In a world where computers have become ubiquitous, the need for computer engineers is growing. The Association for Computing Machinery forecasts that about 150 000 computing jobs in the United States alone will be opening up each year through 2020. The number of students graduating with computer science degrees, however, is declining—which begs the question: Who will take the reins?
To spark students’ interest in the rapidly growing field, IEEE has launched TryComputing.org—a website aimed at preuniversity students, their parents, and teachers.
Developed by IEEE Educational Activities and the IEEE Computer Society, the site encourages students to check out such fields as video games, social media, software development, and network engineering. TryComputing follows in the footsteps of the successful TryEngineering.org—an IEEE website that explores the vast array of career possibilities within the broader field of engineering.
The new site’s Discover page is a good place for students to start. There they can select keywords that best describe what they like to do—perhaps analyzing, communicating, or fixing technical problems. Based on those tags, TryComputing matches students with a career track that fits their interests.
They also can click on the Work tab and then Visit a list of computing careers to see a list of job titles within computer engineering, as well as a brief overview of responsibilities associated with each role.
What is a day like in the life of a computer engineer, and where can a degree in computer engineering take you? So far, 14 computer engineers—including software engineers, game developers, and entrepreneurs—have answered those questions, and more are expected to add their stories. Students can browse the profiles, which include the engineers’ job descriptions, what it took to get them where they are now, and what makes their careers enjoyable.
Among the engineers featured is Obinna Michael Ob, founder of Scorpsixteen Internet, in Abuja, Nigeria—a startup that offers social media strategies, app development, and search engine optimization services. Ob majored in computer science, he says, because “it undoubtedly embraces innovation, and there is opportunity to identify and solve problems in different fields using computing concepts.” And, he adds, “Computer science is the academic discipline of the future.”
TryComputing offers a number of ways for students to get involved in computer science outside the classroom. Students can click on Student Opportunities to find a list of events including the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, the world’s largest preuniversity science competition.
For students who have decided to pursue a computer science degree, or for school counselors helping students choose a university, the site provides a directory of more than 1600 universities from around the world that offer accredited programs in the field. Students can click the Study tab, enter their field of interest and country, and the directory will present local schools. Included in the results is a link to each school’s website.
Undergraduate and graduate students looking for money to help pay for their education can review TryComputing’s list of scholarships and fellowships. Among them is the IEEE Computer Society’s Richard E. Merwin Scholarship, which awards US $1000 or more to IEEE student members who are active in their student branches and who show promise in their academic and professional efforts.
FOR TEACHERS, TOO
TryComputing also offers resources for preuniversity teachers. Educators can download free lesson plans that teach basic computing concepts including algorithms and product design. The plans, which are meant for students between the ages of 10 and 18, include activities such as solving mazes, programming binary clocks, and building graphical models of a city. To add to the mix, teachers just need to click Submit your lesson plan ideas.
This article was updated for the March 2013 print issue.