Making Computer Science a Hobby

Quintin Fettes

Quintin Fettes,
Senior, Computer Science

Athens, OH 5 March 2017

Admittedly, I’d always had interest in tech-related hobbies that one might consider cliché for a computer science major. These might include things like video games, installing a wide variety of free programs to perform obscure tasks like deleting file directories without access right to the directory, accidentally ruining my dad’s computer with freeware (sorry dad), and experimenting with my computer in any ways which I could.

However, up until my sophomore or junior year of college, I’d never really spent any times explicitly practicing computer science as a hobby. Sure, I’d been learning programming and basic algorithm design starting at my senior year of high school, but once class was over and my assignment was finished, I was off to other hobbies. This all changed as my knowledge and skill within the field grew.

Particularly, I started inquiring to professors and older students about machine learning. In layman’s terms, these are methods of problem solving for computers. After studying with a professor for a semester, I found myself finishing my homework and reading “Machine Learning: The Art and Science of Algorithms that Make Sense of Data” by Peter Flach outside of class to satisfy my curiosity. I didn’t make much of it at the time, but I was essentially taking a course on Machine Learning, for fun. From there, my interest in computer science only spilled further into my personal life.

The next step came when I took the Interactive Computer Graphics course here at Ohio University. I’d always liked video games, so learning to build graphics from scratch seemed like a natural choice for an enjoyable elective. Soon after the conclusion of the class, I found myself researching graphics APIs and implementing various graphics projects as a hobby. I’ve no plans to make a career out of computer graphics, but designing the algorithms and engineering the graphics projects from scratch has been a vastly enjoyable and occasionally challenging hobby.

While these were just 2 examples, I’ve found that my academic life and hobbies have become very closely intertwined. Hobbies in machine learning, computer graphics, reinforcement learning, parallel computing, and other topics in computer science are really enjoyable to explore in my free time; and now I’m able to appreciate how lucky I am to have grown so fond of my major. My advice to anyone would be to find a hobby in your field; it can make learning that much more exciting.

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