My name is Daniel, and I am deaf—but that hasn’t impacted my ability to study and work with computers. I am pursuing a bachelor’s degree in computer science at the Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, NY with the goal of eventually earning a master’s degree or PhD in computer science as well. My studies have taught me more about how computers work and have helped me diversify my skill set.
I've participated in several clubs, including the Electronic Gaming Society and the Asian Deaf Club. I've also been active with a start-up company, DeafTechNews, which provides news related to technology that benefits the Deaf and hard of hearing community.
What are you going to do with your degree?
I’m looking forward to an upcoming internship at IBM in Austin, TX, which will prepare me to face workforce challenges. My goal is to gain work experience in different sectors: private, government, and non-profit. The more I am able to experience, the more I am able to learn and make good decisions in the future. I'm still deciding on how I can impact the world, but with a computing degree I believe I have the opportunity to impact the world in both small and large ways.
How did you get interested in computing?
I didn’t know much about computers until I attended the Summer Academy for Advancing Deaf and Hard of Hearing in Computing at the University of Washington in 2008. The Summer Academy taught me a lot about the computing world, and I started to understand how dynamic it is. I also learned that programming computers requires patience, teamwork, and thinking outside of the box. For example, during the program we separated into teams to create a computer animation. However, we only had access to lab computers, not a server farm, so we had to work during the day and leave the computers to render the animations overnight. We learned how to divide the work between the team members so that we all enjoyed our jobs and worked to our strengths.
What can I do while I’m in high school if I want to pursue a career in computing?
If you’re in high school and thinking about a career in computing, push yourself to learn about computing, whether it’s computing-related news, a programming language, computer hardware, or a new algorithm. I also recommend participating in the computing community—build your network, meet people in computing, be proactive, and contribute. There are so many ways you can participate in the computing community—you can contribute to open source software like FireFox, find a programming community that proposes challenges like TopCoder, experiment with the Arduino platform, learn about web design, or work with a local non-profit organization on a small project.
Why should I study computing?
Computing is a fun and challenging field, and it makes life easier for us all: it allows us to communicate faster, do repetitive tasks for us, save lives, and so many other things as well. I love having challenges thrown at me, and computing is full of puzzles that need to be solved.
Computing isn’t always the most diverse environment. You might look around and notice that there aren’t many women, deaf individuals, or other people with disabilities. This doesn’t mean that computer science isn’t for you. Having greater diversity among computer scientists means that there are more perspectives brought to the table and better products are developed. Greater diversity in the computing workforce leads to better understanding and insight into how real-world problems can be solved. The computing world is still maturing and amazing opportunities are waiting for you out there.