Retelling university tales of olde

I just read Robert Cooney’s column in the January issue of ComputerWorld. My dad told stories of walking a mile and a half to school through six-foot snow drifts. In the same vein I’d like to share some thoughts.

There were two classes of 180 in my freshman class of computer science (1982). Second year my classes averaged 30 students. By fourth year few had more than 15. Most of my profs came from an engineering background and all had high expectations. Students worked their butts off but the results were always disappointing. Deadlines were too tight, specifications too ambiguous. There were always 12-hour days, six days a week. Many students just transferred out of the program because there were easier ways to get a degree.

If you don’t enjoy what you are doing now you are in the wrong profession. Of course we all complain but you should find satisfaction somewhere in what you are doing. Don’t expect things to get better. My first job as a programmer analyst paid well but I had to use an IBM cardpunch, something that had been obsolete for at least 10 years. I got one compile a night if I was lucky. My workspace was a shared cubicle in a barn of a building.

After saying all that I wouldn’t change a thing. I really enjoy problem solving. It isn’t often you get exactly what the client wants on the first try but when it happens, look out. I believe university computer science programs do a good job of preparing you for your future.

Dave Grimshire

Technician, Dalhousie University