OK, All the Golden Bears and Pandas will know about the recent budget cuts being made at the U of A. One of the majors in danger of being scrapped is Bachelor of Design Comp Sci route.
Read about it here if you haven’t already.
I’ve always had mixed feelings about the Comp Sci Route but upon hearing this news, I have to share my 2 cents in the best way I know: by drawing this out.
The whole point of going to a university setting to pursue a degree in design versus going to a technical school is to gain exposure to fields that are not traditionally considered to be part of the field of design.
I don’t know about you, but anything that can broaden my horizons and give me that extra edge sounds like a good idea. All too often we are trapped in the bubbles of our fields of study, we don’t get many opportunities to explore outside of them.
However, I must say the CS route is not done in a way that allows design students to make full use of it. Most of the required courses in the CS route focus on technicality to the point where I feel like I’m switching brains whenever I am doing an assignment.
The reason why there aren’t many people in the CS route is simple: It’s bloody difficult. Coding, in all of it’s glamour, is not meant for everyone, just like sports, music or art.
To most of the kids actually in CS, it comes naturally to them. Understanding CS kids can be frustrating sometimes because of their completely linear ways of thinking versus the more roundabout way designers are familiar with.
But regardless of all the differences, the goals of design and CS are similar. Creating a useful piece of software is about improving people’s lives, and isn’t that what design is all about as well?
The most advanced countries in the world are what they are because of the arts. Why? Because the arts encourage innovation and creative thought. Ken Robinson said in his TED talk, creativity comes from the interaction of different disciplinary ways of seeing things. The arts and the sciences have to coexist in order for society to progress. Having one without the other is like having popcorn but no butter.
The reason people think that the arts are not worth investing in is because they are basing their opinions on what has worked in the past. During the Industrial Revolution, the most useful subjects such as maths and sciences were emphasized, and you had to be good at those to find work. This method of thinking is no longer relevant in the present, trying to make top 20 by 2020 is simply not going to happen if we continue on this path.
I think that as long as you are good at what you do, you can make money. Just because you took sciences in college doesn’t mean your future is set. A lousy scientist will still make less than a talented artist who is better at their job. Just as a good doctor will always make more than a terrible musician.
Off the top of my head, I can’t say I learned anything really of use to design in CS route while I was in it. If anything I learned to understand people who aren’t familiar with the design process better. Having said that, I have no regrets, I got to learn about computers at a level that most people wouldn’t have the chance to. Perhaps one day, all those nights spent in the CS lab will be of use.