Ever wondered the importance of computer engineering and its relevance to today’s ever-changing world? I sure don’t and I don’t expect anything different from you, unless of course you’re developing the next big social media app.

Just today, I was given an exclusive opportunity to take part in a keynote presented by Dr. Osmar R. Zaïane, a professor at the Department of Computing Science of the UofA. He primarily focused on the recent developments in computer engineering, specifically discussing the extensive number of opportunities for students to take part in computer sciences.

Specifically, society underestimates the impact of computer engineering, misinterpreting the tremendous impact that it has on employment and livelihoods. Actually, it would be ill suited to categorize everyone together. Instead, let’s say anyone who doesn’t fully appreciate the importance of computer coding underestimates the effects of computer engineering. From doctors to realtors, arts to business, everyone and everything today relies on computer design for function. Just think about it for a moment: MRI scans and lab equipment, housing market price calculations, computer generated images, monitoring stock exchange rates, the list goes on. Yes, even the cabbage role that you bought at the market was scanned and had it price checked from coded with product stock and prices. No one wants to accidentally pay $20 for a cabbage role.

Or how about that rectangular piece of glass and metal that you keep squeezed between your palms? Hmm…. I wonder how much work someone put into coding the software for Clash of Clans… or how about the clock and thermostat in your house? Yep, computer engineering strikes again.

But you might be asking yourself at this point “OK, I understand that computer engineering has a key role in my life. But what’s so significant of knowing about coding, or even computers in general?” Perhaps it has to do with the ever-increasing complexity of the world around us, and the expectations of what we are capable of achieving with the resources we have present. Dr. Zaïane used the example of The Great Horse Manure Crisis of 1894, comparing it to current scientific progress.

Back in the 19th century, there were nearly 50,000 horses in London and over 100,000 in New York. Undoubtedly, the animals served as a means of transportation. The rapid growing population was so critical that New York journalists estimated  the entire city would be under nine meters of horse dung within 50 years. However, the introduction of the first automobiles revolutionized transportation and horse industry. Thousands were left without employment as people no longer required saddle makers, farriers, grooms, and even scavengers (a most promising career for people who enjoy scavenging for horse leftovers on streets).

This historical proof sheds some light on the downside effects of technological advances, but also reinforces the continuous growth and prosperity that has been brought with it. In our case, just being able to send emails and publish documents online won’t be enough in the future; coding might be necessary for  to learn and become a second language for people to master. This might seem absurd to us now, but imagine how the horse-cabbies may have reacted to the first automobile. While tales of horse dung might not convince you, at least realize that texting and even driving has become second nature to the majority of us, and so too will coding in the future. Our generation cannot simply ignore the significance of computer development. We need to take an initiative into learning how our electronics work, and maybe then will I know how to get over level 152 on Clash of Clans…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo Courtesy of mashable.com