Architects and Computer Science and Sealing Wax

Any student in a Computer Science-y program has undoubtably heard their goal described as “a degree in computers”. Now, this doesn’t bother me as much as many others, but it is still a gross oversimplication. That is not my topic today, though.

The more sophisticated outsider will believe that our degree is in programming. And who can blame them? We certainly spend enough time doing it, yet we are still not quite at the truth. It may help to look at a similar, yet different, field.

Architecture students spend a vast amount of their time modelling, whether using computers or physical materials. An observer might think that this is what they went to school to learn. But it is actually much more - they learn how to design buildings, and merely use models to describe what they’ve created in their minds.

For us it is much the same. We design applications to perform some task, and use programming to transform our thoughts into something a bit more tangible (albeit still not physical). We spend much time programming because we design many things that need to be programmed. We take a few courses on the actual art of programming so that we can spend more time designing and less time getting the computer to see our design the same way as we do, just as architecture majors receive instruction in AutoCAD, not to become modellers, but to get more time to create ideas.

That is, after all, what we really deal in - ideas. Ideas so crazy that there’s no possible way to manifest them in the physical world.

We are working towards a degree in professional dreaming.