Want to make a difference in something important? How about the planet? That’s pretty important. Here’s an interesting article from researchers in the UK who nicely summarize four broad ways in which computing can help us build a sustainable future: optimizing the digital infrastructure to achieve maximum energy efficiency, developing a global data collection network for sensing and optimizing resource consumption and environmental impact, forecasting and responding to future events in natural systems, and finding digital alternatives to physical activities. We need lots of smart, creative, motivated young people to make this happen!
I talk a lot to prospective computer science majors about the great opportunities for creative people in computing. Thinking outside-the-box is highly rewarded in so many CS application areas. If you eavesdrop on a team of software designers who are building something for popular use, you would not be surprised to hear someone say ‘That would be cool!’ Of course, there are application areas where wacky ideas are not as welcome, due to security or safety concerns for example. But compared to other technical fields, I would wager that there are a lot more career paths in computing that reward and encourage ‘that would be cool’ inspirations.