Neil Loknath is an AU student currently enrolled in the Bachelor of Science in Computing and Information Systems, whose computer skills also recently gave him the opportunity to take part in Google’s Summer of Code program.
Loknath originally completed a college diploma program elsewhere, but says that he had regretted his ?decision to go to college instead of university,? saying ?I felt that I had more potential, and my college education didn’t provide me with the foundation I felt I needed. AU gave me the opportunity to do something about it,? he says.
?Since I was working full-time, the fact that I could study in the evenings was a huge plus, as I could continue working full-time and easily finance my education. In addition, the transfer assessment of my college diploma granted me almost half of the credits required for the degree.?
Like all AU students, Loknath appreciates the ability to set his own study schedule. ?If I feel like I’m understanding a topic and I want to move forward, I don’t need to wait for a lecture to end; I can just move on. In the same way, if I need to slow down, I can do that too.?
In the Bachelor of Science in Computing and Information Systems program (BScCIS), Loknath says that ?there are some courses that really focus on specific technologies,? and this makes the learning very practical and applicable. He would like to see more theory-oriented classes, however, explaining that ?in the field of IT, where technologies change very rapidly, if courses are not kept very up-to-date, students will be studying what is already obsolete,? but while specific technologies may come and go, ?for the most part, the theory doesn’t change.?
For this reason, ?if You’re looking for a focus on more of the theoretical aspects of Computer Science, this degree may not be the best fit.? Loknath also cautions that according to his personal research, this lack of theory could hinder students seeking to pursue graduate degrees in computer science. ?Before I registered in the program, I looked into how competitive the BScCIS would be for admission to graduate programs. What I found was that most universities I had contacted indicated that it would not be very competitive . . . since the program is not a pure Computer Science one.?
If, however, ?You’re looking for a practical, business-oriented approach to learning about computer science and programming, this program is very good . . . So, in my opinion, the strengths and weaknesses of the program really vary depending on a student’s goals.?
Loknath’s computer skills also recently landed him a position in Google’s Summer of Code program. To participate in this program, students must choose ?a participating mentor organization and write them a proposal for an interesting project they would like to code on during the summer.? Each mentoring organization is then allowed to accept a certain number of the best proposals. This year, of 5,900 student proposals received, only 1,000 were accepted, making admittance to the program very competitive.
Loknath’s mentor organization was Gnome, and he spent his summer working on the Linux media player Banshee. His work ?allows users to share their music collections with their instant messaging friends,? and throughout the summer he chronicled his progress in his blog.
The biggest benefit to students for participating in the Summer of Code program ?is the real world experience gained by working with a software development team. As a student, you get a chance to apply what you’ve been studying to a real project that you build yourself. You also get to experience things you don’t really get taught too much about, such as team communication, bug tracking, etc.
?It was very satisfying seeing something grow from nothing to an actual, working, useful piece of software,? he says.
When asked how his AU studies had helped with his Summer of Code project, Loknath says that ?obviously, since I am studying computers, my studies at AU have helped me in one way or another. Specifically, I think studies on data structures, algorithms, concurrency, threading, networking, and OOP (object oriented programming) were the most valuable.
?Learning things on your own takes a lot of determination to stay motivated and continue working towards your goals,? says Loknath. ?Overcoming these challenges really demonstrates a person’s willingness to learn and work hard . . . [but] being in front of the computer, hacking away, is definitely where I like to be.?
Obviously a good fit for both Google’s Summer of Code and AU’s Bachelor of Science in Computing and Information Systems.