The start of a new year marks the start of a fresh set of classes and perspectives. With my major requirements for Computer Engineering changing slightly with the introduction of a new class, I think it might be useful to take a look what my course load looks like this year!
I am taking five courses this semester, with two of those falling under a more non-technical category. First, there is multi-variable Calculus, a must take for any and all engineering students and something I expected to eventually take some time during my college career. Then there’s a class that I don’t know how I quite wandered into: Introduction to Cinema. While it is definitely a class that doesn’t make use of many of technical skills I’ve learned over my time USC, it definitely serves to work a different part of my brain and as a fan of film, the class has been extremely enjoyable so far. The class is fills out one, four hour block a week, with half that time dedicated to learning about the aspects of film, from narrative structure to acting, and the other half dedicated to actually watching a film that reflects whatever we talked about in lecture that day. The class takes place in the Norris Chuck Theater at USC and the location makes for a fantastic viewing experience for any film. So, if you ever find yourself wanting to take a break from the more technical aspects of whatever major you may be and need to fulfill your art requirement, Introduction to Cinema is definitely my recommendation.
As interesting as Intro to Cinema and multi-variable Calculus can be, I am definitely having the most fun with my core engineering classes. Principles of Software Development is a core class for all major Computer Science disciplines and focuses on a variety of different topics. From implementing databases to web development to multithreading, the class has us learning and implementing these ideas into projects of varying complexity. A big focus of the class is on the final project, which involves you and a team of 5 other students in the class working together to develop an application (a mobile app, a game, a web application) which you will document and demo at the end of the semester. My team has a great idea and I’m very excited to really get started on this part of the class soon. In addition to this core Computer Science class, I am also taking a brand new, major requirement class that is exclusive to Electrical Engineering and Computer Engineering majors called Distributed Systems for the Internet of Things. It is one the first classes at USC that has focused on IoT (Internet of Things; think of it as the study of little things that make up big networks and how they communicate) and has exposed me to so many different topics that make up entire areas of study in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, from network protocols, to embedded system design, and even very basic signal processing. Taught by one of my favorite professors and with some of the coolest labs I’ve taken yet, Distributed Systems for the Internet of Things is my favorite class of the semester so far.
My entire schedule is finally rounded out by a two-unit class, Introduction to Information Security. The focus of the class is cybersecurity, identifying the weaknesses in systems and understanding what one can do to patch any of those weaknesses. The class is part of the ITP (Information Technology Program) department and has no requirements for enrollment; if you interested at all in cybersecurity or just have an extra two units and want to feel a little paranoid around your computer, this is the class for you!
While five classes can be a lot to juggle in one semester, the sheer interest I have in each and every one of my classes is a definite motivator. Finding classes that you are passionate about is a key to success and good for the general attitude you can bring to those classes. I hope this gave you a little insight as to what sophmore year looks like for a Computer Engineering major!