Post #1: Getting Started

Hi all — My name is Clay and I figure the best way to start this quarter is with a brief introduction. I got my first degree in chemical engineering from Penn State back in 2014 and upon graduating began working in the oil/gas industry. Since then I have bounced around the country with the same company from the Northeast to the Gulf Coast and now the Rocky Mountains. I decided to pursue this CS degree as a chance to learn a new skill and viewed programming as a powerful supplementary skill for my current job/career. As of now, I don’t have immediate plans to change careers, but am open to it if the right opportunity arises. One of the other reasons that I gravitated towards CS was the location flexibility with CS related careers (especially now with remote work becoming more and more prevalent). One of the downsides of chemical engineering for me is that the major hubs for these jobs are places I don’t necessarily want to live long term like the Gulf Coast (I like the cold and mountains) and California (too expensive).

Blogging is going to be an interesting experience for me as I have mostly disconnected from social media and openly sharing information on the internet. Part of it is because I am a somewhat private person, so the thought of companies saving every little piece of information about me to try to sell me something is a bit uncomfortable to me. I know the Google’s of the world already have all the info they want on me, but I don’t like making it easy! The other part is it feels like the internet has lost some of it’s “charm” that I saw when I first started using it more regularly ~20 years ago. Perhaps its just nostalgia, but it feels like in the early days of social media it was just friends/family sharing tidbits from their life where now it feels like everyone is trying to perfectly optimize a post for engagement so they can sell something to you or get paid to post something. I now remember the instructions clearly stated to “keep it light” so I will change topics before I dig myself too much larger of a negativity hole!

I am overall looking forward to this course and having a chance to build something with all the skills I’ve picked up over the past 14 CS courses I’ve taken. I just recently wrapped up CS493 (Cloud) so as the subject is fresh on my mind, I picked a cloud based project as my number #1 choice. I struggle a bit with good UI design so I have found myself gravitating towards more backend related work vs. front end. I find my comfort zone is using python as most of this program utilized it and the few things I’ve done in a professional capacity have been in python. I’m still fairly comfortable with the main webdev languages, but some of the quarks of JS still trip me up. I typically can get it to work, but it tends to feel like I get it to work in a way that isn’t considered “good practice”, so something I hope to continue improving upon.

One of the most satisfying feelings for me during this program is when, after hours and hours of troubleshooting while pulling your hair out, your project finally works as intended. I tend to try and remember that when struggling with a problem as motivation to keep at it. Worst case I walk away for the night, which is a tactic I had to employ many times implementing smallsh in CS344. I think that project is a good example of “type 2” fun. I certainly was not having fun in the moment, but looking back it was fun learning a ton and finally getting all the little pieces to work together correctly.
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