8 Surprising Ways Computer Science Benefits Society
8 Surprising Ways Computer Science Benefits Society

8 Surprising Ways Computer Science Benefits Society

“Why is computer science important?”

It might seem like a simple question, but there’s a lot that goes into answering it. You might start by focusing on the benefits it could bring you personally. You might talk about how computer science-related jobs are appealing in their versatility, earning potential and demand. You might hear about all of the things we use on a daily basis today that were only created because of computer science.

But what you don’t often hear about as often is the altruistic side of computer science and the work professionals in this field do to make the world a better place.

If you’re looking to leverage your love of technology to make a difference, then rest assured. Computer science is an incredible career choice for someone who wants to change the world.

“Societies will die if they don’t continue to innovate,” says Werner Krebs, CEO of Acculation. Krebs says technologies are neither good nor evil on their own, but, in the right hands, can become powerful benefits to society. “We need bright and ethical people to understand our best and most powerful technologies to ensure they are used for good.”

If you want some concrete examples of just how much computer science benefits society, you came to the right place. We enlisted tech professionals to share with us how their daily work helps people and plays a vital role in their communities.

Computer science benefits society by…

1. Directly meeting needs

“Since my first day in computer science, I’ve been trying to have a positive impact on society,” says Thibault Rihet, software engineer at Trialog. Rihet explains that computer scientists can easily get into direct applications that address societal issues like poverty, unemployment, climate change and more.

Rihet explains that France is utilizing startups by assigning teams to create solutions when a public agent identifies a problem. Then the solutions go live nationally. This approach allows computer scientists and other technology professionals to jump in and meet needs as they arise in their communities.

Sites like DataKind, Taproot and Code Alliance can be excellent resources for computer scientists who want to put their skills to work for global issues, according to Rihet. These platforms allow a wide array of tech professionals to create, support and execute projects that change lives.

There are also indirect benefits from the tools computer scientists build, Rihet points out. Consider charities that are now able to streamline their donations, or crowdfunded campaigns that can gather a following and financial backing.

2. Empowering people who are often overlooked

“An amazing benefit of software is that it can be freely distributed to everyone, thanks to open-source contributors,” Rihet says. “This fact truly empowers people.” When tools to build revenue and solve business problems are available to everyone—it can level the playing field.

For example, finding clients can be an expensive endeavor. If you are a service provider coming to your business without a ton of extra cash, it can be hard to stay afloat. Samantha Hugo, CEO of Hugomatica, says computer science can make a huge difference here.

“For example, beauticians often do not determine their own work hours or find their own clients because they don’t know how.” Seeing this need, Hugo’s company created an app that allows beauticians to recruit their own clients and set their own schedules. “As a women-owned company, we try to find apps that are needed and that will help people in areas that have been overlooked by most coders.”

3. Paving the way for a more equitable world

Computer science can really help level the playing field in terms of inexpensive solutions. But Hugo also points out that it can be an equalizer in other ways. Though technology as an industry has an under representation of women and racial minorities, Hugo sees computer science as a tool for societal rebalance when it comes to gender identity, background, ethnicity and beyond. Code is code—and if you’ve created something genuinely useful, your background isn’t going to hold you back.

“The App Store has the same requirements for all developers,” she points out. Hugo says it is a positive step for society that computers are blind to everything but the code.

4. Accelerating healthcare progress

Healthcare tends to be a pretty high priority when you consider how to improve people’s lives.

One of the most exciting facets of computer science is its power to improve and accelerate every other field. “Data science and artificial intelligence (AI) as subsets of computer science allow people and organizations to accelerate and ‘prepackage thought.’ In this way, computer science and artificial intelligence can make any other discipline many, many times better.”

Genomics and personalized medicine are an excellent example of how computer science-driven technologies are accelerating healthcare progress. The genome sequencing process that powers this frontier of medicine used to cost tens of millions of dollars to complete, but machine-learning techniques and improved computing power have dropped costs substantially.

5. Furthering education

Can you imagine modern education without computer software or the internet? Whether you’re taking a class online, researching for a paper or sharing work via the cloud, computer science pros have helped make this possible.

E-learning platforms and applications give students new tools to problem-solve and study, which has changed the academic world. The ability to take classes online is also a huge benefit for the world—as it creates access to education for students whose locations, abilities or finances were a barrier.

6. Expanding communication

“The biggest contribution computer science has made is in the field of communication,” says Manonit Nand, teacher and system administrator at the Mayoor School. “Computer Science has made the whole world a very small place—available at your fingertips now.”

Nand mentions social media, video calling and chatting apps—even the applications that allow you to share documents and photos with someone else long-distance. These capacities have completely revolutionized the workforce.

7. Predicting and avoiding catastrophes

Computer science is scaling—and scaling very fast for that matter, according to Nand. Applying computer science to prediction can have a huge impact on the world. “We are predicting human behavior; we are predicting climates, seasons, ocean currents, etc.” Nand says.

With these tools, we can predict everything from an incoming tsunami to the outbreak pattern of a pathogen. In that way, some of the most life-saving work that happens in our world relies on computer scientists. Computer science is even in action when predicting the trajectory of dangerous comets near our planet.

8. Positively impacting every area of society

Though it’s not always hands-on, almost every aspect of society—from family-owned businesses needing digital protection to homeless shelters needing a way to streamline their volunteer base—relies on the innovations spurred by computer science professionals.

“Computer science is a noble profession without which today’s world would come to a complete halt,” Nand says. When it comes to finding a career that allows you to positively benefit the world around you, look no further than computer science!

How will you make a difference?

There’s no denying it—the reach of computer science is extensive. And we’re only just scratching the surface with what good can come from it!

Now that you know the many ways computer science benefits our society, you might be wondering about the roles in which you’d put a Computer Science education to use. Check out our article, “What Can You Do with a Computer Science Degree?” to learn more.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article was originally published in December 2015. It has since been updated to include information relevant to 2018.

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11 Data Science Blogs Every Data Lover Should Be Tracking
11 Data Science Blogs Every Data Lover Should Be Tracking

11 Data Science Blogs Every Data Lover Should Be Tracking

Data science is a fascinating technology niche—and it’s changing rapidly. Whether you’re well-established in the field or making a career pivot with further Data Science education, blogs are one of the best ways to stay updated on some of the biggest changes and developments in any industry. A great data science blog could save you lots of time and research—while keeping you informed along the way.

Despite the number of amazing and talented data scientists out there, it’s not always easy to find a high-quality blog dedicated to the field. If you could use a few data science blogs to bookmark and check in on, then keep reading.

11 Data science blogs that’ll help you keep a pulse on the industry

We combed through data science blogs of all shapes and sizes to help you grow in your knowledge of this exciting industry. Here’s a list of our favorites:

1. Oracle’s Data Science blog

Oracle’s Data Science blog focuses on best practices in data science—an area that bridges business and economy, specific tools and platforms in data science, career advice and professional development and more. If you only follow one blog to keep yourself educated on what’s happening in data science, this one is a great pick.

Lots of the content here focuses on how data science is applied by businesses. That perspective can be super helpful to budding data pros looking to learn more about what’s possible with data in a professional setting.

2. Analytics Vidhya’s Big Data blog

Analytics Vidhya’s Big Data blog is home to a vibrant community of data professionals. It features tons of high-quality, user-submitted content from people who are heavily involved with the field. Here you’ll find everything: step-by-step tutorials, data best practices, industry insight, case studies and more.

3. Women in Big Data

Women in Big Data was formed by big data experts who wanted to see better gender representation for women in the industry. While there are plenty of useful data science posts on here, the forte of Women in Big Data is their coverage of industry events. Meetups, technical conferences and data events are highlighted with detailed notes about presenters, important trends and takeaways.

If you don’t have the time to get to events in the industry, then keep tabs on this blog and you can still glean plenty of useful information.

4. Kolabtree

Kolabtree has wide appeal for all things technology and science. But their data analysis section is full of great data news and topics—making them an excellent resource for keeping up with data science. This blog is a great choice for people who are interested in the field and want to learn more about how its principles can be applied across various industries and topic areas.

5. Towards Data Science

If you are looking for interesting data science articles that address pop culture, career concerns and best practices in data, you’ll love Towards Data Science. A visually appealing, easy-scrolling front page allows you to browse article titles that interest you. When you click, you are likely to find thoughtful and well-written content that even newbies to data science can understand.

6. KD Nuggets

KD Nuggets—the “KD” stands for “Knowledge Discovery,” if you’re wondering—is a longstanding and highly regarded site filled with posts on data science, analytics and machine-learning subjects. The content tends to be more advanced than some of the surface-level information you’ll find on some data blogs, with plenty of statistical examples and analytics supporting the posts.

Post titles range from the practical “Choosing the Right Metric for Evaluating Machine Learning Models” to the humorous “Every time someone runs a correlation coefficient on two time series, an angel loses their wings.” This site is updated multiple times daily and is an absolute must-bookmark site for anyone interested in the field.

7. Data Science & Psychology

Data Science & Psychology has a very unique approach for analytics—applying data science with social science concerns. The blog’s owner, Ravi Iyer, is a data scientist as well as the executive director of a nonprofit that focuses on peaceful politics. The aim of this blog seems to be exploring societal trends, ethics and morality through the lens of data.

“While some may see academic psychology and the technology industry as separate career paths, it is my view that they are converging as technology companies increasingly serve psychological needs and psychology departments seek to use more real-world data that produces real-world value,” Iyer writes. If you are interested in culture, politics, religion or psychology, then this blog does a great job of exploring the most human side of data science.

8. O’Reilly Media’s Ideas blog

O’Reilly Media’s Ideas blog offers tabs with plenty of different subjects—data, most definitely, but also AI, business, security and quite a few other areas that might be interesting to data science lovers. This site is an excellent resource for broad data topics. Recent subjects include data privacy, data engineer vs. data scientist and takeaways from data conferences and presentations.

Also worth noting is the O’Reilly Data Show podcast. If you enjoy podcasting, then add this one to the mix to keep tabs on the speedy world of data.

9. Simply Statistics

If you’re looking for a no-nonsense take on statistic and data science topics, Simply Statistics is a great pick for you. Simply Statistics offers regular posts in a simple, highly readable format. Three biostatistics professors created this blog because they were fired up about this new era where data is abundant and statisticians are scientists.

“People vs. Institutions in Data Analysis,” “Rethinking Academic Data Sharing” and “How Do Machines Learn?” are some examples of post topics you will find.

10. Cross Validated

While it might not follow the traditional format of a blog, Cross Validated is too valuable of a resource to leave out. This site is more of a question-and-answer forum for people interested in statistics, machine learning, data analysis, data mining and data visualization—and there’s plenty of valuable insight to be found. This site, which is connected to Stack Exchange, can be an excellent way to keep tabs on what experts in data are talking about—and whom to consult with when you’re stuck.

11. No Free Hunch

No Free Hunch is the blog of Kaggle, a platform for data science-related competitions. The competitions alone are a good reason to have this site on your radar—but there’s also quite a bit of useful information to be found on this blog. They post often about upcoming competition and project opportunities as well as the results from them, and there’s also plenty of posts about general industry news and helpful tutorials.

Stay smart with these data science blogs

As you can see, there are so many different kinds of data science blogs out there—data science blogs for people who like a little humor, data science blogs for the highly technical-minded folks, data science blogs for professionals who want to understand how data fits into the business world—our list only scratches the surface.

If you found a few blogs in here that captured your interest, you have one more tool to make you smarter in this exciting industry. In data, the terminology, tools and even job titles change fast. Following expert sources is critical to stay up to date. Even the term “data science” itself is still pretty fresh—and for some, hard to define. If you could use a little clarity on how to differentiate two common data disciplines, check out our article, “Data Analytics vs. Data Science: Deciphering the Differences.”

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What Does a Network Administrator Do? A Behind-the-Scenes Look
What Does a Network Administrator Do? A Behind-the-Scenes Look

What Does a Network Administrator Do? A Behind-the-Scenes Look

You’ve always had a solid understanding of how computers work and are your family’s go-to for dealing with tech troubles. So now that it’s time to start thinking about your professional future, it seems only natural to consider a career in information technology. Under the umbrella of IT roles, one role in particular stands out: network administrator.

But what does a network administrator do? Despite your general tech know-how, there’s a lot about the network administrator job description you may be unfamiliar with. We’re taking a closer look at this behind-the-scenes tech position so you can determine if it’s the right profession for you.

What is a network administrator, anyway?

A network administrator is responsible for keeping an organization’s computer network up-to-date and operating as intended. Any company or organization that uses multiple computers or software platforms needs a network admin to coordinate and connect the different systems. Seems simple enough—but there’s another common IT job title that is commonly confused: systems administrator.

Network administrator vs. systems administrator

You may be wondering if a network administrator is essentially the same as a systems administrator. In short—not really. But the lines can blur depending on the work environment. In many smaller organizations, the terms “network administrator” and “systems administrator” are often interchangeable as they may cover the same tasks.

That being said, the differences between network and systems administrators become much clearer in large organizations. The best way to differentiate between the two is to examine the type of work they do—so let’s dive in.

What are the job duties of network and systems administrators?

As we said, the duties of a network administrator will vary considerably depending on the organization they work for. Some work as jack-of-all-trades generalists who cover everything from hardware setup to troubleshooting servers while others have a much narrower focus.

In environments where administrators play more specialized roles, network administrators tend to focus more on how computers interact with one another. This often includes configuring an organization’s local area network (LAN), wide area network (WAN) and other elements of a network system. Systems administrators, on the other hand, work more directly with computer hardware and software, including installation, maintenance, data recovery and training on best practices.

What is the network administrator salary and job outlook?

If you’re intrigued by the network administrator job description detailed above, you’re probably curious about the career-related details. After all, you’re looking for a stable position that can help you make a decent living.

Employment of network and systems administrators is projected to increase five percent through 2028, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).1 While this increase is on par with the national average for all occupations, the BLS notes certain industries that offer a more favorable outlook. Employment for network admins focused on computer systems design, for example, is expected to grow 24 percent in that same time period.1

With that in mind, you’re probably wondering: How much does a network administrator make? The BLS reports that the median annual salary for network administrators in 2019 was $83,510. 1 It’s important to keep in mind that there are quite a few variables at play when it comes to compensation, such as location, education and experience. But in general, network administrators can expect to earn a salary that exceeds the average for all occupations.1

What skills do network administrators need?

It takes a blend of hard and soft skills to fulfill the network administrator job description. Here’s a closer look at the skills and traits needed to succeed.

Top technical skills for network administrators

We used real-time job analysis software to examine nearly 150,000 network administrator jobs posted over the past year.2 This helped us determine the top technical skills employers are seeking:

  • System administration
  • Linux®
  • Microsoft Active Directory®
  • VMware®
  • Technical support
  • Windows Server®
  • Cisco®
  • Hardware and software installation
  • SQL
  • Customer service

Top transferable skills for network administrators

This position clearly requires substantial technical competence, but there are a few valuable characteristics the best network administrators possess.

  • Analyzing and critical thinking: Network admins need to explore and solve problems logically and consistently. Understanding how systems work together and the chain reaction one issue can have is crucial. Even if you don’t know the solution right away, critical thinking skills can help you get there.
  • Time management: These tech pros juggle several projects, people and problems simultaneously. This means it’s essential to be organized in the present and looking ahead to prepare for what’s coming next. It’s like spinning plates—with a little practice, a network admin can keep everything balanced.
  • Interpersonal skills: Network admins work with a range of people, from network engineers to help-desk employees to end users. You’ll need to help bridge the gap between diverse groups of people, which requires patience and understanding.
  • Curiosity and a love of learning: The IT field is never stagnant. New technologies can put even well-established network admins behind the eight ball. This means in order to succeed you’ll need to have a passion for learning as you adapt to changing tech demands.

Where do network administrators work?

Organizations of all kinds rely on their networks and internet systems to conduct business. That’s why network administrators are needed in nearly every industry. To prove that, we referred to our job analysis to identify the top industries hiring network administrators.2

Here’s what we found:

  • Employment services
  • Architectural, engineering and related services
  • Computer systems design services
  • Insurance carriers
  • Aerospace product and parts manufacturing
  • Management, scientific and technical consulting services
  • Colleges, universities and professional schools
  • National security and international affairs

As you can see, earning a degree in Network Administration means you’ll have plenty of options when it comes to choosing a field to find employment.

What is a typical day like for a network administrator?

As you can tell, the network administration job description is quite broad: managing an entire network, preventing and fixing network problems and supporting a number of teams and individuals. This means there’s rarely a “typical day” in the life of a network admin.

That being said, there are a few common activities you can expect to encounter on a weekly basis. This may include checking logs, auditing processes, putting out fires that arise from your end users and working on projects. Projects could include automating routine daily processes or researching technology and brainstorming creative solutions for the organization’s network needs.

Network administrator work hours are another factor to consider. While this is often a standard 9-to-5 type of position, it’s fairly common for network admins to work overtime to complete projects at times. Some may work “on call” where they can be asked to work outside of regular business hours in case of emergency.

Interested in becoming a network administrator?

Network administrators play an essential role in any organization’s IT department—they keep the technology connecting our devices running securely with minimal down time. Knowing what a network administrator does is just the start to your IT career search. You’ll also need to know what it takes to become one.

Learn more about what you’ll need to get started in our article, “How to Become a Network Administrator: The Info You Need to Know.”

1Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, [accessed June 2020] www.bls.gov/ooh/. Salary data represents national, averaged earnings for the occupations listed and includes workers at all levels of education and experience. This data does not represent starting salaries and employment conditions in your area may vary.
2Burning-Glass.com (analysis of 148,974 network administrator job postings, Jun. 01, 2019 – May 31, 2020).

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article was originally published in December 2014. It has since been updated to include information related to 2020.

Microsoft, Microsoft Server and Microsoft Active Directory are registered trademarks of Microsoft Corporation.
Cisco is a registered trademark of Cisco Systems, Inc.
VMware is a registered trademark of VMware, Inc.
Linux is a registered trademark of Linus Torvalds.

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What Can You Do with an Associate’s Degree in Information Technology?
What Can You Do with an Associate’s Degree in Information Technology?

What Can You Do with an Associate’s Degree in Information Technology?

You’ve been searching high and low for a career that will put your technology talents to good use. You know the technology field is poised for growth, and you want to get in on the action with a career that lets you explore your natural interest in tech.

There’s just one problem: you’re worried a “four-year degree” is the only way to get there. As much as you value education, you’re not sure if you can commit the time and money it takes to earn a Bachelor’s degree—at least not right off the bat.

Lucky for you, the tech field is generally more receptive to hiring talented individuals who don’t have a Bachelor’s degree. An Associate’s Degree in Information Technology can qualify you for plenty of solid job opportunities that can give you a foothold in the field and start you on a path to advancement. Better yet, an IT Associate’s degree can be completed in as few as 18 months.1

If this route sounds like it might be up your alley, then take a look at these benefits of earning an Associate’s degree and the IT careers it could lead to.

Is it worth getting an Associate’s Degree in Information Technology?

It’s easy to look at job postings for tech jobs with extensive wish lists for candidate requirements and wonder this, but an Associate’s degree offers educational expertise that employers recognize. When examining workers across all occupations, those with an Associate’s degree earned just over 15 percent more per week than those with only a high school diploma in 2018, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.2 And that’s just focusing on people with any Associate’s degree—not exclusively IT, where there are several positions that fall into the “new-collar” category of technical positions that do not require a Bachelor’s degree.

An Associate’s degree in IT isn’t just applicable to tech startups in Silicon Valley, either. Even if you’re still not sure if you belong in the tech industry, this versatile degree can help you get your foot in the door with a wide variety of companies and industries in your own backyard. Technology is part of nearly every company in every industry, and plenty of them are aware of the value you can bring to an IT department with a two-year degree.

With the help of the BLS, we’ve identified five IT roles you may be eligible for with an Associate’s degree in hand. It’s important to note that while these positions are attainable with an Associate’s degree, many may require experience and potentially professional certifications to land them. Like with any career, you don’t stroll out of college into a senior-level position—you’ll need to put in the work.

3 Jobs you can land with an Information Technology Associate’s degree

The technology world is changing rapidly, and companies in many fields need talented tech workers to help them keep up with the fast pace. These five job titles come with respectable salaries and a good job growth outlook. Keep them in mind as you consider the long-term value you could get from earning your Associate’s degree in Information Technology.

1. Computer support specialist

Computer support specialists—often called help desk specialists—are on the front lines of addressing computer and technological issues for an organization’s network users. They help users troubleshoot and address software issues, computer crashes and hardware trouble. Additionally they may assist in configuring network hardware and work with senior IT members to report and fix large scale network issues. This role is a common career starting point for IT professionals. Computer support specialist positions may be listed as comparable jobs titles like desktop support technician, help desk analyst/ technician or IT specialist, among others.

  • Median annual salary (2018): $53,4703
  • Projected employment growth (2018–2028): 10 percent3

2. Network systems administrator

Most companies today rely on computer systems to conduct their day-to-day business, and network systems administrators are the ones who make sure those infrastructures continue running smoothly. They install and support a company’s computer systems, maintain the network’s security, install hardware and software, troubleshoot problems and evaluate system performance to make recommendations about necessary upgrades. Responsibilities like these may also fall under job titles like information analyst, information systems manager, and network coordinator.

Though this job may require more experience for Associate’s degree holders compared to Bachelor’s degree holders, becoming a network systems administrator can be a good goal for ambitious and enterprising individuals getting started in technology.

  • Median annual salary (2018): $82,0503
  • Projected employment growth (2018–2028): 5 percent (as fast as average)3

3. Computer systems analyst

Computer systems analysts work behind the scenes to marry IT with smart business solutions. Their job is to make an organization’s tech setup as efficient, functional and cost-effective as possible. They often specialize in a certain industry, such as finance, where they work closely with business leaders to make computer systems decisions. Their day-to-day work includes conducting tests and analyzing results, researching emerging technology, preparing cost-benefit analyses and implementing new systems.

Computer systems analysts can come from a variety of backgrounds. Many benefit from having experience in business operations on top of their technology education. Having knowledge of the industry they work in is a big help when communicating with stakeholders—effective IT solutions require a strong understanding of how they’ll be utilized by end users.

  • Median annual salary (2018): $88,7403
  • Projected employment growth (2018–2028): 9 percent3

Your Information Technology career awaits

Information technology career opportunities exist in nearly every industry, and it isn’t necessary to have a four-year degree to get there. Though some jobs may require greater experience combined with an Associate’s degree, there are options. Now that you’re well aware of where an Associate’s degree could take you, take the next step by learning more about the Rasmussen University Information Technology Associate’s degree program.

1Completion time is dependent on number of transfer credits accepted and courses completed each term.
2Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Population Survey, Unemployment rates and earnings by educational attainment, 2018 [Information accessed March 2020] https://www.bls.gov/emp/chart-unemployment-earnings-education.htm
3Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, [career information accessed March 2020] www.bls.gov/ooh/. Salary data represents national, averaged earnings for the occupations listed and includes workers at all levels of education and experience. This data does not represent starting salaries and employment conditions in your area may vary.

This article was originally published in 2018. It has since been updated to include information relevant to 2020.

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