Sunday, June 17, 2012

Software engineering and passion

I was speaking with some 16 year old students from my old school recently and one of them told me that he wanted to go to university to become a software engineer. He's acing all of his exams, especially maths and sciences as well as those topics that aren't really of interest. So definitely a good candidate. However, when I asked what he had done in the area of computing so far, particularly programming, the answer was nothing.

This got me thinking. By the time I was his age, I'd been programming for almost four years, written games, a basic word processor and even a login password grabbing "utility". And that's not even touching on the electronics work I'd done. Now you could argue that teaching today is very different than it was 30 years go, but very little of what I did was under the direction of a teacher. Much of it was extra curricula and I did it because I loved it and was passionate enough to make time for it.

Now maybe I've been lucky, but when thinking about all of the people I've worked with over the years and work with today, I'd say that they all share that passion for software engineering. Whether they've only been in the industry for a few years or for several decades, the passion is there for all to see. Therefore, I wonder if this student had what it takes to be a good engineer. But as I said, maybe I'm just lucky in the people with whom I've been able to work, as I'm sure there are those software engineers for whom it really is just a day job and they are still good at that job. But I'd still hate to not have the passion and enthusiasm for this work!

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