What I learnt at University

I had a great time at uni. I spent 4 years working my ass off trying to do as well as I could in my sometimes-impossibly-hard Comp Sci and Maths courses. Sure, I also met a lot of fun people, did a lot of fun stuff, held down a part-time Comp Sci tutor job and all that other stuff, but I studied really hard too. Most of my papers had weekly assignments hard enough to make most people want to quit and a lot of my papers weren’t worth many credits. I don’t know, sometimes it felt like my courses were harder and more work than some of my other fellow students.

Great, but was it relevant?

After being a Software Engineer in several different roles in the IT industry for 8 years now, I have come to the conclusion that I’ve never used (and probably never will) most of what I learnt at University. Academia is like that – you learn crazy hard stuff for the sake of learning. I’m not complaining though – I really enjoyed all the theory I learnt, I’m just not sure how useful / relevant it is in today’s typical software development roles.

Anyway, I’ve still got a few of my assignments from one of the hardest papers I did – COMP473 – Formal Aspects of Concurrent Systems. I’m not even sure they’re still running this paper at Victoria University of Wellington anymore, but here they are. I seriously haven’t done anything like this in any of my roles in the last 8 years:

Sadly, nowadays, I’m not sure I understand a word of what my answers actually meant! I can’t help but think that I’m getting dumber… but then I realize that most of the work I do these days isn’t rocket science and I’m just out of practice at solving complex problems. Perhaps I should take a new University course?

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5 thoughts on “What I learnt at University

  1. Definitely take another course if you want to. That is what I did.

    I too came from highly mathematical courses and went into development. But I missed the act of learning at university so much I decided to go back part time.

    While these courses may not be relevant they are extremely useful in regards to the skills that are learnt, as I am sure you know…

      • @Annie:
        Hi Annie

        I went back and an currently doing a masters in astrophysics.

        I do not plan to use these skills directly, but its damn fun learning them!

  2. Hi Annie

    I’ll leave note as I’m waiting for the ‘sql server 2008 service pack 1’ to download. In the background I have the Science channel on. Gee, only 65% downloaded so far.

    I went to University of Houston and major in computer science. Actually I enjoyed the course work. Started work at American Airlines as a TPF assembler programmer. After 18 years of ‘Load address branch to solution’ I seque into C# and web developement on the .NET Framework. Currently, I am working for the State of Nebraska, Department of Natural Resources as a web developer.

    bill

  3. Hi Annie,

    I know you worked hard on your assignments as I marked some of them! You were a great student.

    I would recommend doing a professional masters degree to complement what you already have. Have a look at the Oxford one. If you remember Angela she teaches the Agile Methods course in the programme. Email her to find out more.
    http://www.cs.ox.ac.uk/softeng/

    Good luck.

    Cheers Craig

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