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What should I do afterschool in high school if I want to be a computer engineer after college?

I just started high school and I am trying to pick my afterschool activities. I think I want to be a computer engineer after I finish college so I would like to know what you did when you were in high school afterschool, if you are a computer engineer now. Did you do clubs like computer club or did you just do projects on your own?

I really like reading about computers and taking them apart to see if I can figure out how they work, and I joined the computer club at school. The computer club is not really all that much fun right now though, so I think maybe I want to try something else. My school gives me a lot of homework which means that I only have an hour after school for fun. #engineering #extracurricular


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Iliya’s Answer

Joining clubs is great and lets you talk to like-minded individuals but as with any club the usefulness of the club is directly related to the people in it. Sometimes it just happens that there are not that many people in computer clubs (who would have thought hehe).


If you really like computers and figuring out how they work both at a basic level of the circuits and at a higher level of the software running on them then your best bet is to start doing some projects on your own time. Granted, it can be hard to motivate yourself to finish a project all the way through, that's usually where clubs come in since it's a lot easier to do a project with some friends then it is to do it all by yourself.


I, personally, always loved computers as well so any free time I had would go towards tinkering with electronics or figuring out how to program. Remember it doesn't have to just be about reading a textbook... most of the stuff you learn will be from projects that you get stuck on and need to find a solution to online or by talking to others.


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Dan’s Answer

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Hi, Alanna! I think you should do both the club and also projects at home on weekends because they will both be really helpful to you. Here are some bits from my experience; I hope it helps!




  1. I hear you that computer club might be not much fun right now. When my brother started high school, he was really into environmental issues, so he joined the school's ecology club and it was boring. So he started making the club interesting by starting projects, asking teachers for help, and encouraging people to organize field trips. Four years later, when I started high school, the Ecology Club was really big and active and was really popular. So maybe you can help make the club more interesting.




  2. When I first new I wanted to become an engineer, I thought it was interesting, but I didn't know what engineers actually DO all day. So I asked my mom for help to go meet some engineers at their offices and interview them, as if I were doing a report for school. I loved it! I discovered that the type of engineer I wanted to be was actually a boring job, and in the end I found out about types of engineering jobs I never knew existed. It was very helpful.




  3. I'm super proud of you for starting now. Many of the most successful people in the world started learning their expertise in their early teens, so it's really smart that you're starting now.




I wish you all the best.


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Matthew’s Answer

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I think the most important thing you can do is participate in clubs that allow you to demonstrate how awesome you are. Find clubs that are active, participate in competitions, and have great mentors or advisors. The best way to differentiate yourself on an application for college, graduate school, or at a career fair is with meaningful activities that (a) taught you something valuable, and (b) gave you an opportunity to compete with peers at your level. Whether or not you actually win awards at the competitions is secondary but if you start early you'll have a better chance!


As for what clubs or activities to join... I would recommend anything logic based such as the chess club or math club. Anything that gives you practice solving problems is also a great choice. Believe it or not, debate club, public speaking, or other "non-traditional" computer science activities will also help round out your experience and help you differentiate yourself.


My personal experience was very non-traditional. I worked for Microsoft in Redmond Washington right after graduating college. However, I studied chemical engineering and worked on renewable fuels in different research labs...non of this was related to computers or programming! I was also very involved in student government. I think the reason the hired me was because by the time I graduated I had participated in a number of events and won a couple of awards and had developed leadership skills that MSFT was interested in. I guess the bottom line is to go find activities that you like and that give you a chance to develop skills and have meaningful experiences in order to prepare you for the future.


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Robert’s Answer

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High School is a great time to begin your career path. For individuals interested in video gaming you must first choose what discipline you enjoy - Production, Engineering, Game Design, Quality Assurance, Marketing all play roles in creating great video games.


For students interested in Game Design or Engineering there are a number of great resources on the web. Code.Org has resources to teach students how to program, Gamasutra.com has lots of great information about the games industry. The IGDA also has local chapters for gaming professionals and attending those events (even if you have to sneak in) can introduce you to technology and resources in your local area. Computer clubs at your school or local community college can also provide valuable resources.


Getting time actually designing and building games is extremely important. There are a number of great prototyping languages available that can help budding game designers and engineers get their start. Game Salad provides a simple environment for getting familiar with graphics and game constructs without having to learn to use a more complicated language and development environment.


For fully immersive introduction to gaming you can pick up a book like "Introduction to Game Programming" which is used as the text book in some college courses. Programming languages like C++ are a must for professional level jobs and development environments like Unity also provide excellent resources online. There are other languages like Objective C, and Java but C++ will provide a stronger generalized base for getting into the industry.


Good grades in Math and English are important since most engineering roles rely on solid math skills, and communication and documentation is important in any role.


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Jagan’s Answer

It takes a lot more than computer skills to be an effective computer engineer. You should use your after school time in high school in clubs that help you hone your social and interpersonal skills. When you go to work as a computer engineer (or any other profession for that matter!), you will see that the people who are most successful at work are not necessarily the most knowledgeable about the subject related to the job; the successful ones possess superior social skills and forge strong human bonds with their colleagues. These skills are relevant to any job; I would encourage you to spend time becoming aware of them and getting better at them. You will have enough opportunity to learn computer skills at college after you enroll. Besides, the rate at which languages evolve, who is to tell that a language you learn today will still be relevant a few years hence when you graduate from college and are looking for a job?


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Sriram Phani Kumar’s Answer

Hi Alanna


I am really glad that you are thinking through and planning how to utilize your spare time. That for you is a winners character. Many people who answered above gave some awesome suggestions, and I totally agree with them. If I had to add my few cents, your age is all about growing the confidence you would need to with stand the world you will be let into. At your age you can try n many things and can still afford to fail. That gives you the liberty to try things. You can try all different things suggested in the above answers, (as someone above suggested) if you are not liking something try fixing it. Whatever you attempt to do be a keen observer and read through things. I am sure in the process you will find your niche. As you grow you will get to know how to build upon that.


Whatever you do keep enjoying it ! Keep Smiling : )
All the Best !


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Housam’s Answer

You don't have to join a bunch of clubs, I would say learn a few key skills that are related to Comp E. Learn a programming language, Java is a great place to start, use codeacademy and youtube as resources. Make your own app for android or IOS, that is practical experience that is fun. Next would be to get involved in building your own electronics I would recommend looking into arduino projects and find what you like and build it from scratch. Its going to be different and fun but that would put you very far ahead of the game once you enter college. Even learning a bit of just circuit design would assist your development. Remember to have fun and do what you like, there is no point in spending your life doing something you don't love.


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Mahesh’s Answer

You can learn by going to online free tutorials and youtube videos of the language you want to learn.


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