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Will computer science and learning java be essential in the next 5 years?

I am taking computer science now at my high school, and I have been told that it is a very necessary skill. How important is this skill? #technology #coding #computerscience

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Steven’s Answer

Hey Patrick,


I'm a college intern with Verizon this summer. There are a ton of oppurtunities in computer science and many different career paths you can take with it from networks, app development, web, gaming, etc. So it's kind of hard to say which programming language will be essential for the path you choose to take.


But I can say that most colleges start you off with either Java, python, or the C languages. I'd recommend either picking one of the languages based on the college you plan on attending or the projects you want to create. For example, if you want to do android development then java would be a great choice.


Last piece of advice. As a beginner in college, focus on learning the core fundamentals of computer science such as data structures, algorithms, operating systems, networking, etc. The languages and tech you use in industry will always change so don't necessarily stress about picking a first or second language. Trust me when I say after your first and second language, it becomes way easier to pick up a third or a fourth.


Good luck!

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G. Mark’s Answer

Let me be brief -- learning Java will not be essential. Computer Science will be very valuable. Java is one of many languages that one could learn, but learning it is certainly a good way to understand key concepts and branch into other languages. C++ would be a good language to learn.

Computer Science is more than programming. The field is fairly essential to understanding much of the technology that ever other field is absorbing.

There was a time when we tried to apply algorithms and algorithmic programming to all sorts of problems, and as is society's wont, problems to be tackled are getting bigger and more complex and bordering situations that are incredibly difficult to solve with simple algorithms. A case in point is autonomous vehicles. The fact is that driving a car is an incredibly complex problem. It seems simple, but like many problems facing people, when the real world mucks things up with exceptions, the complexity increases geometrically. So many attempts at autonomous vehicles in the past had to be severely limited to simple situations, known paths, few obstacles, etc., etc.. Then AI took hold, and specifically Machine Learning. With ML, we relied less on trying to build algorithms to cover every possible situation, but more on simply providing scads of experiential data to the machine for it to learn how to drive in all those weird possible circumstances.

The point of all this is simple. Computers are everywhere, but computer science is evolving like many other fields, but at a faster rate. The result of this is the just programming is not sufficient. Learning the mathematics and theory of the evolving application of computers as well as understanding everything about the problem to be solved itself. Want to program a robot chef? First learn to cook. Want to build a robot car? First learn to drive in all the places it will be driving. This is what we call Design Thinking, and it requires us to make machines that do what we do by learning the way we do it. So is Java essential? No. But it's a start of a very, very long road. The upside of this is that it will be fascinating and LOTS of FUN.

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Nicole Raquel’s Answer

Hello Patrick!


My name is Nicole and I'm a college intern with Verizon this summer. Adding to what Drew and Darrin said, yes computer science will be essential in the next 5 years. Think about all of the interactions you have with other people during the day and keep an eye out for how many of them include technology in some way. Ordering an Uber ride with your phone to go to the movies. Buying your ticket online or at the theatre where you pick a seat in the app and have your tickets printed out. Setting up a doctor's appointment via a tablet at their office. Even checking in for a flight from your smartphone.


Many of the fields you may choose to study or work in include technology in some way or another. Knowing about computer science will help you understand the fundamentals of a program/application and you'll be able to adjust to different technologies faster because it will become more intuitive. It will also give you the tools to become an asset for the company/organization you decide to work for. Many places are leaning towards automation and being able to code will help you better identify what areas can improve their efficiency (and you can suggest or even write an app to better organize the action).


In regards to Java, I don't feel comfortable saying that it will be essential in the next 5 years but it is a good language to start learning to program in. A lot of applications (both web and phone apps) today use Java so it would be a good skill to know if you decide to look into a computer science related field of study or job in the near future. If you feel Java isn't for you, I wouldn't shy away from programming as a whole because of it. Talk to the teacher giving the class to see if you can submit your assignments in another language. There are a lot of videos, links, books, and tutorials available that can help you learn other languages quickly and easily. Maybe you can try coding in Scala (similar to Java but less wordy), Python, or even C++. Something that might help is thinking of coding languages as you think of human languages such as English, Spanish, or French. Computers can't connect the dots in the same way we do so we can't talk to them in the same way we would other humans. They need things phrased in a particular way that may seem choppy and tedious when written out but understandable once you know the logic of what you want to say (flowcharts help a lot).


I hope you find the coding languages of interest to you and that you can absorb as much as possible during your programming class. Happy coding!

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Jeni’s Answer

Hi, Patrick! I'm Jeni and I have been a software engineer for the past 20 years. Like yourself, my journey in software engineering started in school.

Will computer science be essential? All signs suggest that it will a highly valuable skill to have. With our trends towards automation and AI, it is likely that the skills required in the workforce will shift even more towards software engineering. And, frankly, right now, we don't have enough engineers to get all the jobs filled in the U.S.

Will Java be essential in the next five years? That depends. I know many engineers who have never touched anything related to Java. I, personally, have been in Java and the JVM since the very first JEE spec reference implementation. The industry is driving towards "full stack developers" - those who understand both the user-facing part of the applications and the backend part. That means understanding JavaScript and something related to the JVM would be essential if you are going to go into application development.

You may not! You may not want a career in software engineering. Even if you do not pursue that road in the future, you will really be more comfortable in most workplace settings if you have some understanding of JVM-based languages. While Java is not "the great hotness" that it was 10-20 years ago, we still have the position of most business apps in production, by language (https://www.tiobe.com/tiobe-index/). It has been this way for about a decade, roughly, I think. The fact is this: there are still mainframe based systems running critical business systems; these are slow to change. So, our heavy investment in Java from the 90's until now mean that there is a LOT of Java code out there.

Here's the opposite perspective of that: Java is *the* most used, purely Object Oriented language that we have in production. In the current software engineering environment, many people are reacting against the verbosity and "clunkiness" of traditional OO designs. Lots of folks are moving towards functional programming languages (Go, Elixir, etc). So, if you think you might want to pursue a career in software engineering, the problem solving skills and patterns that you learn in Java will serve you well. And, you might want to look closely at functional languages as well to allow your brain to see how to solve problems differently in a functional paradigm. It's pretty different!

Best wishes to you!

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Dr. Drew’s Answer

Computer science is only becoming more important as time progresses. Computers are the backbone of everything these days. There are many different avenues you can pursue in the computer science world, from software development, networking, administration, big data, and analytics, to artificial intelligence, automation (self driving cars anyone?) and robotics. Computer science touches almost every field out there in some form or another.

And while you may or may not use Java later, it is a great place to start and learn critical thinking and the ability to break tasks down. And from there you can adapt to other progamming languages or move to other skill sets under IT like system administration or virtualization. What skills you are leaning now will be applicable throughout just about every aspect of computer science and beyond.

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Gwen’s Answer

I have been in the Software/IT Industry for a very long time...Computer Science will definitely be very essential in the next 5 Years. Learning Java is not essential, but can be helpful. There are other Programming/Scripting Languages that have started to be very important like React, GraphQL and Python. Cloud Computing is HOT right now and I expect it to be more essential over the next few years. Cyber Security is another area that is HOT and will always be essential.

Gwen recommends the following next steps:

Check out Cloud-Computing
Check out Cyber Security
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Darrin’s Answer

Yes, and you are fortunate to have a chance in HS to study CS. It is becoming difficult to name a career where having at least a basic understanding of Computer Science will not be helpful.

Having this in HS gives you an opportunity to see if you want to focus on the many types of IT careers. I fell in love with software development during my HS years and have been working in IT for more than 25 years now.

Java is a great language to learn, I would also suggest Python which is a bit easier to learn and becoming very comon.

Good luck
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