Computers Broke the Old World

Why I Want To Start The Accelerated Masters Program at The University of Alabama

Good News!

I just found out I got accepted into the Accelerated Masters Program in Computer Science at The University of Alabama, and I’m very excited to get started in the fall semester.

I wanted to share my statement of purpose I wrote for the application below.

Statement of Purpose

Since starting at The University of Alabama three years ago, I have further developed three lifelong passions: entrepreneurship, reading, and technology. As someone who has ambitions to contribute to the next generation of paradigm shifting tools, I view graduate study in computer science as the next step in my path.

I love learning for its own sake, and my self-directed reading throughout college has centered around the intersection of my three core interests. Reflection on the key ideas from these efforts provided me with my guiding world-view: computers broke the old world.

Zero marginal-cost economics, instant digital delivery, globally accessible talent pools, international communication networks, and computational power have completely redefined modern life. When the only constant is unprecedented change, old models just don’t work anymore. Often, credentials don’t even get a foot in the door. The road to success and fulfillment has shifted from prioritizing knowledge to prioritizing practical skills.

The skills I’ve discerned to be most important are the ability to master complicated, new subjects quickly, and to be able to leverage intelligent machines to produce new value. In this winner-take-all economy, disproportionate rewards accrue to those at the top, therefore mastery, and being the best in a field are more important than ever before.With these assumptions at the center of my future planning, a masters degree in computer science is the perfect opportunity to develop myself and my skills for life after college.

Computer science is centered around action. Unlike fields such as chemistry or biology, the full-suite of tools for experimentation are always accessible for computer scientists. Where I often have to force focus for other studies, depth is my standard when doing computer science work or participating in hackathons.

Further, I have a rich appreciation for the history of computers and their world changing implications over the past 100 years. Books like Steven Levy’s Hackers and Walter Isaacson’s Innovators fascinate me with stories of how the “odd hobby” for a relatively small amount of people had such a profound effect on the quality of day-to-day life for the entire planet.

I’ve also drawn particular inspiration from the autobiographies of intellectual giants like Benjamin Franklin and Richard Feynman. What set these men apart from others was the bar they set for themselves for considering a concept to be understood. Where some are content if they can replicate material for an exam, I find that model of learning to be ineffective and depressing, even if I succumb to it occasionally myself. This is precisely why I crave the rigor of graduate study as a welcome challenge. At that level, gaping holes in knowledge must be filled in order to succeed.

Beyond the classroom, The University of Alabama has been a tremendous force for good in my life through the numerous opportunities it has opened for me. My freshman summer, I interned at a tech startup in Jerusalem, Israel. I loved the energetic culture and the work I was given. While there, I had an independent research and development project in machine learning and computer vision. That fall and the following summer, I had invaluable opportunities to see a very different working environment through two separate internships at the Mercedes Benz plant in Tuscaloosa. I worked first in Electrical Quality Assurance and later in Human Resources.

Moreover, throughout my time in Tuscaloosa, I’ve participated in entrepreneurial programs including The Edward K. Aldag Business Plan Competition, The River Pitch, and Startup Weekend. In the summer of 2019, I had an amazing experience as part of the first inaugural Crimson Entrepreneurship Academy at the Edge Incubator and Accelerator. This past fall, I was fortunate to use my merit funds for a study abroad in Bangkok, Thailand, which was an eye-opening look into a completely different world. Completing my last chapter at UA through the AMP program is the ideal conclusion for my college career. By dual-enrolling with my remaining merit funds, this path becomes a financial possibility for me.

In terms of next steps, I want to get my professional start in a challenging software role in a company such as Google, Amazon, or Apple where I’ll develop disciplined engineering habits. With employers like this, my application is massively improved by adding a year of in-depth study. Longer term, I want to transition into starting my own company and/or nonprofit to create jobs and find new and innovative ways to use computers and software to improve people’s lives.

Published on Apr 11, 2020

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