Dan, Computer Science
Computers have been around for a very short time relative to all of human history. In that short span of time, we’ve advanced greatly. That’s what I find interesting: If I’m in computers, then that is how I can help advance society—through my ideas.
What I like is solving problems, and I want to try to solve problems with computing. I’m interested in a lot of areas. I like computers in anything. Computers in medicine. Computers in physics. I had this idea about computers in agriculture: We have hydroponic farming, and I wonder if one day we should we make fully automatic farms. I also like robotics, as long as the robotics have a purpose.
One of the most positive experiences I’ve had during school was when I was doing a competition related to software development. I had to develop an app with educational or social value, and mine was this program that takes the data from bike accidents and filters it to a form that’s useful. I got into the top five in the competition. I thought that was a pretty good sign; I had done something that was worth considering.
My biggest challenge in school is that people really get hung up on first impressions. And for me, sometimes first impressions are not good. I may say things that are interpreted the wrong way. I also take a little bit longer to process certain requests or I may have follow-up questions on things that for other kids is implied.
I was diagnosed with a form of autism spectrum disorder. I think more literally than a lot of people do. A lot of times when I hear expressions I don’t know, I always go to the literal definition first. Sometimes people use figurative speech. And sarcasm is a particular difficulty. Also, sometimes I laugh at things that people think are inappropriate and not funny—because I see a different way how they are funny or I see humor in a different way.
“Neurodiversity just means that there’s a group of many people who think differently. There are always many things you can draw from a situation; there are many ways you can think about how something works. I think it’s important to have a large quantity of people who think differently; otherwise, we’ll just have a bunch of people who think things work the same way. If we have the same kinds of people in the group, nothing is going to progress. Meanwhile, if you have a group of different thinkers, maybe they’ll all think of something new.”
I find it hard to start conversations with new people. You have to forget your fears or toss them aside. For example, if you have a bad conversation, so what? You move on. That’s how it works. So you have to think about things as, “What have I got to lose?” And if you have nothing to lose, then why wouldn’t you do it? That’s pretty much the mentality that gave me the confidence to try talking more to people.
My education in technology sciences gives me knowledge to use in the future. Adept problem-solving while I’m in school—that’s something that will be necessary in the future so I can solve problems at work. My dream job is probably to be a software developer, because it gives you opportunities to solve a lot of problems.
I think that my perspective could be a benefit to a company or organization. Sometimes when neurotypical people see something, they have a tendency to look at it with biases. As a person who has a form of autism, I like to look at things very literally. I think that’s important because if you look at things the way they are, that’s very beneficial.