Computing Careers

Computer programmer

Computer programmers write, revise, test, debug, and maintain the programs that instruct computers how to carry out certain tasks. Programmers write these instructions in coding languages like Java or C++, which computers can then follow. The job of a programmer may involve of a great deal of coding to very little coding in the case of some management positions.

Database engineer

Database Engineers develop, implement, manage and maintain databases that enable you to find a friend's profile on your favorite social media network or find an article in an online library. These professionals define all of the parameters needed to store, retrieve, and delete data. Database engineers monitor, test, troubleshoot, and enhance databases as they grow and change.

Desktop support

Desktop support technicians provide technical assistance to an organization's end-users. They solve problems, answer questions, and provide instructions on how to use technology. These professionals may be part of an organization's IT department or hired on a contracting basis.

Helpdesk support

Have you ever had a computer problem and wished there was someone to call? Helpdesk support professionals help end-users or customers by diagnosing and assisting with technical problems. These professionals communicate with users in-person, via phone or electronically to address technical hardware and software issues.

IT operations manager

IT operations managers keep the gears of an organization's technical operations running smoothly. They oversee day-to-day processes including performance management, monitoring and evaluation, measuring success, IT purchasing, compliance with policies, infrastructure improvements, and resource maintenance.

IT Trainer

IT training professionals ensure that employees and end-users remain technologically savvy through the design, delivery and assessment of training programs. Training topics may include desktop applications, internet browsers, or company specific applications. They might also cover IT professional skills such as project management, security protocols, or programming languages.

Network engineer

Network engineers care for an organization's technological "nervous system" by ensuring that communication networks operate smoothly and efficiently for users and customers. They install, maintain, and support IT systems such as T1 lines, routers and firewalls. These professionals may be part of the IT department or be brought in as part of an IT consultancy.

Project manager

Have you ever wondered how the next version of your favorite phone or tablet gets released so quickly? Project managers strive to keep the projects that turn ideas into reality on time, on task and on budget. They marry technical knowledge with supervisory skills to lead a team and ensure that projects are completed efficiently and effectively.

Quality assurance

Quality assurance analysts ensure that technical products, processes, and equipment receive the gold seal of approval before being released to the customer or end user. They are responsible for establishing quality assurance measures and test plans for IT products or processes. They ensure products work effectively and are in compliance with policies, procedures, and specifications.

Requirement/architecture analyst

Have you ever used a technological product or service that was truly designed with you, the user in mind? Thank a requirements analyst. Requirements or architecture analysts find out what end-users need with regards to a technological product, platform or system. They then work closely with the development team to ensure that those needs are met in the finished product.

Sales analyst

Sales analysts connect clients and customers with technological products and services to meet their business needs. They may demonstrate products for customers to help them understand their features. Sales analysts also negotiate sales and follow-up with customers after the sale to ensure satisfaction, identify any problems, maximize usage, and recommend training.

Security analyst

Have you ever wondered how your credit card information is kept safe from hackers when you make an online purchase? Security analysts safeguard and protect an organization's technology and systems from intrusion or harm. They monitor current systems, assess potential threats, and put measures in place to ensure that files are neither deliberately or accidentally changed, damaged, deleted or even stolen.

Software designer

Software designers create software for an organization or its external clients and customers. They often see a project from inception to completion, taking into consideration the needs of clients or stakeholders. Software designers assess the requirements of the software, and ensure that they are met. They may or may not perform the actual coding for the project.

Software developer

Software developers research, design, develop, and test software and systems found in technologies ranging from automobiles, to gaming systems, to life saving medical equipment. A software developer can be involved in many different aspects of a project ranging from coding, to design, to project management.

Software engineer

Software is all around us. It is used in smart phones, GPS systems, and digital cameras. Software engineers are responsible for designing, testing, and evaluating the software that we use every day.

Software maintainer

Software maintenance engineers are responsible for the care and feeding of software programs and applications. These professionals are tasked with updating, debugging, conforming, and enhancing existing software. Software maintenance engineers ensure that software continues performing without problems and meets the changing needs of users or customers.

Software tester

Software testers evaluate software from the perspective of the end-users or customers who will be using it. They must test software from all angles to ensure that there are no existing bugs or problems. If issues are found, software testers must document them and communicate them to the development team so they can be corrected.

Technical author

Technical authors communicate written technical information in a way that is easy for people to understand. Technical authors might create materials such as training manuals, user guides, reference guides, or operating manuals, or even multimedia demos or tutorials.

Web/internet engineer

Web/internet engineers develop web pages and interfaces for an organization's external or internal websites. Responsibilities may include building web sites, internet applications, social media networks, and e-commerce applications through code. They may also include configuring web servers and network security, server-side or client-side scripting, web design and content development.

Liz Gerber - Image credit Lisa Beth Anderson
Liz Gerber
Liz Gerber - Image credit Lisa Beth Anderson

Liz Gerber earned her MS and PhD in Product Design and Management Science and Engineering at Stanford. She specializes in design and human-computer interaction, particularly how social computing supports the innovation process. Her current research investigates crowd-funding as a mechanism for reducing disparities in entrepreneurship.
Gerber's work funded by the US National Science Foundation and the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance has appeared in peer-reviewed journals, including Transactions on Computer Human Interactions, Design Studies, and Organization Science.
As an award-winning teacher and researcher, Liz has touched the lives of more than 6,000 students through her teaching at Northwestern's Segal Design Institute and Stanford University's Hasso Plattner's Institute of Design and through her paradigm-shifting creation, Design for America, a national network of students using design to tackle social challenges.

Image credit - Lisa Beth Anderson

Punch card from a COBOL program
Jean Sammet

Jean E. Sammet was one of the first developers and researchers in programming languages. During the 1950’s - 1960’s she supervised the first scientific programming group for Sperry Gyroscope Co. and served as a key member of the original COBOL (COmmon Business-Oriented Language) committee at Sylvania Electric Products. She also taught one of the first graduate programming courses in the country at Adelphi College. After joining IBM in 1961, she developed and directed the first FORMAC (FORmula MAnipulation Compiler). This was the first widely used general language and system for manipulating nonnumeric algebraic expressions. In 1979 she began handling Ada activities for IBM’s Federal Systems Division. Ada is a structured, object-oriented high-level computer programming language, designed for large, long-lived applications, where reliability and efficiency are paramount. Jean has a B.A. from Mount Holyoke College and an M.A. from the University of Illinois, both in Mathematics. She received an honorary D.Sc. from Mount Holyoke (1978).

MATLAB graph
Cleve Moler

Cleve Moler improved the quality and accessibility of mathematical software and created a highly respected software system called MATLAB. He was a professor of mathematics and computer science for almost 20 years at the University of Michigan, Stanford University, and the University of New Mexico. In the late 1970’s to early 1980’s he developed several mathematical software packages to support computational science and engineering. These packages eventually formed the basis of MATLAB, a programming environment for algorithm development, data analysis, visualization, and numerical computation. MATLAB can be used to solve technical computing problems faster than with traditional programming languages, such as C, C++, and Fortran. Today, Professor Moler spends his time writing books, articles, and MATLAB programs.

Listen to what Professor Moler has to say about his life’s work: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IT5umwNSAxE

@ symbol
Ray Tomlinson
Ray Tomlinson

Have you ever considered that someone, at some point, was in a position to choose what symbol would be used separate the user from their location in an email address? That person, it turns out, was Ray Tomlinson, and in 1971 he chose "@". Tomlinson is credited with demonstrating the first email sent between computers on a network, and when asked what inspired him to make this selection he said, “Mostly because it seemed like a neat idea.”

After completing his Master’s degree at MIT in 1965, Ray joined the Information Sciences Division of Bolt Beranek and Newman Inc. of Cambridge, Massachusetts. Since then he has made many notable contributions to the world of network computing. He was a co-developer of the TENEX computer system that was popular in the earliest days of the Internet; he developed the packet radio protocols used in the earliest internetworking experiments; he created the first implementation of TCP; and he was the principle designer of the first workstation attached to the Internet.

Cursor
James Dammann

If you have used a word processor today, moved your mouse on your laptop, dragged an object around on your smartphone, or highlighted a section of text on your tablet, you can thank Jim Dammann. In 1961 during his second year at IBM and just one year after completing his PhD, Jim created the concept of what today we all take for granted -- the cursor. This idea he documented in utilizing the cursor within word processing operations.

After retiring from IBM, Jim went on to inspire future generations of software engineers at Florida Atlantic University. His work there too demonstrated his creativity for he spent considerable effort enhancing their software engineering program by integrating ideas and feedback from local industries into the University curricular. Today, Jim lives in the Westlake Hills west of Austin Texas and spends most of his time in his art studio. He wrote and published The Opaque Decanter, a collection of poems about art, which provided a new view at part of art history.

Image credits