Regarding the Senior Project, my particular area of interest for my research paper and project is computer programming. The plan for writing the research paper will involve pulling articles on the benefits of programming that contribute to society as a whole.
Programming is a very beneficial part of today’s increasing population of people, as it creates opportunities for bigger projects that can lead into a more simplified way of living. This spans throughout multiple areas of our society, such as education for young children, personal computers, mobile phones, home security, and the medical field.
One of the fields that benefit greatly from programming is the medical field. E. Kevin Hall is one of the most well-known doctor programmers. He created an iPhone-based study with an application that helps him learn how to improve his patients’ treatments. There were also several applications that other doctors use in order to make it easier for dealing with patients. One of these applications is a mobile program that lets diabetic patients share their blood glucose levels with their providers and caregivers. A second one pairs health and nutrition coaches with chronically-ill patients. Some applications also include collaboration and patient information being securely shared with other doctors. Several more of these applications include virtual consultation tools, video conferencing, mobile heart monitors, and wireless blood pressure cuffs. By the year of 2013, just about half of all doctors had some sort of electronic medical record system which could help doctors easily manage patient records, which was for doctors to perform their work better. The medical records aim to reduce medical errors and provide doctors with vital information about patients at critical moments (Farr, Christina). Mathew, a 15-year veteran of an emergency room at the Princess Royal University Hospital in the U.K., created an application that aimed at helping physicians manage the care of Parkinson’s disease patients, gathering data on the symptoms between clinic visits. The application analyzes the data and makes it more accessible to physicians in an easy-to-use format, which helps save time, and leads towards more informed treatments. Applications like that are used to connect doctors to their patients instead of serving as a barrier between them (bootcamp.case.edu).
Programming is also very beneficial to NASA with their mission towards getting into space. One of the ways it has helped NASA with space travel was the Voyager crafts one and two. This required people who knew some of the really old programming languages, which includes assembly languages from the late 1950s like Cobol, Fortran, and Algol. These old languages were used because the amount of space that was used to run the program was around 64 kilobytes of memory, which is not easy to run the modern languages of today. A feature that the voyagers would use is onboard computers which could make more functions of the spacecraft automatic instead of using a sequencer which would use radio or audio tones to turn on instruments. “The flight software was basically completely re-written in order to have a spacecraft that could be nearly autonomous and continue sending back data to us even if we lost communication with it”. This meant that there would be less human interaction with the voyager in-order to keep it in working order, and it would still send back data after losing communication. The engineers would also try to make a sort of ‘energy audit’ to check the remaining energy requirements of the instruments onboard and use shutdown procedures to make the most of the energy that was left on the spacecraft (Wenz, John). One of the people who heavily influenced space travel was Margaret Hamilton, who invented the modern concept of software and landed men on the moon. Her original plans were to obtain a graduate degree in math, but she stuck as a programmer at MIT. She invented core ideas in computer programming with her colleagues, writing the code for the world’s first portable computer and becoming responsible for the onboard flight software on the Apollo computers in the Apollo spacecraft, which was hatching a $400 billion industry. The computers were 70 pounds, and were portable unlike any other, being one of the first important computers to use integrated circuits rather than transistors, including an onboard navigation system designed to be operated by humans with ‘fly-by-wire’ autopilot, meaning the aircraft could fly on its own (McMillan, Robert). All of this together made it possible for Neil Armstrong to make it on the moon, and made space travel much more viable.
Programming is also very beneficial when it comes to the security of your home and yourself. A very significant advancement for home security is being able to use your mobile device to receive notifications, control your alarm, locks, cameras, and other products wherever you are. The first example is being able to use your smartphone to interact with and monitor your home. You can get notifications if an alarm goes off, set automated rules, access real-time videos of visitors (expected or not), and talk to the person at your door. The second example is high-powered infrared LEDs for cameras. These lights increase the usability of your cameras by producing much higher quality footage during the day and night, which sends a snapshot of the video image to your smartphone. The third example is facial-recognition technology. This technology identifies potential threats using smart video cameras on doorbells which can let you know if it spots a stranger or someone you know. This is done through using an application that tags faces you know and will send notifications when it notices a recognizable face come into the camera’s view. The fourth example is smart home locks. This makes the traditional ‘hiding a key under a mat’ method obsolete. This is because there are locks that use a keypad and/or Bluetooth or Wi-Fi connection to lock and unlock the door. They are very convenient because it enables you to check the lock status any time through an application on your smartphone. You can also ask a smart assistant like Google Home to lock all of the doors, and if an unexpected house guest shows up, you can give them a temporary passcode or even unlock the door, regardless of your current location (Gregory, Jennifer). Another useful technology that helps keep yourself secure is two-factor authentication (or 2FA for short). This technology is used when you want to make your accounts much more secure through adding an additional step to the sign-in process, requiring both your password and a code that gets sent to something only you would like a mobile phone. Your phone would be sent a message including this code which you then enter into the website, letting you into the account. In addition to the cameras that you have on your home, you can set virtual boundaries. These boundaries will send an alert to you if they are ever breached by somebody who is not authorized to be there, choosing one region of the camera to be secured. You can also help secure your house more physically, for example, if you install a smoke alarm in your house, you would be alerted if there happened to be a fire in your house. You can also receive an alert whenever your house has a water leak, preventing any disasters from happening in the future before they happen (Johnson, Allie).
Children can also learn some valuable skills at a young age from programming. A very important skill obtained from programming is the ability to have a much more computational way of thinking. This way of thinking breaks some large tasks into a logical sequence of small steps, diagnosing errors, and coming up with new approaches when necessary (Stenger, Marianne). These smaller subdivisions of large tasks into smaller tasks gets handled in the most efficient way possible. It teaches children how the basic inner workings of computers are the way they are. This makes the kids feel successful telling a computer what they want the computer to do, and it sets up a foundation that leads the kids to a lifetime of successful use and management of technology in their lives. It also helps with ‘out of the box’ thinking, allowing children to grow a much more creative mindset, as coding and problem solving can be interpreted in many different ways (Porter, John). Kids with educational backgrounds in programming and coding find it much easier to get easily obtainable well-paying jobs as adults. “As technology becomes more and more integrated with our everyday life, computer science positions are only going to grow and grow”, said Lindsey Handley, which explains how easy it will become to get a position as a computer programmer in the future (Emigh, Jacqueline). Programming also helps with teaching children discipline. The computers force students to break down problems into constituent parts, and requires them to think logically about the problems both logically and analytically. This skill proves useful whether the students are trying to be in the field of politics, medicine, law, or engineering. The computer does not have an opinion on the students’ ideas being correct or not, rather the computers only care whether the students’ code uses the correct syntax or not, either meaning the code is right or it is wrong with little to no middle ground. This means that the students can’t argue with the machine about whether their code was correct or not, because the computer will not run ‘bad code’, holding the students accountable, teaching them disciplined thinking as a byproduct (Sweeney, Peter).
One of the biggest industries that have sparked from programming is the mobile phone industry. These devices are used to make life easier through many means. One of these is communication. Mobile phones allow for talking to another person whenever and wherever you are. They allow you to make and receive calls just from pressing a name in a list, meaning that you do not have to keep them in a phone book of some sort. Mobile phones also really help when you have distant family that are very far away and helps keep you in touch. Another helpful feature of these devices is for emergencies. If you were to get into an accident or had some sort of trouble or life-threatening situation, you can use your mobile phone to call 911, which helps the authorities, medical professionals, or fire fighters get to where you are as quick as they can to resolve the situation. A third helpful feature of these devices is being able to store data on them. This ranges from pictures, text and audio, and keeping your important files and documents wherever you go, allowing you to access them using a device that fits in your pocket. They also help massively when it comes to entertainment. A lot of newer mobile phones have the ability to play music, record audio, watch videos, and playing games, which can be a nice way to pass the time if you are not occupied by anything. Mobile phones can also run applications like word and spreadsheet processors, which can be used for on-the-go computing. This also includes alarm clocks, calculators, and converters, which can all improve your productivity (‘Importance of Mobile Phones’).
Another big innovation in the technology industry is the personal computer. Computers are a great way to enhance your productivity at work, creating efficient ways to perform tasks much faster than a human can. This feature makes the computer a widespread choice for industries, and creates jobs for those who are into programming and computer science since you need someone who can code the computers used at work. Computers are also really helpful in the fact that you can use them to connect with other people in order to communicate, engage, and interact using instant messaging, email, blogs, online forums, social media, and other options. There is also the factor of entertainment which you can get from high-end desktops, which includes watching movies, sports events, and news programs, shopping, socializing, downloading videos, and playing games. Computers also help with the education of millions of young teens, college going students, and post-graduates. Democratization, reach, and penetration of education out to students in far-flung and geographically remote regions becomes possible with computers and the Internet (Dutta, Pallab). Computers also make a luxury of our everyday lives possible which is vehicles. Most modern -day cars are manufactured with at least one computer. It helps with keeping emissions as low as possible, and receives information from many different sensors for things like oxygen, air pressure, air temperature, engine temperature, throttle position, and more. It allows for more control over features of the car like fuel injectors, spark plugs, and the idle speed for the best performance possible with low emissions. The computer can also tell when there is a problem with the car and will show a light like the ‘Check Engine’ light to inform the driver about it. Mechanics also have specialized code readers (which you can also buy on Amazon) that read diagnostic codes from the computer that can help point you towards what the problem is which helps resolving the issue a whole lot. Lots of cars also use the computer to control the automatic transmission, read the wheel speed and control the brakes of ABS, control the air bag system, keyless entry or security system like an alarm, advanced climate control systems, motorized seats and mirrors that can remember the settings for multiple drivers, radios or CD players with a digital display, and cruise control systems (auto.howstuffworks.com).
It is also believed that coding will be one of the most important skills that we can have in the future. Major tech companies such as Google and Facebook compete to hire young coders, which can have an expected salary upwards of $100,000 – $120,000. This makes coding one of the most profitable careers you could be a part of. Another reason coding will be important to our futures is due to the automation of jobs. Since automation requires technology, it requires programmers to code the machines, since it is insanely difficult to create a program that can create programs. Coding is also used for tasks like complex spreadsheets for accountants, and graphics software for artists and designers. There is also the polarization of literature and maths, which is strongly unified in coding, which understanding can help with problem solving and learning to think both logically and creatively. Another reason that coding will be important to our futures is that no two projects will be the same. Each project usually has a team behind it, and since there will always be some sort of problem to solve, there will be a solution hidden behind coding. Even better, we have only begun coding, and programming is still in its early ages; using some of the oldest programming languages like Fortran and Cobol even today. This rapid advancement of technology has led to the development of UNIX in 1969 and TCP/IP (the protocol that is behind what powers ‘The Internet’), all while the first iPhone was introduced in 2007. From this exponential growth throughout the world, this shows how technology is always improving with new features, and that fifty years from now, programming might not even be the same as it is right now (Holden, John).
When starting to code, you will realize all of the benefits that come from it that will vastly affect the flow of your personal life. One of the first benefits you will start to notice is that it will be easier to exercise more. This is because in programming, you need diligence and willpower to commit to a plan, and this is important towards making a plan towards more exercise and health. Another benefit is the positive impact that it will have on your career. Learning to code can help take away worry from changing your career because the salary potential and job growth are some of the greatest you can find. There is also the extreme flexibility in your scheduling since you can work around your day job and other commitments, and you can work on individual projects instead of working on multiple for a single company. Yet another great benefit from learning programming is enhancements to your social life. Programming creates an outlet that you can use for interactions with the rest of the world, including those that are close to you. You can also create applications and websites for things that you most care about and to get together with those who share your interests or beliefs with. There is also the ability to bring your greatest ideas to life. Since we have the tools now that we can create projects, learning programming can give you a gateway to transform your ideas into projects that match your vision, without losing any of the details as you communicate it to another developer. More importantly, programming helps you become more self-confident. Knowing that you have accomplished something can be one of the greatest feelings in the world, and learning to code gives you that sort of empowerment. Knowing that you do not have to use a template to create a website selling a product or service, or not having to wait on someone else to create a program improving the workflow at your job, it will develop your confidence and in general positively affect you as a whole.
Altogether, programming is a fascinating subject that is very helpful to all scopes of people. From doctors to space engineers and even consumers, programming finds its way into the everyday life of just about every person in our modern-day society. From something as small as a smartphone that holds the information of the world at the reach of your pocket, to vehicles that help people get around places and even getting humans travelling through space, programming becomes more and more relevant to society as the demand for more programmers goes up over the years.