Computers are part of our everyday lives—and software engineers are the ones who make them work…and work to their full potential. Software lets you operate a laptop, watch a YouTube video, play Minecraft, block pop-ups, research a class project, download a book…and lots of things you probably don’t even know a computer can do.
One of the hottest fields in software engineering today is artificial intelligence, or AI, which means machines that can think and act like humans. Think Google, or Siri, or surgery-performing robots, or the way Netflix knows just what you want to watch, or how SnapChat lets you add special effects to your photos. Software engineers are in great demand to bring us the future—self-driving cars and drones, projects to zero in on the right combination of cancer drugs to help each patient, and maybe even ways to wipe out disease altogether, eliminate poverty, and prevent environmental catastrophes.
Interested in becoming a software engineer?
Check this video out:
Courtesy of Rockwell Collins
Software engineers also have a big hand in 3D printing, a field that is constantly amazing us. A plastic beak for an injured eagle, a bionic ear, cars, entire buildings, pizza for astronauts on their journey into deep space are just a few of the things that have been printed. What would you like to print out? Engineers at the U.S. Department of Energy printed a giant plastic tool to construct the wings of an airplane. At about the size of an SUV, the world’s largest solid “print out” took 30 hours to print, and cost much less than a custom-made metal tool.
Red Light, Green Light
Is there a wizard sitting in a dark basement somewhere making all the red lights change to green and then back to red again so cars can move through the city without crashing into each other? It is actually software programs that control our traffic lights.
The Ferndale Torpedoes are playing the Smithtown Flames this Saturday. Or is it the Prescott Hurricanes? Ever wonder who makes up the soccer schedule so that you get to play every team in the league? It could be done without software—but the program makes it a lot easier! And you can bet the pros are getting help from software engineers, not just in scheduling but in outlining the winning plays.
When the doctor sends your blood sample to the lab, you want your own results and not someone else’s, right? With labs getting millions of blood tests a year, they must keep track of whose sample is whose and make sure blood is correctly tested with clean, well-maintained equipment. Software engineers play a big part in all that.
What a Character!
Ok, AI has been used in video games for years, but now the characters
are behaving more like humans and have individual personalities
that remember what happened in the past… think Middle Earth:
Shadow of Mordor and Optimus Prime from Transformers. Software
engineers have a role in writing AI programs that give characters
Talk to Anyone
Sure there are computer programs that let you translate written material into English, French, Italian, Swahili or whatever you like. But engineers are now working on ear buds and headphones that will have real time translation capabilities, letting you carry on a conversation in any one of the world’s thousands of languages.