Things to do/learn over Summer Break for a Computer Engineering Freshman. Lives in Maryland.
May 18, 2008 7:48 PM   Subscribe

Things to do/learn over Summer Break for a Computer Engineering Freshman. Lives in Maryland.

Hey guys summer vacation is almost here for me and Im wondering what to do over break. I dont really want to waste it which is what i usually do. Im a Computer Engineer/Scientist soon to be sophmore and I was thinking i could get ahead in this field, maybe some nice books to read or advice would be helpful. Computer guys a couple of years ahead me what advice could you tell me on what to do over the summer that you wish you had done (internship is now out of the question btw). I was thinking also about certifications or just random things i could learn to pad my resume to hopefully get a nicer internship next year.

On another note, i live in the Maryland area and do have access to a car so if anyone has any suggestions on places to go in Maryland, maybe sites to see (especially small little known ones, like nature trails and parks) that would be nice too.
posted by Javed_Ahamed to Grab Bag (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Write some software for fun. You will learn a lot (and it will look good on your resume). People hiring for internships will prefer someone who can actually get something done in a summer, and if you've never written any code outside of the classroom this will be difficult.

Don't go for certifications! Such a waste of time, and people will pass over your resume because you have them.
posted by sergent at 8:07 PM on May 18, 2008

3 years from now, where do you want to be?

Do you want to be going for the MS? (my main regret now is not staying in school, the college life's a pretty good gig in retrospect). If so, then I don't really have any advice I guess.

These days the frontier of the field is as close as its ever been.

Microsoft is offering free tools and APIs for its XNA/xbox thing . . . there's the consolidated advances of the past 15+ years of computer graphics, stuff that blows away what were once $100,000 graphics systems, all at your investigation, wrapped with a friendly C# front-end.

Addtionally, being a student you can get good deals on 3D modelling software like SOFT IMAGE and Maya. Something to tool around with at night.

There's AI / natural language processing. Sure there's probably an upper division course offering for this, but really this is a fun self-study thing.

You could poke around the Google Summer of Code thing. Might be too late to join, dunno.

Then there's internet stuff. AJAX is progressing, the Canvas tag is becoming standard, there's AIR, Silverlight, plain JavaScript, PHP5, etc etc.

If you're into mobile dev then you could look at the iPhone SDK.

All this stuff didn't even exist when I was your age!
posted by tachikaze at 8:10 PM on May 18, 2008

You should check out the NCR trail, and if you like hiking at all, Gunpowder State Park. Northern Maryland has some of the best hiking on the east coast, or so I've been told. Also, apparently great rock-climbing.

If you're living in Baltimore, go to some of the art fairs over the summer. Every now and then they shut down Charles Street and throw a big party - lots of fun, lots of funky vendors, defintiely worth checking out.
posted by puckish at 8:21 PM on May 18, 2008

Get involved with some open-source projects. An incredibly useful skill to have is being able to take over someone else's code. Start here.
posted by spiderskull at 9:42 PM on May 18, 2008

By the way, another approach is to just browse SourceForge, find a project you like, then contact the devs to see if there's anything they could use a hand with. Of course, the bigger projects (e.g. Firefox) have their own methods of getting involved.
posted by spiderskull at 9:46 PM on May 18, 2008

If you do happen to grab a copy of Houdini or Maya or something in the 3D modeling/ VFX arena, a good grasp of Python will not steer you wrong in that arena. While you can (and, if you're into it, should) learn MEL or HScript or the custom API of your package of choice, the VFX industry is moving towards widespread Python adoption.

A lot of VFX work is done in Linux, too; if you're not familiar already and you think you might be into it, you should grab a cheap box and set up a development environment in either Debian or Red Hat alongside your Blender/ Maya/ whatever install.

(Relational database work in PostgreSQL or MySQL would be extra credit. There's only so much summer, after all, and you do want to get out, catch some movies, see your friends, go biking, whatever.)
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 10:01 PM on May 18, 2008

I would suggest doing something completely and totally unrelated to computer engineering. You're likely going to be doing computer engineering for the next several years straight (and even if you love-love-love it, you're going to want to run away screaming for a break at some point). Go explore a new hobby, or learn the fascinating histories of everyday objects, or do some volunteer work. You'll be glad you took a break once the school year starts up again. =)
posted by phunniemee at 10:01 PM on May 18, 2008

Party, travel, fuck. Seriously, now is the time to live care-free. You'll have plenty of time for the serious stuff, and life is so not about the serious stuff.
posted by mpls2 at 4:42 AM on May 19, 2008

Response by poster: lol mpls
posted by Javed_Ahamed at 7:52 PM on May 19, 2008

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