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Environmental Science (and Information Technology?)

  1. Nov 28, 2014 #1


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    I have an AS degree in Computer Science. I'm in the process of transferring to a 4-year university to pursue a BS in Envionrmental Science. I've always been heavily interested in computers, including running my own web & email server, database administration, hardware, and networking. I have run some website communities and know a bunch of programming/scripting languages.

    I decided against getting a BS in Computer Science because I didn't want to sit in front of a PC in a cubical all day. The environment is a strong passion of mine, and I want to be able to travel the world and help impoverished countries. I crave a career with a "higher meaning" (for lack of a better phrase) as opposed to just making a company some money by running their database or writing some code.

    I'm considering double-majoring now in Environmental Science and Information Science & Technology. A lot of my AS degree credits will transfer into the IS&T program. I was wondering if anyone had opinions on double-majoring and the career paths in both of these fields (separately or simultaneously). Since computers and technology is used everywhere, I'd imagine one can apply a IS&T degree virtually anywhere. Even if I don't get a job in a CS field, I can still put my CS skills to use.

    Thanks for the advice!
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 29, 2014 #2
    That combination of fields struck a chord with me. My anecdotal 2 cents:

    I worked in typical CS jobs in IT security for more than 10 years (though I am a physicist), then did another MSc in renewable energy while working on a side-project - developing a prototype of a heat pump system. Now I am actually doing both - I am still supporting some of my long-term IT clients while slowly growing the heat pump business. For me that's a great combination, and I stopped trying to explain why these combination is straight-forward although there are some connections (smart grid, control systems...)

    My insights so far:

    - I am running my own business since a long time. I don't think I would be able to work on such a weird combination of projects in any job as an employee.
    - Both "IT" (or CS) and "Renewable Energy" (or Environmental Science) are rather broad fields. I specialized in narrow niches in both, and it is this narrow niches that clients are focusing at and googling for. So I advise to gain skills in experience in specific sub-fields. If I would hire somebody or search for a contractor, I'd be perhaps more interested in projects like your running some servers on the side or building whatever fancy device than in your grades. I'd have a look at Raspberry Pi projects in home automation or the like.
    - As for "higher meaning": Yes, I was looking for that, too, ever since I started to study physics once, and switching to renewable energy in part was also triggered by the often not-that-higher meaning of typical corporate projects. However, I found out I am much more satisfied and happy at work if I focus on an interesting engineering task at hand first - and consider the positive impact on "the world" just a side-effect. Every project, including the politically correct ones and good causes have demotivating aspects (not so different from what might be frustrating in the corporate world) - so I focus on satisfaction gained from the task as such and the people you are directly working with. For example, corporate IT projects might be devoid of meaning and driven by office politics - but directly working with like-minded geeks on meeting that illogical goals could be fun though.
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