Programmed for success
Toben is a true renaissance man. Sure, he’s a computer science major and has a work-study job in the computing services department. But he also plays the French horn, sings bass and is involved in theatre as an actor, lighting technician and costumer. After graduating from Northwestern, he plans to go to graduate school for a master’s degree in game development.
Making it compute
Ever since I was 5 years old, I’ve loved playing video games. It was only natural that—just like someone who loves music learns to compose—I learned the process of making video games. My computer science major is giving me the skills and know-how to become a world-class programmer. Northwestern sent students to the International Collegiate Programming Contest two years in a row. It’s my dream to go before I graduate.
In computer science, we’re given large, complex concepts that can be hard to wrap your mind around. A big part of computer science is just learning to understand things. As a result, now when I’m confronted with difficult questions about my faith, I find it easier than it was before to understand and think through those issues.
Programming is a practical skill, and as such, it’s one that is best learned by doing. My classes have given me plenty of projects to work on that give me experience writing programs. The annual Collegiate Programming Contest also gives me opportunities to sharpen my skills and my programming abilities. When I get out into the career world, those experiences will be of endless value to me.
Because my computer science professors know me personally, they can give me assignments and ask questions that they know will challenge me. They also supported my idea of setting up a distributed computer system in the computer labs so our chemistry and physics professors can take advantage of multiple computers’ processing power to conduct research. That was the biggest project I’ve done here, and I learned a ton about networking, databases, multi-threading and servers. I also learned how much determination and dedication it takes to set up a functional system and then maintain it.
As a Northwestern student, I’ve gone with the choir to the Czech Republic, Austria and Poland. I’ve traveled to Japan and seen Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka and Hiroshima. I got to hold a human brain while learning about neurology. I’ve climbed catwalks 26 feet in the air to hang theatre lights (while overcoming my fear of heights!). I’ve read countless books, spent countless hours in rehearsals, and been endlessly challenged in my faith—and become a stronger Christian because of it. While I’m a full-time student and take my classes seriously, I’ve learned so much from my experiences outside the classroom too.
Networks and servers
I appreciate Northwestern’s size and sense of community. I know all the guys who live in my dorm by name, and we sit together at every meal like a big family. I can’t walk anywhere without recognizing someone or seeing a friend.