In this instructor spotlight, we ask Hongbiao Zeng, Ph.D, who is a Professor at Fort Hays State University in the Department of Computer Science about his journey from Mathematics to Computer Science, and what the future looks like for students following this path.
We asked Dr. Zeng about his background and education and his decision to go into Computer Science. He shared the following:
“I have my Ph.D degree in Applied Mathematics. When I was looking for a job at Fort Hays State University, the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science needed a Computer Science faculty. I believed that Computer Science is strongly related. A strong math background gives a big advantage on Computer Science study. So I accepted the challenge and became a Computer Science faculty.”
We wanted to know more about his background as an instructor and what other experience does he have in this field?
“I have always been an instructor. However, I passed the exam to become a Certified Java Programmer. I wrote couple applications for community.”
We wanted to know what tips Dr. Zeng had for students taking classes online so they can be successful and complete their degree, he shared the following tips:
- Strong math background: If student feels he/she is weak in Math, then the student should take a summer or winter break and improve his/her math skills. I strongly suggest students to take and pass College Algebra and Calculus in their Freshman year.
- Always stay on schedule: Even though online classes may not have regular meeting time, don’t get behind as there are deadlines need to met.
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Be sure use the school e-mail to communicate with your instructor/advisor.
We wanted to know who is the ideal student for this major? What personality traits (i.e. outgoing, analytical, etc…) have you seen them have in common? Dr. Zeng provided the following traits:
- Love to solve problems using analytical skills
- Is comfortable working as a team
- Has self-discipline
What career options would you have with a bachelors degree in Computer Science?
1. Software Applications Developer
2. Computer System Analyst
3. Web Developer
4. Computer Programmer
5. Database Administrator
6. Software Quality Assurance Tester
7. Software System Developer
8. Business Intelligence Analyst
9. Networking Administrator
We asked about demand for jobs in this field and about industry growth, and Dr. Zeng shared:
“The demand is high. Nowadays, everything depends on software. Cell phone, Car, TV, Medical Instruments, Airplanes, all most everything is controlled by software.
The IT industry is always growing.”
We wanted to get an insider’s view of how to succeed in this field, what growth paths are available and Dr. Zeng told us:
“As I mentioned before, students should first have a strong math background. Also, students will need to practice programming – a lot. At FHSU, we provide strong support on campus and online for our students. Practice projects are designed and assigned in many courses, such as Computer Science I and II, Java Programming, System Architecture, Operating System, Data Structure and Algorithm Design, Programming Language, and Software Engineering. Through these projects, students will get hands on practice on programming.”
After graduation, we asked where the majority of jobs in this field located? Dr. Zeng shared the following:
“Most jobs will be located on the East or West coast. However, there are also many jobs all over United States. For instance, Cerner in Kansas City, MO, and Texas Instruments in Dallas, TX, Koch in Wichita, KS, have hired many of our students.”
Yes, we asked, what the average salary for a new graduate who has a degree in Computer Science can earn and Dr. Zeng shared:
“Based on online data, the average salary for new graduates of CS is $71,500 (July 2015).”
We then asked how do you gain “employable” experience for this industry? What can you do as a student to have a resume that is of interest to a prospective employer? Dr. Zeng told us:
“That students should try to find a major-related internship during their college life. During the internship, the students should try to finish part or all of a project independently or with a team. If the student cannot find a job, then the student should do a self-project and publish this project on line to show their expertise and skills. For instance, if a student can build a website that plays a student self-designed game, then the student shall be more competitive for the job market.”
Finally, we asked Dr. Zeng if he would choose this field again? Why? What do you like about it?
“Yes. Programming is a challenge. However, it is also fun.”
We want to thank Hongbiao Zeng, Ph.D, Professor at Fort Hays State University, for his time highlighting his education and work in the Computer Science department helping students with their coursework and future.
You can find Dr. Hongbiao Zeng, Professor, Department of Computer Science, at Fort Hays State University and find out more about completing your degree at FSHU here on our site https://edukan.org/about-edukan/edukan-fort-hays-state-university/.
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