Hands-on learning is essential for STEM majors

I am a computer science student in my first year, but I have already realized how important it is to gain some hands-on experience outside the class. After taking my introduction to computer science classes and getting good grades in both CS210 and CS211, I still feel very unprepared to accomplish a personal project in this industry, such as an app or a computer game that can be useful in the daily life.

A piece of advice I want to share with those who are pursuing their STEM dreams is to find opportunities outside the classroom. The knowledge people learn from their classes is great, but I feel it is more important to be able to apply that knowledge to some projects that they want to work on and feel passionate about.

I went to the recent Global Game Jam hosted on BC campus in January, and that experience opened my eyes as a STEM major.

It was so fascinating to see what other people made during the game jam, and I realized how little experience I had beyond the classroom. Luckily, because I had taken some Android development classes online and built a few Android apps, I was able to finish a functional Android dating simulator game.

I feel really fortunate to have participated in the Global Game Jam and emerged richer in knowledge. I finally realized how important it is to have some hands-on experience after hearing it multiple times from many other people. Therefore, I urge all STEM majors to find opportunities outside your classes to gain some valuable hands-on experience.

As I have discussed earlier in this article, hands-on experience teaches you things that you may not gain in a traditional classroom, but is very important in the industry you want to work in.

Industries value experience. Employers look for people who can contribute to their company. There are many people who graduate from college with a degree in STEM, but employers prefer those who have some projects under their belt.

Another reason to gain hands-on experience is that you will find it quite rewarding. It’s inspiring to see a finished project that you contributed to. For me, every time I see someone’s project or build my own, I feel recharged and fascinated. I feel more passionate about what I do.

There are endless reasons that hands-on experience is essential in STEM, but I want to highlight some ways you can find STEM opportunities here on campus. The RISE Institute located in B237 is a valuable resource to help students get started on some projects or project ideas in STEM fields. I encourage all STEM students to visit RISE Learning Institute, and get some valuable hands-on experience outside your classroom.