By Tyler Estes, May 2016 CS Graduate
When I first started going to school at Freed-Hardeman University, I had no clue what route I would end up taking. Oh, I had my own idea, but life does not always follow your plans. All of my high school career, I had planned on going to Freed and enrolling as an engineering student. Of course, Freed doesn’t have a full engineering program, but they do offer a 2-year pre-engineering program. I went through my freshman year knowing that in another year or two I would have to leave FHU and finish my degree elsewhere.
That’s where my plans started to change. Little did I know just how great of an impact Freed-Hardeman would have on my life. After my freshman year was over, I didn’t want to leave. I was so intent on staying at Freed longer, I reconsidered my plans to become an engineer and started to think about other similar majors that FHU offered. In considering alternative majors the summer after my freshman year, I thought I would take a look at computer science (CS).
I knew I needed to take a couple of computer programming courses if I continued in engineering, so I decided it wouldn’t hurt to expose myself to programming during the summer to see if I liked it enough to switch majors. I knew iTunes U (the education component of iTunes) offered free online courses, so I looked up some computer programming courses to get a taste of what CS would be like. When I did this, I was shocked, yet happily surprised, to see Freed-Hardeman University had not one, but two computer science courses listed in iTunes U top Engineering courses. FHU was listed right beside other prestigious schools such as Stanford, MIT, and Harvard! That began my first steps toward becoming a computer science graduate from FHU.
I was not disappointed in the least by my experiences in the computer science courses offered at Freed-Hardeman. I was privileged to learn from three excellent professors during my computer science career at FHU: Steve Browning, Kenan Casey, and Michael Plyler. These professors were not just intelligent and helpful teachers. They were also mentors who truly cared about my individual success as a software developer. Each of these professors helped shape me to be the developer I am today. Some people may think that a small, private school is not the best place to get a competitive education in today’s world. I would disagree. It is because I was blessed to be in smaller classes that my professors could personally invest in me. I was given many opportunities to work one-on-one with my professors to fully understand topics I was struggling with and to receive additional support diving into topics that intrigued me. Let me give you some examples about what I mean.
Apple Watch App
One of the courses I enjoyed the most was Mobile Application Development, CIS 388. During this course, each student was required to design and develop an original app for iOS. I struggled to come up with an idea that truly inspired me. At one point, Dr. Kenan Casey invited me into his office to discuss app ideas. I threw out a few that I had been toying with but quickly dismissed them as too simple or too boring. Then Dr. Casey, knowing me well enough to know that I loved tennis, became inspired and suggested an app that exactly aligned with my passion for tennis. What if I developed an app for Apple Watch that monitored a swing and rated it? I was hooked! I loved the idea; it was challenging; it was something I was passionate about, and it was cutting edge. Unfortunately, I didn’t own an Apple Watch, but FHU had just purchased two Apple Watches just for student development projects like this. For the rest of the semester, I was allowed to use one of the department’s watches in order to work on my tennis app for watchOS. Thanks to the help from Dr. Casey and the resources available from FHU, I was able to learn how to program for watchOS and developed my first Apple Watch app, SwingPro.
Campus Directory Web App
In addition to working on that app, I was also able to work with my fellow computer science majors as well as two faculty members to develop two web applications for the university. The first was a web directory of all of the students, faculty, and staff at FHU. Michael Plyler led this project, and with the hard work and dedication of the senior CS majors in Dr. Casey’s capstone CS course, CIS 491, we designed and developed an amazing web application in only one short semester using some of the newest methodologies and frameworks, such as Agile, ASP.NET WebAPI, and AngularJS.
Social Club Web App
The second web application I was privileged to work on was a social club app for the students of Freed-Hardeman. Steve Browning headed this project up as part of Software Engineering 2, CIS 369. Jesse Lloyd and I were the developers for this project. Throughout the experience, I learned important lessons about software engineering. Jesse and I, spent countless hours in Mr. Browning’s office planning and developing this app while keeping in mind the concerns of the apps’ users, FHU students.
These are only a few of the highlight experiences I was blessed to have during my time at Freed. I could go on about the two internships I took part in during my time at school or about the individual care I received from my professors and peers. I could spend hours going on about the amazing academic, social, and spiritual experiences I had at FHU.
If you want to go to a school to become a software developer, then go to Freed-Hardeman University. I was blessed to get an amazing job straight out of college. I know of several other computer science graduates who also started working immediately after graduating.
If you want to go to a school that will help you reach your potential and follow your passions, then go to Freed-Hardeman University. I was blessed to be involved with an amazing social club - Go Chi Beta Chi! - and even to put my programming skills to use by developing an iOS app for my club which I will shamelessly put in a plug for here. Check it out!
If you want to go to a school where you will make friends that will last a lifetime, then go to Freed-Hardeman University.
If you want to go to a school where you will be surrounded by Christians who love you and care for you, then go to Freed-Hardeman University.
I learned a lot academically at FHU. I learned even more about life, friendships, and God. Go to Freed-Hardeman if you can. It really is a place that teaches how to live and how to make a living.