CCA Previews ’23: Computer Science Society

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By Evan Lim Hong Jun (Chairperson)

If you’ve seen TV shows like Mr Robot or Silicon Valley, you may have certain impressions of the archetypal coder: the socially reclusive, unkempt, and idiosyncratic computer genius who casually spits out several lines of indecipherable code and wills the computer into submission. Maybe you think it is magic. They seem like literal computer wizards. Well, at the Computer Science Society (CSS), we… 

Haha, who am I kidding? We don’t know how most of it works either. 

Programming isn’t like the movies—the truth is that no one is born with an innate talent for coding. Most of it is clever googling, reading online tutorials, and patching different solutions together until something works.

A relevant meme.

At CSS, we are home both to experienced veterans and complete beginners. For those with zero prior experience in programming, fret not! At the start of the year, we offer a short foundational course in Python to bring you up to speed.

In 2023, CSS will be split into four course options run by student trainers.

In our data science course, you can learn the fundamentals of machine learning, and practise building models in computer vision and natural language processing. There will also be challenges where you have to work in teams to squeeze every percentage point of model performance possible and be exposed to cutting-edge technologies in the process.

In our web development course, you will learn HTML, CSS, and Javascript. In the past, we’ve collaborated with other CCAs to build and improve their websites. You can look forward to these opportunities to put your skills to practice. Alternatively, if you have an idea of your own, our program lets you use CCA time and leverage our resources to work on your project!

Website built by CSS member in the Web Development course.

In our cybersecurity course, we teach cryptography, web penetration, binary exploitation and more. The most fun part is getting to use these skills in virtual environments called ‘Capture The Flag’ (CTFs), where you have to work in teams to break into online systems, reverse engineer code, and solve puzzles. (Yes, it is gamified, legal hacking!)

In our competitive programming course (yes, this is a real thing), you can learn data structures and algorithms to solve complex computational problems. Not only is it fun and challenging, it will also help you ace any coding interview and do well in competitions like Google Code Jam or the Meta Hacker Cup.

Throughout the year, CSS members have countless opportunities to put their skills to the test by participating in national competitions. In hackathons like NUS Hack&Roll or iNTUition, you can ‘hack’ together a prototype app in 24 hours. CTFs like SMU Whitehacks, Cyberthon or the Cyber Defenders Discovery Camp let you race other teams to hack (the real one) into mock environments. Finally, some members compete in the prestigious National Olympiad in Informatics (NOI).

However, CSS is not just about learning — we’re a CCA, not H2 computing! Although computer science can sometimes be a solitary affair, we do our best to make CSS a place where you can make memories and form friendships.

In all of our courses, you will have opportunities to collaborate with and learn from other members. We also have semi-regular bonding sessions, where we play games that are sometimes computer-themed and many times not. You can also look forward to our club camp and possible learning journeys outside regular CCA hours!

Bonding activity where teams have to solve computing challenges.

Interested? CSS is held weekly on Wednesdays from 8.45am to 11.15am. 

At first glance, programming can seem impenetrable and arcane. Indeed, you will probably encounter many pieces of code that seem to work like complete black magic. Nonetheless, we believe that anyone can learn to code. CSS welcomes individuals of all skill levels, regardless of your prior experience in coding—all you need is a passion to learn.

We can’t guarantee that CSS will instantly turn you into a spell-slinging computing wizard. But if you are willing to give it a shot, CSS will help you embark on this journey of magic and discovery.

Hope to see you soon!

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