Our Elevator Speech

Our students often hear advice about how to find opportunities. “You never know whom might meet and who might be able to help you,” teachers and parents and people in the college’s career office tell them. “Be ready to explain your ambitions clearly and concisely.”

Those of us who teach and study computer science might also prepare elevator speeches. In our case, this might not be for the purpose of finding new employment for ourselves, but instead for the purpose of helping our colleagues, students, and neighbors understand what we do. Maybe our pitch will lead some of these people to take a greater interest in computer science?

What are some of the most important ideas in computer science? Whose character and work represents computer science especially well? Where is the greatest promise in our field? Where should we be most cautious or skeptical? How might technology and the insights that lead to technological innovation lead to new understandings of what it means to be human?

If we could have only a day or two with a student and knew that the student would never again enter a computer science classroom, what would we share with that student?