How does YouTube find related videos? How does a Google search find results in less than half a second? How does a music app find similar artists?
Jessie Chavez, a Google software engineer in the company's Chicago office, discussed questions like those on May 16 during a presentation at Washington Middle School called "You Can Do Computer Science." Coordinated by Google and the STEM Partnership School at Aurora University, the event exposed more than 160 local eighth-grade students at three schools to the benefits of careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
Chavez, a Chicago native born to immigrant Hispanic parents, told students that computer science offers them the opportunity to solve some of the world's most crucial problems - such as environmental sustainability, poverty, hunger and homeland security. Additionally, five of the top 10 fastest-growing jobs and two out of the top three highest-paying careers will be in computing-related fields in the near future, he said.
Computer science has applications in a wide variety of fields, including gaming, sports, fashion, medicine and music, Chavez said.
"The message we're trying to send is that computer scientists come in all shapes and sizes," he said. "We want to move past the Hollywood image that says you have to be a computer nerd to do this."
The Google presentation at Washington Middle School extends the technology giant's relationship with the proposed STEM Partnership School at Aurora University. Last month, the company invited Aurora students to the grand opening of the Google Art Project at the Art Institute of Chicago.