most people assume i have studied computer science, or something related to computer graphics, computer engineering or some computer-y stuff. it makes sense, as at this moment i’m making my living around computer graphics.
however my education is on electrical engineering (well, it was a masters thing in “telecommuncations”, which as far as i can tell is electrical engineering plus other additional subjects). i didn’t really get to learn anything about pixels there, though. my teachers would talk to me about anthenas, maxwell equations, physics, electronics, signal processing and such things. i learnt to build a computer from silicon (from the actual silicon crystals, i mean), but not programming. writing graphics algorithms, physics simulations, compression techniques, creating procedural content or even writing music are things i learnt by myself, since i got my first computer when i was 14. most other kids owned computer at a much earlier age than 14, i was a late adopter, but i caught up quickly. like most demosceners and kids from the early 90s, i was a self teaching person.
that doesn’t mean my postgrad degree in electrical engineering wasn’t useful to me. quite the opposite. i’m extremely grateful i have a completely different background from most of the people doing computer graphics around me. i like to believe that having a different background can allow you to see things in a slightly different way. since you have to sort of discover things by yourself (and reinvent the wheel, or perhaps produce weird mutations of the wheel), you will probably develop a more naive approach to things. that will probably let you more easily create your own evolutionary branches and experiments and accident, far from the main trunk of research where all other computer graphics researchers are walking. i think diversification in background is an opportunity for a richer variety of solutions than from a more uniformly spread selection of backgrounds? dunno. anyway in more practical regards, having a strong background in maths, physics, optics and image processing from electrical engineering was more than useful for me when working in computer graphics.
so the moral of the story is, and this is the message i keep sending to the people that so often ask me for advice, that if you are planning to leave your engineering, physics, maths, mechanics or whatever non-computer-graphics postgraduate studies just because you think you chose wrong and you believe you don’t need that knowledge, i’d say please step back and think twice before doing it (unless you have to pay for it, of course – hi americans). perhaps not studying computer graphics is not a handicap, but a bullet. from all you are learning you never know what will come handy in the future, how lucky you’ll be by having a different perspective and approach to things. or perhaps i’m wrong and you are right, how can i tell. depending where you live, knowing stuff is free and it’s never a bad thing to do. plus you’ll have more than enough time to do professionally what you like most, if things go right. life is long, no need to rush. it could also be you are right, though, circumstances are always different for every particular case, i don’t know. i’d say, just think it twice before aborting your current degree. you never know.
it feel’s very awkward to me to give advice, i don’t have the authority (nor does have anyone really) to give advice about such important things. still, i get the question often, and i consistently find myself answering something on this lines anyway. so, there is the blog post