A bitmapped image of Edward Shturman

compsigh

"Meet cool people, build cool things." Here's the story of compsigh, the computer science club I founded at the University of San Francisco.

The default path

The default modus operandi for computer science students today is this:

  1. Think — or be pressured into thinking (often by parents) — a job in tech is lucrative; therefore, it's a career worth pursuing.
  2. Crack the coding interview and get the degree.
  3. Get a job working in big tech.
  4. Cash out in 20 years.
  5. Never code again.

This is doable, but I have a couple gripes with the default path.

Firstly, software engineering requires an insane level of dedication & craft. Assuming you don't actually care, you could brute-force your way through it, but that is — in my opinion — a miserable way to live.

Secondly, while it may have been true five years ago that a job in big tech meant greater job security, it's almost certainly no longer the case. It's not "riskier" to go and do your own thing anymore.

Of course, there's nothing wrong with working for a big tech company, even if financial gain is what you're after. The problem is when you don't have any real interest in your field, which, sadly, is the case for a nontrivial amount of students on the default path.

I wanted to take an alternate path. One in which I take ownership as a problem solver, as an engineer. One in which I could meet cool people, and build cool things.

The alternate path

Computer science is the fastest-growing major at the University of San Francisco. It was to my surprise, then, that when I joined USF in 2021, there was no general CS club on campus. There was no culture around doing anything social — let alone learning & building together.

As Matthew Stanciu of Purdue Hackers — an organization I deeply admire — poignantly notes in his essay, Galactic Empire, the majority of collegiate computer science orgs are structured for the default path.

compsigh is for people looking to take the alternate path.

A club for the rest of us

There are two things that capture the essence of compsigh:

  1. A chill Discord server, where members are encouraged to express themselves (the #general channel is a bit unhinged), share interesting artifacts from across the Internet, and hype up each other's work.
  2. High-quality, low-stakes, in-person events. This is where friends & memories are made. Our regular gatherings include:
compsigh night
compsigh night

Our weekly Friday night social. Members play board/card games, hack on projects together, or just chill and do homework.

touch grass: escape room
touch grass: escape room
touch grass: bowling
touch grass: bowling
Impromptu study session
Impromptu study session
study night
study night
compsigh night decorations
compsigh night decorations

Members will bring things like these design books for the ambiance and making the space their own.

Food made by members for compsigh night
Food made by members for compsigh night
A team of members locking in for compsigh cascade, a one-night coding riddle competition
A team of members locking in for compsigh cascade, a one-night coding riddle competition

Check out how it was built in the Workshop!

I don't care much for numbers. We have over 50% of the CS students at USF in our Discord, but not all show up to events. That's ok. I care much more that I've met some of my best friends here, have shipped some of my most meaningful work because of it, and that others can say the same.