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Ask the Cougar

Creativity on Tap

Ronak Raithatha, computer science major

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Tappity-tap, tap. Tap, tap, tap. That percussive rhythm, like bursts from a muted machine gun, is music to Ronak Raithatha’s ears. For him, typing is the sound of creation.

It’s a good thing he finds beauty in that racket because Raithatha’s been creating quite a bit of it in the College’s Software Innovations Lab. Just this summer, the precocious computer science major from Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, who started at the College at 16, has done website design for the S.C. Space Grant Office (a partner with NASA) and the College’s new digital media center, collaborated on numerous R&D projects for companies tied to Silicon Valley and the Research Triangle Park and, on the side, built his own mobile app game.

“Programming is really about making something from nothing,” Raithatha explains. “And I like that you write your own stuff from scratch.’”

Describing himself as “easily intrigued and easily bored,” Raithatha discovered his love of computers in RoxAnn Stalvey’s intro computer science course his freshman year. “I got to see how the internal stuff works,” he recalls. “There’s a big difference between knowing how to use a computer and knowing how to program a computer. There was a whole new language to learn.”

Since that intro course, he’s become fluent in several computer languages – Python, Java and C# (to go along with the four languages he speaks – Kiswahili, Gujarati, Hindi and English).

“Because once you know how to speak to a computer,” Raithatha says, “it will do whatever you want it to do. And the possibilities for what you can achieve, what you can create, are endless.”