Carter Cleveland ’09
Founder of Art.sy
I studied computer science as an engineer at Princeton because I found programming to be incredibly addictive. I grew up obsessed with math and physics, and was originally a physics major. Programming gave me the pleasure of working with challenging and abstract problems, but in a far more creative context where I could see the results of my work appear before my eyes. In a way, computer science is like math but with a far richer language for expressing problems and solutions.
I will never forget one homework assignment in particular. Programming a 2-D model of the solar system and watching it come to life on my computer screen was an amazing moment, and that was just weeks into my first computer science course. I remember throwing a black hole into my solar system and watching everything fly into chaos.
I was always interested in other subjects such as dance and art history, and took many of those courses. At one point I was tempted to switch into art history to escape the huge engineering workload. But passions such as art history are far easier to pursue in life by constantly reading books, going to museums, and attending lectures. Computer science is impossible to engage with on a casual basis. It requires a massive and highly focused investment of time and energy, ideally with the world’s best teachers guiding you at the same time.
Freedom to follow dreams
I founded a company called Art.sy. It’s similar to Pandora, but for fine art. Using artificial intelligence technology, our goal is to get as many people as possible educated, excited, and passionate about fine art. We are very early stage, but recently raised money from Eric Schmidt (who is Class of ’76 and was then CEO of Google), Jack Dorsey (founder of Twitter and Square), and several other prominent investors. We are also advised, among others, by Joe Kennedy (CEO of Pandora and Class of ’81). It’s worth noting that both Eric Schmidt and Joe Kennedy earned computer science degrees from Princeton.
Computer science gives you the ultimate freedom to pursue your dreams. Computer science majors are in such high demand that you will never have to worry about making money again. And this demand is increasing exponentially. In fact, I believe that programming—like touch-typing—will become a mandatory skill taught to all students in the future. More importantly, computer science is the ideal major if you want to start your own company.
Computer science also teaches you how to think about the world and understand it on a very abstract level. Many everyday issues and problems can be abstracted into beautiful computer science-related paradigms.
But at the end of the day, it is about doing what you love. And because of the increasingly ubiquitous relevance of information technology, no matter where your heart leads you, your computer science skills will allow you to follow it.