Welcome to my blog!
My name is Zachary LeBlanc and I am a senior at the University of Notre Dame. I am majoring in Computer Engineering with a minor in Engineering Corporate Finance. Notre Dame is a long way from home for me, I have lived in Katy, TX (West Houston), for the majority of my life. My parents both work for my hometown school district and I have two siblings. My brother, Nathan, attended LSU and my younger sister, Hannah, is still in high school. I have always loved sports – they were a big part of my life growing up. My brother and I both played baseball competitively throughout our childhood. In high school, I developed a passion for basketball and quit playing baseball to pursue a basketball career. I continue to play basketball all the time as a student at Notre Dame, mostly recreationally.
I was exposed to computer science in high school and had an amazing teacher, Paul Stroud, for three years. It was largely due to this early exposure that I ended up in computer science. I applied to Notre Dame to become a chemical engineer. I quickly realized in the Intro to Engineering course that I had a passion for computing and decided to purse a degree that would be more rewarding for me. I am a big proponent for increasing computer science awareness in lower to intermediate schools. I have always had a passion for teaching myself, and I take as many opportunities as I can to share my knowledge of computer science. Last semester, I mentored a blind student at the Indianapolis School for the Blind and Visually Impaired. We worked the entire semester on a project that involved creating a high altitude balloon that could record GPS data using a Raspberry Pi. I have also spent a lot of time teaching Take Ten, an anti-violence curriculum, at the South Bend Center for the Homeless.
I believe the most pressing issue in computer science is the lack of interest among the youth, specifically girls. I believe that we can diminish the gender gap by increasing exposure to computer science at a younger age. I think this will help spur more interest from girls because kids will be less likely to attribute it to a “guy thing” if everyone has been developing their computer science skills. I would like to discuss the large scale accumulation of data that has become the normal. At what point is the aggregation of so much data wasteful? At what point does the average citizen have access to know what type of data regarding him or her has been recorded?
I made the drive from Houston to South Bend over the past couple of days, and I stumbled upon an interesting podcast. The Radiolab podcast, “Eye in the Sky“, discussed a surveillance technology created by Ross McNutt. He and a team of engineers use small planes and 44-megapixel cameras to “go back in time”. Their technology works by taking aerial snapshots of every city. When an event occurs, say a bomb going off, McNutt’s team can analyze the images and determine who is responsible by stepping back in time through the images. There are obvious benefits – a cartel in Juarez, Mexico, was busted and the perpetrator of a home invasion in Dayton, Ohio, was caught using this technology. However, the thought of an “eye in the sky” is scary to most people. How do we feel about the possibility of someone seeing every move we make? One side of the argument would be that people who have nothing to hide should not be concerned, and society will benefit from exposing the people who do have something to hide. My question is, how far are we willing to let surveillance expand? At the moment, McNutt and his team have set moral limits for their company. It’s important to remember that morality is relative.