Oak Park, Ill.
Computer Science, Graphic Design
Like a lot of Carthage students, Isaac Rothenbaum was initially drawn to the College because of its beautiful campus. He had received a postcard from Carthage the summer before his senior year of high school. He decided to learn more about Carthage simply because of the way the campus looked, and because of ourDivision III swim team.
Isaac arrived at Carthage knowing he wanted to be a graphic design major; he had experience in video game art and knew it was something he enjoyed. However, he didn’t realize that his firstJ-Term class — Build Your Own Robot Army — would help him make the decision to double major.
“We built and programmed a simple robot to complete a maze,” he said. “It was an amazing experience and I walked away with much more than 4 credits. I was so enthralled with what I learned that I soon after declared a second major: computer science.”
Although he was originally frightened by the small size of the Computer Science Department, Isaac has learned to embrace it for its benefits. “When there are only six other people in your class, you learn a lot more. You learn the subject more deeply, and you can ask more questions because you aren’t competing with 30 other raised hands.”
This past summer, Isaac had the opportunity to conduct research with another computer science student, Cassandra Kawell, for Carthage professor Mark Mahoney. Isaac and Cassandra developed a new method of documenting complex pieces of software. “It was a lot of fun,” he said. “I got to stay on campus all summer, and I got paid! I am really happy I applied for it and am really grateful I was selected.”
As a member of the Carthage swim team, Isaac’s favorite and proudest moments usually involve his teammates.
“I am great friends with all my teammates and we are all pretty competitive, so some of my favorite memories are the dumb little competitions we have with one another that always end up to be a hilariously bad idea,” said Isaac. “Examples of this are half-gallon milk chugs, who can eat a bowl of yogurt fastest, highest score on a video game, etc. Little things like that are what make the college experience great.”
“I have had many great experiences and many different classes, and it’s pretty hard to pick a favorite class.”
“I want to create something new.”
How have Carthage faculty had an impact on your life or Carthage career?
“Dr. Mark Mahoney. He is incredibly knowledgeable on the subjects he teaches, he keeps up with what’s happening in the industry and adjusts his classes accordingly, he is easily approachable, and he is hilarious in ways he probably doesn’t even realize.”
“I have had many great experiences and many different classes, and it’s pretty hard to pick a single one. One class I really enjoyed was Computer Organization with Professor Chell. In this class we built a virtual working 16-bit computer from the bottom up. We would construct logic for a small chip, use its logic to create a larger chip, use that chip to make a larger chip, link a bunch of other chips together, then watch the computer execute assembly code we also wrote. The class wasn’t easy and I questioned the purpose for a lot of stuff we did, but to see it all come together in the last few weeks and then realize someone, for lack of a better term, ‘invented’ this only a few decades ago was really an awesome experience.”
“The most logically intensive class I took was Discrete Structures, but I would say the hardest class I took was Art History my freshman year because it was really not for me. I enjoy art, but I didn’t have the brain-power/patience to learn all the different styles and famous pieces of the last millennium.”
Favorite spot on campus
“The cafeteria! A lot of people knock it about how it tastes and this and that, but you get a great variety of food, it’s all you can eat, and it’s only one swipe!”
Biggest surprise so far
“I am surprised when I compare what I do with my free time now to what I used to do with my free time three years ago. I went from YouTube and Facebook to TED and the RSA (an algorithm for public-key cryptography).”
Why should other students consider your major? What advice do you have for them?
“Take a class or two and see if it’s for you. If you decide you enjoy it, then stick with it, even if it gets hard some times. It will be worth it in the end. If you don’t enjoy it, find something you do enjoy because four years is a long time to sit in front of a computer screen doing something you hate.”