Zane Fadul ’21 Champions Computer Science for Everyone

Zane Fadul at graduation

At NYU, students from across the world have the opportunity to choose and change their own path. You can take calculus and chemistry throughout high school, and then flourish as an artist. You can grow up in a town of 10,000 people, and then thrive in the crowds of New York City. But while new experiences can be wonderful, they can also be intimidating. That’s why Zane Fadul, NYU Shanghai ’21, made it his mission to step outside his comfort zone from day one—and to encourage others to do the same. As an aspiring Film major who’d never left the US, he enrolled at NYU Shanghai and majored in computer science. There, he founded Splice, a campus club focused on making computer science accessible and approachable for everyone.

Zane in the 2018 Reality Show

From Silver Screen to Computer Screen

Prior to coming to NYU Shanghai, Zane hoped to attend Tisch School of the Arts as a Film major. The summer before his senior year, however, he taught himself C, a popular programming language. While it was a struggle at times, he persevered—and found a new passion. As a result, he pivoted his major to computer science (CS). “Honestly, when I came to NYU, I still felt like I wasn’t a great CS student. So, during class, I sometimes felt intimidated or afraid to ask a question,” he admits. He noticed that other students also found the field daunting, so he took it upon himself to change that. “If everyone was a CS genius, we wouldn’t need to take classes! I realized there was a need to facilitate an open space for people to learn and grow without feeling judged.”

Zane with his father in Shanghai

Splice Up Your Life

Inspired by his own journey, Zane founded Splice, a club with the message that computer science is for all backgrounds and all skill levels. “At NYU Shanghai, we’re encouraged to be pioneers,” he explains. From history lessons to hackathons, the club offers something for everyone. In addition to making their coding workshops accessible to both English and Chinese speakers, Splice offers concurrent workshops for different skill levels. So if a workshop is too difficult, members can just pop over to a less advanced class. “If I were starting a totally different club, the message would still be the same: don’t feel embarrassed and don’t think you’re not smart enough. We’re all in this together,” Zane concludes.

Wired for Success

Zane and his peers throwing their graduation caps in the air

Today, Zane continues to meet with Splice’s e-board while pursuing his dream career in game design. For the past few months, he’s been interning with Professor Christian Grewell, who taught One Up, a class on game history and development. Alongside other students, they’re designing a game on academic integrity for first-year students. So, what’s Zane’s advice for aspiring computer scientists at NYU? “Coming into NYU, you’ll have to work hard. But if you don’t give up, I can guarantee that you’re going to push past the challenges and emerge 10 times stronger.” He pauses and adds, “And if you don’t see what you like being done, start something yourself.”