Next semester I will be TAing a computer organization/assembly language course. I will be full-fledgedly (co-)teaching the lab. The first lab will take place before the first lecture, so me and the other TA will partly be responsible for preparing the students to not resent this class they're forced to take. At this point, the students have taken an intro class with Python and a class on OO concepts in Java, and they might be taking a language-agnostic algorithms class at the same time. The professor's standard way of motivating the concept on the first day is showing how going through an array column by column is slower than row by row even though they give the same result using the same approach.
Therefore, I have to motivate on two fronts: why is assembly programming (or even C) interesting/relevant, and why is computer organization interesting/relevant. The latter may seem obvious if you're already in the know, but it sure didn't for me before I took this very course.
Here are some of the points that I already intend to include in my opening spiel (everything that starts with a backslash is spurious):
"If you go into data science: the information in this course will explain why certain programs are slow, which is important if you're churning a lot of data.
\You will learn how to write faster programs in general.
You will understand how computers actually work, no magic [I don't have to mention that they won't learn everything].
\This class might make you interested in systems-level programming, even considering a career.
Do you ever feel awed at those other guys with their cool Arduino or Raspberry Pi projects? This class will teach you how to do what they do."
What are some other motivators that I can include?
EDIT: Just to be clear: I have no control over the lab, and definitely none over the lecture. I won't even be present for the professor's lecture. What I have control over is what I explain as I explain the pre-baked labs, which in the first three weeks include an introduction to ssh, C, certain binary algorithms, and pointers. Aside from the ssh, these are supposed to segue everyone into asm.