BS ('02), MS ('04) electrical engineering
Occupation: Systems engineer, Azure Summit Technology
Residence: Fairfax, VA
Why did you choose to attend the University of Rochester?
My introduction to UR was quite interesting. In high school I was looking primarily at schools with good engineering programs. One summer weekend my father took me to an overnight event at RIT. Before leaving on Sunday we spontaneously decided to check out the University and tour the facilities, as we heard good things from our neighbor, who was in her second year of attendance. I was impressed by the campus atmosphere and had a gut reaction that I should attend.
When and how did you choose your major(s)?
I decided to pursue electrical engineering when I was a junior in high school, since I always had a passion for computers and electronics. I believe I was encouraged to do so due to my early exposure to engineering (tinker toys, erector sets) and computers (8086 computer when I was about five).
What did you do immediately after graduation? How did you decide to take that path?
In my junior year of undergrad (2001) the job market was not particularly rosy following the tech boom bust. After some thought, I decided it would be prudent to pursue a master's degree. I decided to stay at UR to further my education because I really liked the school and electrical engineering department. I also had a great network of friends that decided to stay for advanced degrees as well. After graduate school I found a position in Rome/Syracuse for a small defense contractor. I found my master's degree quite helpful in differentiating me from the work force.
What do you do now and why did you choose this career?
I'm a systems engineer for a small R&D technology firm in the DC metro area. I straddle the hardware/software boundary, often working with embedded hardware and writing software for modeling (Matlab/Python) or application development (Python/C++). It's very fulfilling because I don't perform the same monotonous task every day and working for a small company gives you a lot of flexibility.
What skills, tools, or knowledge from your major have been most useful to you since graduation?
The most useful skill I learned at the university was the ability to perform independent research. I'm often tasked with implementing algorithms for a technology area that I'm not very familiar with or is relatively new. This requires me to study a subject and achieve the task with little input from my manager. It's easy to learn a programming language in college for example, but technology evolves and engineers are required to continually adopt new skills and learn new subject areas all the time. The university helped foster this ability.