Kalin Gochev '09, PhD Student in CIS at University of Pennsylvania
Bio: I graduated with honors in Computer Science and Mathematics from Trinity College in 2009. During my studies at Trinity I was involved in many extracurricular projects in the Computer Science department. I participated in the HFOSS project and in the Student Research Program. After graduating from Trinity, I was accepted as a PhD student in the Computer and Information Science department at University of Pennsylvania. I am currently working on several research projects in the field of robotics. My research at University of Pennsylvania has produced several technical papers, which were published and presented at various robotics conferences.
Why study computing now? Computer science is a vital field in today's world. Software development has become an integral part of many industries and presents many career opportunities.
Dan Gyllstrom '08, PhD Student at University of Massachusetts Amherst
Bio: Daniel Gyllstrom is a PhD Computer Science student at the University of Massachusetts Amherst working with Professor Jim Kurose. He is interested in using computing to provide more efficient, sustainable, and economic delivery and consumption of energy. Towards this goal, he has developed algorithms to place and communicate with sensors -- which measure voltage and current at electrical substations -- to enable real-time monitoring of the electric power grid. Currently, he is working with a utility company to determine how battery storage can reduce stress on the power grid and help customers save money by storing energy when it is cheap and using stored energy from a battery when energy is expensive. The challenge is to predict future energy consumption to determine a schedule for charging and discharging the battery.
He received his M.S. from the University of Massachusetts Amherst under the guidance of Professor Yanlei Diao in 2008. His masters thesis focused on developing techniques to evaluate queries over continuous streams of data. For example, a query of interest might be "notify me when the average price of any stock decreases for 10 successive readings". Before attending UMass, Daniel worked as a software engineer at IBM. Daniel received his BS in Computer Science from Trinity College in 2004.
Why study computing now? Learning computing provides a different way to think about problems. This means algorithmic thinking -- determining a sequence of steps needed to solve a problem given arbitrary inputs -- and logical thinking. These skills are helpful in solving problems across all fields. Furthermore, computing is required for almost everything. Most fields (e.g., Physics, Biology) and businesses need computers, and therefore a grasp of computing enables a deeper understanding of these disciplines. Finally, computing is a relatively young field when compared to Biology, Physics, and the like. This helps make computing fast changing with new innovation and also makes it likely that there are still many great problems in computing that have yet to be solved or perhaps even imagined.
How did Trinity computer science program prepare you for the work you do now? Trinity computer science taught me the foundations of computing -- algorithmic thinking, programming skills, computing theory, statistics, and probability --- that I use every day. The program was rigorous and courses were taught by faculty that take pride in their teaching and care about their students. My year-long senior thesis/project prepared me for the independent work demanded by a PhD research program. In short, the Trinity computer science program provided the building blocks for my current position as a PhD student.
What advice do you have for our current and prospective students? Be an active learner. This means asking questions, questioning assumptions, thinking of alternative answers/approaches to problems, and challenging the status quo. Doing so forces a deep understanding of the topic at hand and helps generate new ideas.
Alec Schmid '06, Manager at Accenture
Bio: Alec graduated in 2006 with a major in Computer Science, and a minor in Chinese. He has been employed at Accenture for the last 5 years, working mostly in software and systems integration in the financial services and insurance industries.
Why study computing now? The workplace has become increasingly fast-paced and requires people to be increasingly technology savvy. People are expected to continually expand their skill sets, and computing helps to provide the confidence and competence to do so throughout their career.
How did Trinity computer science program prepare you for the work you do now? The Computer Science program provided a great skill set to start in my consulting work. It not only helped me learn how to program, but it helped me think about a much broader set of skills. There is a huge market for people who not only have an understanding of software and IT, but also are willing to expand their knowledge of both technology and business. I have worked for the last 5 years, designing, creating, testing, and releasing software. While programming is an important part of the software creation process, people grossly underestimate the management, design, and collaboration skills required to make a good software product, and studying computer science helped me build those skills.
What advice do you have for our current and prospective students? Technology and software is an entrenched and constant factor in our lives today. I find people greatly limit themselves when they don't push themselves to learn new things outside of their comfort zone. A willingness to learn and grow continuously is something that will help not only in your collegiate career, but will pay dividends throughout your career.
Brad Feld '04, Director of Product Management at Advisen Ltd.
Bio: Brad Feld is the Director of Product Management at Advisen Ltd. a technology and data solutions firm that provides insight into underwriting, marketing and purchasing commercial insurance. At Advisen Brad coordinates the prioritization, development, and delivery of commercial messages for Advisen's product suite. Brad has also recently led business analysis and strategy for Advisen's new product offerings, such as business intelligence reporting and service-oriented data offerings. His prior experience includes managing the Capital Markets Consulting Group (CMC) within Thomson Financial's Investment Banking Division, where he worked directly with capital markets desks (ECM & DCM) at bulge bracket investment banks to help them win new business.
Brad holds a Masters of Business Administration in Information & Communication Systems from Fordham Graduate Business School where he was a 2010 Board of Advisors Award winner in IT and Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society inductee. Brad received a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from Trinity in 2004.
Why study computing now? No matter what industry you decide to work in after graduation, the goals of increased efficiency, decreased costs, and creating a desirable customer experience are common focal points and technology is always a major enabling component to achieving positive results in these areas. In any role from finance, management, banking, or even medicine having a deep understanding of computing will allow you to be a voice in these technology related business decisions making you a more valuable asset to your company. Similarly, if you decide to start your own business, computing knowledge can help turn your business ideas into tangible results.
How did Trinity computer science program prepare you for the work you do now? When I tell people I was a CS major in college the first question I get is usually something similar to “what languages do you program in”? Ironically I have never been a programmer or plan to ever write one more line of code again. My CS background however provided a problem solving foundation making me more dynamic in my everyday product management tasks including less technical tasks like project management or marketing. Computer Science classes also helped to mold the analytical side of my brain enabling me to better assess the financial environment and budget needs of the products I am managing. Finally in my current role, I am able to interface with my technical colleagues like database administrators and software architects at a granular level to help turn business requirements into highly functional and customer focused products.
What advice do you have for our current and prospective students? Take advantage of the diverse educational opportunities that a liberal arts school like Trinity provides. If you are looking into a science oriented major like Computer Science make sure you explore areas such as Music, History, and Writing to round out your foundation. If you are deeply involved in the Arts or History, step out of your comfort zone and take some introductory Computer Science, Math, Economics or traditional science classes. You may discover a strength or interest you never knew you had and it can make you appealing to potential employers.
Eric Shafer '93, Senior IT Project Manager for Halliburton
Bio: Trinity, BS '93
Computer Science/Economics High School Teacher 94-96
Certified Flight Instructor 96-98
Sales Support for Embedded Operating System Company 98-2000
MS Computer Science, University of Houston 2001
Project Manager, Shell Oil 2001-2003
Owner, Web Development Company 2004-2011
Project Manager, Halliburton, 2011 to present
Why study computing now? While the liberal arts provide a foundation in the humanities, Computer Science provides a foundation in the way objects in the real world interact. Computer Science blends the abstract and the concreate. It provides a framework for the organization and structure of data, messages, events, communications and interfaces. It is definnig the way we work, the way we relate to one another and forms a foundation for problem solving that can be applied to any field.
How did Trinity computer science program prepare you for the work you do now? The Trinity Computer Science program prepared me with a solid foundation for my career. The fundamentals that I learned meant that despite huge increases in machine capabilites, the rise of the Internet, social computing and more, I am able to understand what even the most cutting edge developers are doing and apply that knowledge in useful ways. The important point was that my Trininty education focused on core concepts and not the latest tech fad.
What advice do you have for our current and prospective students? The question of "how will I use my degree" has become ever more important in these times of economic uncertainty. A degree in Computer Science from Trinity means that you will always have a reliable, marketable skill. However, the balance that Trinity alum have also means that they will not be pigeon holed into a specific career path. You will be able to provide a value proposition to any employer immediately while building experience for leadership roles.