Originally from Perry Hall, Maryland, Alec is a Junior pursuing a major in Computer Engineering and a minor in Mathmatics. When he's not studying, Alec likes to watch the Ravens, and put on his weekly radio show on WMBC called The Prog Rock Block.
When did you know that you wanted to study Computer Engineering?
During my senior year of high school, I transitioned from thinking I wanted to be an eye doctor to finally landing on my true passion of Computer Engineering. I always wanted to help people, and I thought the best way to do that was to be a doctor. Everyone mentioned my love for technology when making suggestions, but at first, I wanted to separate my passion for technology from my professional life. I think what really made me decide to do Computer Engineering was the iPad. I thought to myself, I would love to make something like that. Not only does it help people, but also it is pretty freaking cool.
What area of Computer Engineering are you most interested in?
I’m most interested in mobile computing. I believe mobile computers are definitely the future and where a bulk of the innovation is happening. The phone on my lap right now (iPhone 4S) is way more powerful than my computer from just six years ago. These devices are becoming so powerful at such a tremendous rate, and their utility in our lives is ever increasing.
Are you part of any labs, clubs or organizations on campus?
I am working in Dr. Kane’s Multitouch Table Research Lab. I am also a Center for Women in Technology (CWIT) Scholar and on our student board. For fun, I am a DJ on WMBC and also the club’s Treasurer. You can tune into The Prog Rock Block every Thursday from 5-6 or subscribe on iTunes! Had to put in that shameless plug.
Are you involved in any research projects?
Yes, I am Dr. Kane’s Multitouch Table Research Lab. Things are progressing nicely, and hopefully, our table with be completed soon! I am excited for the direction we take it next.
Have you had any internships?
This summer I will be interning with SAIC. It’s my first internship, and I am excited to get some hands on experience in my field.
What are your plans after graduation?
My current game plan is to continue pursing my undergraduate degree, and enroll in the BS/MS program. If I get a great job offer when nearing graduation, I will take it and enter the work force. If not, I will finish my Master’s.
What is your dream job?
Most people who know me know that I would do anything to work for Apple in their Hardware Engineering department. I love the work they do and would love to be a part of it. Visiting the Apple Campus in Cupertino as a part of my Campus Rep Training was such an incredible experience for me and all I could do was think, “man, I would do anything to work here.”
On UMBC and CSEE…
Why did you choose UMBC?
I chose UMBC because I really felt at home here. The environment was welcoming, and I knew it was somewhere I could see myself succeeding because I could create good relationships with teachers. My first impression was “I really like it here.” Although it may not have initially shown the grandeur of other universities I visited, I knew at once this was one of my favorite universities.
What do you like about campus life?
I have lived on campus the last two years in Erickson on the CWIT Living Learning Community (LLC). I am fortunate enough to be a CWIT Scholar, which means I live on the CWIT floor in Erickson. I loved being grouped with not only a lot of like-minded individuals, but also with a bunch of people who were in the same classes as me. This allows me to study with people in my class, which was way more fun and helpful than studying on my own. I know that might sound lame, but we had a lot of fun times studying together.
What was your first Computer Engineering course?
My first technology class was AP Computer Science during my senior year of high school. This was my first experience with programming, and I really enjoyed it and excelled at it. That course in combination with the technology developments around me influenced me to go into the field myself. My first Computer Engineering course at UMBC was CMPE 212 with Professor Younis, and it definitely solidified that Computer Engineering was the right major for me. I learned so much about digital design, and I cannot wait for next semester’s course work.
What was your favorite Computer Engineering course?
My favorite CMPE course was CMPE 212, but it is also the only CMPE course I have taken, which is not to discredit how much I enjoyed it. My favorite Computer Science course was CMSC 341: Data Structures. It was the most challenging, and it had the most interesting projects. Also, Professor Oates made it an absolute blast with his great examples and engaging lectures.
What do you like about the Computer Science and Electrical Engineering (CSEE) Department?
I like how the CSEE department cares a great amount about you and your goals. I have sat down with many professors who were very nice and asked me about my interests. They helped guide me with class selection to reach my goals. They also helped me make a plan so I could complete all the required coursework in four years.
How would you describe the professors in the department?
All of the professors I have encountered have been very intelligent and knowledgeable in their field and willing to help their students understand concepts in class. They are very accessible and want their students to succeed.
What advice would you give to incoming students?
Follow your heart, and figure out what your passion is and then pursue it. Working on your passion doesn’t feel like work at all, and that is where you will really excel.