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We asked several graduates to tell us about their experiences in the Computer Science Department. Click on an individual, or scroll down to see all of the responses.

Name: Anita (VanEngen) Bateman
Year of Graduation: 1998
Employer: IBM
Title: Senior IT Architect

What do you do during a typical workday?

In November 2007, I moved from working with our business partner infrastructure in IBM Global Services and am now working in IBM's Systems and Technology Group - working on new exciting multicore technology. I work with IBM's clients and business partners to enable their technology using the Cell Broadband Engine processor, a technology jointly developed by IBM, Sony and Toshiba. I also work closely with our Cell software and hardware development teams, and across our Cell industry solution teams, to drive strategy, create architectures and collaborate on effective solutions. I then work with my management and project management team to ensure current project deliverables are completed as requested and on schedule and we are correctly reporting status and issues to the executive management team.

What do you find interesting about your current position?

I get to be involved in cutting-edge solutions - working with IBM teams - and directly with clients and business partners to enable them with new technology. This technology helps them solve problems faster and solve new problems they could not address previosly.

What do you find to be enjoyable about your current position?

Working with different and talented IBM employees and customers around the world. Keeping up with new technology and industry advances.

How does what you do impact others?

I get to guide the solution teams to help them understand how IT architecture discipline applies to their projects. I get to help our management understand the status of our projects and initiatives. I get to help our clients and business partners by collaborating with them to complete their project goals.

What education have you pursued since Hope?

I completed a Master of Sciences degree in Computer Sciences from the University of Texas at Austin in 2002. This was done with a work-study program that IBM sponsored -- full time work and part time study. I have completed many internal IBM education courses. I have received Sun Programmer Java Certification. I completed IBM IT Architect Certification (2007) and am recognized by the Open Group as a Master Certified IT Architect. I also have been trained within IBM to teach an IBM course on Architecting for Performance, which I teach about once a year.

What positions did you have prior to your current one?

In college, I was a programming intern at Prince Corp, in Holland, Michigan - later bought by Johnson Controls (JCI).- In college, I also participated in the NSF-REU program for computer science summer research at Hope.- I joined IBM out of college - first as a programmer. After a few years, I took over the programming lead position on one application. Then later, I was a team lead for several applications. I have been working as an IT Architect now for the past 4 years (2003-2007).

How did your experience in the Computer Science Department at Hope prepare you for your present position?

My Computer Science education at Hope gave me the broad base to be able to take on any challenge I have encountered at IBM -- both technically and with my non-technical skills (communication, writing, relationship-building, teamwork). My experience in the summer research program also gave me an appreciation for the academic side of our field and helped me with the background necessary to pursue my Master's degree. I am now working with many peers in IBM Research and my research experience has come in very useful to be able to work closely with them.

How did your overall experience at Hope College prepare you for your present position and for life?

My experience at Hope gave me the broad liberal arts education and the specific major education that I needed to get me where I am. It is easy to forget all the non-technical education we get at Hope, but that is so important when you get out into the real world. Without that, it is hard to be distinguished from any other engineer.

What advice would you like to give to current computer science students at Hope College?

  1. Get as much experience as you can of different types -- industry, research, team vs. individual environments, etc. This will prepare you the best for life after Hope.
  2. Take advantage of your time at Hope to pick your professor's brains. They are top-notch and you will seldom find experts with more time available to you.
  3. Have a life ... you must learn to have a life separate from your field or you will burn out in no time at all. Enjoy the events and activities at Hope - they are there for you. Develop hobbies that give you a distraction. This is very important -- there is always more work at the end of the day ... you have to learn to set personal limits.
  4. Make connections with people -- classmates, professors, bosses, people you work with -- you never know when one of those connections will be able to help you -- or you to help them.

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Image of David Boundy Name: David Boundy
Year of Graduation: 1979
Employer: Cantor Fitzgerald
Title:Vice President, Assistant General Counsel Intellectual Property

What do you do during a typical workday?

Advise clients on how to avoid infringing patents of others, or how to exploit their own intellectual property. Lots of research - determine a fine point of law, or what the state of the art was before filing of a patent application, or what patents a competitor or acquisition target might own. I do some litigation - briefs to courts on infringement or validity, depositions of witnesses, occasional court arguments. My main activity is obtaining patents for inventors - interview the inventor, prepare a patent application, argue with the Patent Office to get a patent issued.

What do you find interesting about your current position?

Just about everything! I haven't been bored in years. I’m one of the few attorneys that is actively obtaining patents on financial structures (real estate leases, insurance structures, hedge fund capitalization structures, etc.) I work at the cutting edge of the patent law.

What do you find to be enjoyable about your current position?

The intellectual challenges. Creating value for a client. Beating the other side.

How does what you do impact others?

This week I'm advising a client on product design for product that could be selling many hundreds of millions of dollars in a few years. If I do my job well, the business will be profitable, and no pesky patentees will interfere. I help small companies get big, protected from having their markets eaten up by big competitors. I enjoy teaching younger lawyers.

What education have you pursued since Hope?

M.S. Computer and Communications Science, U. Michigan (1983); Non-degree graduate studies, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (late 1980's); J.D. Columbia University School of Law (1997).  Patent lawyers are always learning about new fields - semiconductor device physics, electronic trading systems (NASDAQ, etc.), bagless vacuum cleaners, particle board floor panels, plastic esterification, gasoline refining...

What positions did you have prior to your current one?

As a computer engineer, I worked for several computer companies in the Boston suburbs during the ""Massachusetts Miracle"" days of the 1980's and early 1990's, including Apollo Computer and H-P. As a patent attorney, I've worked for several law firms in Boston and New York, including Shearman & Sterling and Willkie Farr & Gallagher.

How did your experience in the Computer Science Department at Hope prepare you for your present position?

Learning how to learn. Learning how to collect and integrate a lot of ideas into an organized body so that useful conclusions can be drawn.

How did your overall experience at Hope College prepare you for your present position and for life?

Because the Computer Science department cooperated closely with the mathematics and physics departments, I ended up taking a lot of those courses as well. I use the mathematical skills regularly - in any field, and especially law, it's incredibly valuable to be able to translate the real world into the language of mathematics, do my experiments on the equations or mathematical model, and then translate the mathematics back into a prediction about the future of the real world. It's valuable to be able to quantify the level of confidence I can place in that prediction.

What advice would you like to give to current computer science students at Hope College?

Mathematics. Mathematics. Mathematics. Physics or chemistry. Take all the math you can stand. A good programmer must have a rigorous view of sets, proofs of logical propositions, and other mathematical concepts - if you don't treat your programs like formal proofs with well-understood mathematical properties, they won't work. It's crucial to have a good grounding in one of the natural sciences as well, because most programs are about something described by one of the sciences.


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Robert Brink
Name: Robert Brink
Year of Graduation - 1988
Employer - Inergy Automotive Systems
Title - European IT Manager

 

What do you do during a typical workday?

My job involves managing all IT topics related to IT infrastructure and user support, Supply Chain Management, Manufacturing Execution Systems, Product Development and CAD and ERP systems in Europe and South Africa for an international Tier 1 automotive supplier. The IT department is structured into central and regional teams with the central teams specializing in specific areas to define corporate IT standards, and the regional teams tasked with the deployment and support of these systems within their respective regions. The regional teams are also tasked to work closely with the business customers in their regions to be sure that IT is sensitive and responsive to the business needs which may be particular to my region. 

On any given day, I may be working from my regional base in Compiegne, France (about 70km/45 miles north of Paris) or, less frequently, at the company headquarters in Paris.  On other days I travel to our other regional site in Laval, France (250 km/150 miles west of Paris) or any one of our sites in Europe outside of France.  Although English is the official language in the company, French is  my daily working language.  I manage a team of 10 IT specialists located at different sites within France and an additional 10 IT specialists located in European countries outside of France.  My daily work involves managing infrastructure projects in new locations to support the business as it moves into the developing countries of Eastern Europe, insuring the continuity of service for our existing sites in Europe, developing the European IT budget, leading new initiatives to support manufacturing operations and supply chain management and managing and reinforcing my organization.

What do you find interesting about your current position?

The advantage of my position is that I am exposed to many aspects of international manufacturing, logistics and supply chain in the first tier of the automotive supply chain.  There is a great deal of variety in the daily work and no day is the same as any other. With such a broad range of topics to address, the position is very intellectually challenging. A high level understanding of the business and business strategy is necessary as well as an ability to get into details. Within my company, the IT department is working to transform itself from a support organization into a respected IT consulting resource. I find this transformation intellectually stimulating and in line with where I want to go with my career

What do you find to be enjoyable about your current position?

My work is enjoyable for some of the same reasons it is interesting, namely, the diversity and scope of my activities. I enjoy an intellectual challenge. My work also allows me to travel occasionally and I have now visited most of the European countries, which to some extent has allowed me to satisfy my curiosity. I enjoy working with the large breadth of cultures in all the European countries which I support.

How does what you do impact others?

A recent experience provides a good example.  In the summer of 2008 I travelled with members of my team to our site near the town of Vladimir in Russia to install the first IT infrastructure (workstations, printers, local area network, file server and internet service) for a new facility which was being built there.  As a result of our successful mission, our colleagues in Russia, working at a remote and underdeveloped location, are able to work with the same tools as our staff in the Paris headquarters.  Additionally, our regional help desk is much appreciated by European users.  Our mission to keep the European infrastructure in top working order means that our plants can benefit from an excellent continuity of service and produce as efficiently as possible

What education have you pursued since Hope?

Since graduating from Hope College, I have gone on to obtain a Master of Science in International business from Boston University. My studies were located in Brussels, Belgium.

What positions did you have prior to your current one?

I started my career working for a software company in Holland, Michigan developing software for business automation and statistical process control applications. From there I moved to Ann Arbor where I developed software used in analyzing health insurance claims. After obtaining my masters, I moved into the automotive industry as a consultant. I began working with Chrysler as a business analyst and then later accepted a managerial position supporting international sales and marketing systems in that company. Most recently I have been able to branch out into the manufacturing, product development and supply chain management systems in my position as European IT manager for my current employer. 

How did your experience in the Computer Science Department at Hope prepare you for your present position?

One of the most memorable lessons from my days of taking classes in the Computer Science department is the one in which we were taught that computer science is really about problem solving, not only about developing software. Now, well into my career, I believe this was a very wise message, as we have seen, over the years, significant changes in the technology and business of developing software. In this environment, it is necessary to see the big picture and abstract what are the really important concepts from the day to day details of working with tools, many of which are here today and gone tomorrow. Such a mindset helps one adapt quickly to the rapid change in the IT industry.The hands on software development component of the coursework we did I see as having been essential for developing an analytic technique, methodical troubleshooting skills and an ability to work with details. I also see software development as an exercise in creativity, and always enjoyed this part of the course content. The theory and mathematical background is likewise necessary to develop a broader orientation towards working on a conceptual level. Lastly, the importance of the team projects, which we sometimes had difficulty to manage with respect to accountability in the more individualistic collegiate environment, became much more evident in the workplace.

How did your overall experience at Hope College prepare you for your present position and for life?

I am very happy to have gone the route of a liberal arts education and Hope College provided a very good foundation for that education. I think a liberal arts education is very compatible with a career in management and business consulting, because it allows the computer science professional to look at influences coming from various domains. It also allows the computer science student to apply the analytic skills learned in his area of concentration to other disciplines, which is a skill very much appreciated in the business world.During my years at Hope, I benefited from a broad range of experiences on campus as well as off. The international semester I did studying conflict resolution in Jerusalem definitely helped me to think globally. Today, globalization is having a big impact on the lives of everyone on the planet, and an early international experience can be very helpful in staying on top of this business and cultural trend.

What advice would you like to give to current computer science students at Hope College?

Think of learning a foreign language as an extension of learning a programming language and cultivate an awareness and understanding of events happening outside of the U.S.. When I was at Hope, I honestly never thought that a foreign language could be useful in my career. Today, it is not only useful, but also rewarding intellectually. Even if you never intend to set foot out of the United States, this country will be increasingly exposed to foreign business exchanges and become more interdependent on the world beyond its borders. Knowing how that world works can help you understand the process of globalization and use it to your advantage and to the advantage of your local community, state and country.

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Name: Darrick Brown
Year of Graduation - 1996
Employer - VideoEgg, Inc.
Title - Engineering Manager

What do you do during a typical workday?

My typical day consists of designing code architecture, feature implementation, developing technology strategies, managing people and resources, planning, and scheduling.

What do you find interesting about your current position?

My company is on the cutting edge of internet video and internet advertising. I get to solve new problems and develop new technologies using everything from C++ to Flash to databases to HTML on Windows, Mac, and Linux. I also have the responsibility of designing the technology strategy of some of our products. It's very interesting work.

What do you find to be enjoyable about your current position?

I enjoy the level of innovation the most. I enjoy working on projects and features that no one else has done before.

How does what you do impact others?

Internal to the company, I get to design the architecture of our products and help decide how we do things from a technology perspective. These designs and decisions affect almost everyone in the company. It's very exciting.Outside the company, my work results in a product that helps millions of internet users easily work with video.

What education have you pursued since Hope?

I have no formal education beyond Hope College. Informally, I keep my knowledge growing by reading books about technology, business, and finance.

What positions did you have prior to your current one?

Senior Software Engineer at Adobe Systems working on experimental projects; Principal Software Engineer at Macromedia working on the Contribute product line; Software Architect at Everything Developement- Software Engineer at Macromedia working on Dreamweaver

How did your experience in the Computer Science Department at Hope prepare you for your present position?

The Hope College Computer Science department provided challenging and engaging classes, but I think the ""open door"" policy of the CS department had a very positive effect as well. The computer labs were always open to CS majors for almost anything you wanted to do and the Hope CS faculty encouraged you to make use of the facilities. The Hope CS education gave me a fantastic base of knowledge and the access to the computing resources allowed me to work on my own projects. This combination of education and experience gave me the skillset to land an exciting job before I even graduated.

How did your overall experience at Hope College prepare you for your present position and for life?

Hope College and the Computer Science department challenged me and provided me with the environment and resources to help me grow my skills. It was a combination of education, opportunties, and having the right people around. Both my fellow CS students and the Hope CS faculty contributed to the creative environment. The Hope Computer Science department provided a solid education and a fantastic environment for building my knowledge and experience.

What advice would you like to give to current computer science students at Hope College?

Classes are only part of your education. Work on your own side projects and apply for positions on summer research projects (either at Hope or at other colleges). Work to expand your skills and knowledge beyond just taking classes. If you take the initiative, the Hope CS faculty will be right behind you with a lot of support.

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Name: Josiah Dykstra
Year of Graduation - 2002
Employer - National Security Agency
Title - Global Network Exploitation and Vulnerability Analyst

What do you do during a typical workday?

My job is help protect US military computers and networks against foreign intrusions, and also to help gather intelligence for the Department of Defense (DoD). A typical workday might involve identifying an intrusion against a DoD computer, writing an intrusion detection signature to protect against that attack in the future, and drafting guidance for military commanders about what was compromised and how to protect against it in the future.

What do you find interesting about your current position?

I find government work in general very interesting. I never thought I would stay with the government very long, but it has grown on me in unexpected ways. My current position allows me to do things that can be done nowhere else. Despite what people think, the intelligence community works incredibly well. You also get a very unique perspective about what's going on in the world.

What do you find to be enjoyable about your current position?

The most enjoyable part of my job is that computer and network attacks are always changing. It takes great curiosity, creativity and dedication to figure out what attackers are going to do next. I find much enjoyment in this challenge, and the knowledge that my success depends on constantly learning new things.

How does what you do impact others?

The offensive and defensive aspects of my job have a very real impact on both the military, and the American public. The safety and secrecy of sensitive military information depends on my ability to protect the government's networks. Some of my work also directly supports the global war on terrorism.

What education have you pursued since Hope?

I earned my Masters of Science in information assurance (computer science) from Iowa State University. I have also earned several certifications, including CISSP (Certified Information Systems Security Professional) and CCNA (Cisco Certified Network Associate).

What positions did you have prior to your current one?

While during undergrad and grad school, I worked three summers internships at NSA. During graduate school I worked as a research assistant as part of the CyberCorps Fellowship program. I have also done research in the Hope REU program, and worked for Gateway Computer's mobile engineering department.

How did your experience in the Computer Science Department at Hope prepare you for your present position?

I firmly believe that a well-rounded foundation in computer science is key to success in any specialty of the field, be it graphics design or security or technical support. My courses at Hope made me curious particularly about networking. However, my coursework in algorithms, programming and theory is applicable to my work every day.

How did your overall experience at Hope College prepare you for your present position and for life?

I feel very fortunate to have had the Hope experience. My four years at Hope helped develop me as a person, and formed friendships that I maintain to this day. Instead of only having a computer science perspective on life, I have found that a liberal arts background has given me the breadth and depth to understand and participate actively in my world. My position in the intelligence community requires that I collaborate with many others, and understand their perspectives to ensure our safety as a nation.

What advice would you like to give to current computer science students at Hope College?

My advice is to do what you're passionate about. Don't do what will make you the most money, or what your parents think you should do. Use the skills that God gave you, and find something you truly enjoy doing. Use this time to explore what's out there, both in computer science and elsewhere. Try new things, and make your own mark on the world.

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Name: Laura Grit
Year of Graduation: 2001
Employer: Duke University
Title:PhD Candidate

What do you do during a typical workday?

During a typical workday I go to school and I work on research. My field is distributed computing, so I am typically writing and testing code. My world revolves around conference paper deadlines, so when it is close to a deadline I am typically running experiments on my system or writing the paper. I also typically have group meetings with my advisor and his other students to either discuss conference papers or how we're going to proceed with our work. At the start of graduate school I also had to take classes, but I completed those by the middle of my 3rd year. I've also been a TA and next semester a typical day will look very different because I will be writing my thesis and teaching an undergraduate seminar class.

What do you find interesting about your current position?

Figuring out how to handle all of the interesting problems that arise during research. You never know what results experiments will give you or what problems you will discover that you have to overcome.

What do you find to be enjoyable about your current position?

I have a lot of flexibility. I can set my own hours and I can travel as long as I have an internet connection. I also enjoy working in a group with my peers to solve difficult research problems.

How does what you do impact others?

The particular system our group is working on will replace a lot of the administrative overhead in managing computer clusters. Soon our department and other departments around Duke will be using our system to run their experiments (in and outside of computer science) and reserve compute servers. For me, my career is just beginning, so the real impact of my current position will happen when I figure out what job I'm going to take when I graduate.

What education have you pursued since Hope?

I have received my MS in computer science and will (within the next year) receive my PhD.

What positions did you have prior to your current one?

I have done 4 summers of internships throughout my time in graduate school. Two summers with Sandia National Labs, one with IBM Reserach, and the other with HP Labs.

How did your experience in the Computer Science Department at Hope prepare you for your present position?

The classes I took in the department helped prepare me for the classes that I took in graduate school. I also learned core coding techniques that I use throughout my research.

How did your overall experience at Hope College prepare you for your present position and for life?

Coming from a liberal arts background, I am more well rounded than many of my peers. I tend to have better speaking, managing, and writing skills. I also have a better understanding/appreciation of how computer science is critical to other fields. One thing that really helped prepare me was the May term I did in India. Over 1/3 of the people I work with or interact with are from India, and I get a lot more respect when they know I've been to their country and understand something about their culture.

What advice would you like to give to current computer science students at Hope College?

Travel - take a May term or participate in the Vienna Summer School program (since semesters are hard to do in CS) and see some other part of the world to expand your worldview. The knowledge of yourself and of other people can be far more important to your future careers than what you learn in the classroom. Get your master's - with the way that CS jobs are heading, it's becoming more and more important to get your master's degree. Yes, I know that you're sick of school, but do it right after college instead of working for a bit because there is no advantage to delaying it and you are much less likely to go back if you don't go straight into a program. If you don't like research, find a course only masters program and it will only take you two years and the quality of job, the pay you'll receive, and the job security will be higher than if you go straight into the workforce.

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Ben Hilldore Name: Benjamin Hilldore
Year of Graduation: 2004
Employer: Lockheed Martin
Title:Software Engineer

What do you do during a typical workday?

While Lockheed is primarily a defense contractor, what many people don't realize is that they also work in many domains outside of the defense industry. One of those (and the one I work on) is distribution technologies and more specifically in my case, mail reading and sortation.

My job is to take the software that's used to read hand-written addresses, and figure out what I can do to make it better and faster.

This has consisted of examining publications for ideas, running statistical analyses, designing new algorithms, running tests on new or modified algorithms, examining source code execution paths, and collaborating with others working on improvements.

A typical day for me will vary quite a bit depending on what stage of design I'm working on, but will usually consist of some subset of a couple of those tasks along with a couple meetings.

What do you find interesting about your current position?

There's healthy dose of challenge in taking a system that works very well and trying to make it even better while optimizing for execution time as well. It can be frustrating at times, but it provides a great outlet for creative problem solving.

In addition, it's very interesting to be working on such a large project. What I do is just a very small piece of an extremely large system and to see how the pieces go together to form such an impressive system has been a very good learning experience for me.

What do you find to be enjoyable about your current position?

I thrive on challenges and as I mentioned above, the problems I work on provide a very enjoyable challenge.

How does what you do impact others?

The USPS handles billions of pieces of mail every year. Most of that mail goes through our system and if we get it wrong, mail can go to the wrong place.

In addition to that, the systems we develop push the boundaries of recognition technology and have far reaching consequences even in domains outside of mail processing.

What education have you pursued since Hope?

I completed a Master's degree in Computer Science with an emphasis in Computer Graphics at The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC).

What positions did you have prior to your current one?

I worked as a teaching assistant (TA) at UIUC. For several semesters, I was head TA of a class of over 800 students. In this position I oversaw 11-13 other TA's, taught, and designed some of the course curriculum.

How did your experience in the Computer Science Department at Hope prepare you for your present position?

The field of computer science is so broad that it's impossible to learn everything that you need to know for later on.  The Hope CS department does a good job of realizing this and instead focuses on some key aspects of computer science and most importantly on how to quickly learn any new concept.

How did your overall experience at Hope College prepare you for your present position and for life?

As stated above, the most valuable tool I have from my Hope CS education is the ability to quickly learn any new concept that I need to learn.

What advice would you like to give to current computer science students at Hope College?

If you are thinking about pursuing a graduate degree in computer science, it's never too early to start looking into what areas of research interest you. The field of computer science is huge and different graduate schools have strengths and weaknesses in the various sub-topics. It helps tremendously to have some idea of what interests you.

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Name: Emily (Tennant) Lynema
Year of Graduation: 2003
Employer: North Carolina State University Libraries
Title:Systems Librarian for Digital Projects; Associate Head, IT

What do you do during a typical workday?

I do anything and everything! I spend quite a bit of time each day communicating with others - email, IM, or in meetings. I might also be gathering usage statistics for some of our applications, designing and coding a new web service for our library catalog, working with the folks in my group to create a development timeline for the next few months, creating a presentation for an upcoming conference, discussing performance issues with vendor support, or troubleshooting an application failure. Every day is different.

What do you find interesting about your current position?

I live between two worlds - the world of programming and development and the world of librarians. By getting a master's degree, I decided to focus on solving technical problems within the library sphere. And there are plenty of them to solve. It's also interesting to work in an academic environment where ideas and solutions and code are shared freely between institutions, instead of being secrets.

What do you find to be enjoyable about your current position?

I do a wide variety of work every day - and every week. I spend lots of time meeting with people, discussing ideas, and planning for the future, as well as doing more technical work on projects or system maintenance. My work is always challenging and never boring.

How does what you do impact others?

Well, I work in a library at an academic institution, so I like to think that my work helps other people, at least in an indirect fashion. I participate in lots of different types of projects, but they mostly focus on the goal of helping students access resources they need for their academic work.

What education have you pursued since Hope?

Immediately after graduation, I spent 2 years at the University of Michigan School of Information, where I obtained a Master in the Science of Information, with a specialization in Library and Information Services.

What positions did you have prior to your current one?

I've spent my professional career in several positions at NCSU. Currently, I am sharing responsibilities as the interim Associate Head of our IT department as well as a Systems Librarian. Before I was hired on in a permanent position as a Systems Librarian, I was a Libraries Fellow, a 2-year position where I worked half-time in the IT department at the library and half-time in the Reference department at the library.

How did your experience in the Computer Science Department at Hope prepare you for your present position?

I'm one of the few librarians out there who has experience with real programming languages (more than just a bit of php or perl). That gives me a unique opportunity to work on developing and enhancing applications that serve the library community. The C.S. department at Hope tries to teach you how to learn new things, and that's something I have to do nearly every day.

How did your overall experience at Hope College prepare you for your present position and for life?

think my experience at Hope helped make me a more well-rounded individual. Reading, writing and presenting are things I do on a regular basis at my job, and I practiced these skills both in and out of the classroom while at Hope. While it's important to learn specific skills that will help you in your future career, it's also important to learn about the world around you. That's one of the things I liked about Hope - the opportunity to use gen. ed. requirements to explore other areas (like modern European history or Spanish language and culture).

What advice would you like to give to current computer science students at Hope College?

Take a variety of classes and try to figure out what's most interesting to you. When you graduate, you'll likely have to make a choice about what kind of job to seek - for instance whether you want to be a developer or work in IT support. Or you may want to think about whether there's a specific industry you'd like to participate in. That's the type of choice I made. Make every effort to get an internship or job where you are using some of the skills you learn in class. That not only provides experience for your resume, but will help you figure out what you actually enjoy doing.

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Name: Kathleen Ludewig
Year of Graduation: 2006
Employer: Open Michigan Initiative, University of Michigan
Title:Graduate Research Assistant

What do you do during a typical workday?

For my half-time position as a research assistant for Open Michigan (http://open.umich.edu/), I:

What do you find interesting about your current position?

I really enjoy the information policy aspects of my job. I’ve learned that intellectual property isn’t just about protecting corporate investments. The purpose of copyright is to promote learning which includes not only rewarding the creation of original works but also promoting the public’s access to those very works. The issues of contracts, fair use, and incentives for participating in free and open software or materials are topics that I find quite fascinating.

What do you find to be enjoyable about your current position?

I think that I have one of the best jobs in the world. I work with some very bright people who are enthusiastic about increasing access to and transparency of educational materials and innovative ways to use technology in that process. We are working with faculty members and students at a couple universities in Ghana and another two in South Africa to co-create  on  open educational materials for health sciences (medical, public health, dental, nursing). This international collaboration with institutions as equal partners is my favorite part of my job. I am currently planning a 5 – 10 week assignment in Ghana for summer 2009.

How does what you do impact others?

Most of my time is spent working with dScribe: a model whereby students, acting as dScribes, and faculty work together over the course of a semester to gather, review, and publish course materials from that faculty member’s course.  This distributed model of OER publishing builds upon the teaching-learning relationship between students and faculty, reduces overall costs of operation (especially compared to the costly staff-centric model that MIT used for its open courseware efforts), and can also be scaled across a variety of schools and departments. My task is to recommend and implement efficiency improvements in the dScribe process.

Our office has a couple computer programmers who handle the software modifications. I’ll occasionally do some basic web editing (HTML, CSS, JavaScript) and assist in evaluating  the best software platform(s) to host, index, and search the content that we’ve created.   

What education have you pursued since Hope?

I had a total of six weeks of on-the-job training when I worked in consulting. There was an introductory Visual Basic .NET course (which was easy for those of us who were computer science majors) and another for a tool called Ab Initio, a business consulting seminar, and some financial industry-specific courses.

I am currently in dual Masters degree program at the University of Michigan: a Master of Public Policy and a Master of Science of Information. My focus is international development.  I am specifically interested in the topics of information and technology access (ICT4D), public health, and pro-poor economic growth

What positions did you have prior to your current one?

My first job after Hope was as a systems integration analyst for a consulting firm in Chicago called Accenture (formerly known as Anderson Consulting). While there, I worked with three clients: a medium-sized bank in Tennessee, a large insurance company in Ohio, and an internal division of Accenture in Chicago. I spent Monday - Thursday night at a client site on projects. My particular role varied with each project and ranged from developing testing suites to programming to project management.

A year later, when I decided to go to graduate school, I got a half-time position as a programmer for the digital library division of University of Michigan.  I contributed code, testing suites, automation scripts, and user documentation to a middleware system that hosts over 13 million electronic resources, including the Michigan Digitization Project with Google. One of the coolest projects that I had there was designing an accessible user interface for Hathi Trust (http://www.hathitrust.org/) for optimal use with screen readers.

I had a wonderful internship this past summer at a local non-profit called Corporation for a Skilled Workforce (CSW) (http://www.skilledwork.org/). I interned with the Community Initiatives team - whose projects have increasingly used social media to connect policy makers with citizens ("policy 2.0" as one of my supervisors put it). The project I worked on, WeToo (website in progress at http://www.wetoo.org/) is a social networking website to connect Michigan entrepreneurs with organizations who can help them grow their business(es).

I began my current position in September 2008.

How did your experience in the Computer Science Department at Hope prepare you for your present position?

The most important skill that I learned from the Hope CS department was problem solving - how to analyze a problem and logically break it down into feasible tasks. The second most important lesson was how to work in teams. While team projects could at times be frustrating, they taught me how to share responsibilities and hold each other accountable. The team projects also showed me the importance of foresight, that is, making sure that code and documentation is thorough, clear, and re-usable.

How did your overall experience at Hope College prepare you for your present position and for life?

For me, the biggest challenge at Hope was choosing among the many opportunities available. With the small class sizes, it's difficult to fade into the background at Hope. There are countless opportunities to grow, explore new subjects, and flex your leadership muscles. The professors were very supportive and helped me to gain confidence in myself. The Career Services Office was also very helpful. In fact, I got my current job because the director of career services forwarded my resume to a manager at Accenture. The career services department taught me how to present myself in interviews and how to improve my communication skills in order to complement to my technical skills.

What advice would you like to give to current computer science students at Hope College?

Do summer research, either at Hope or a different REU program. It gives you a taste of what computer projects are like in "the real world." You may even get to travel to fun cities and present your results. It's also a great talking point for job interviews. Take advantage of the small classes and the availability of professors. Don't be afraid to ask questions. The Hope Computer Science professors are the friendliest, most sociable group of computer science professors that I've ever met.

Branch out from the computer science department occasionally. Take a public speaking class, pick up a foreign language, or travel abroad. You'll be more well-rounded and more desirable to employers.

Don't be frustrated if you're not the best programmer or if you struggle in the more mathematical computer science courses. There are a lot of positions in IT that do not directly involve coding.


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Name: Rick Meyers
Year of Graduation - 1974
Employer - Aplia Inc.(a division of Cengage Learning)
Title - Chief Technology Officer

What do you do during a typical workday?

My official title is CTO (Chief Technical Officer), but unofficially I'm the Flash Guy. I do spend some time helping set strategic and technical directions for the company, and helping keep the engineering team on the rails. But about half of my time is reserved for Flash development, where my work spans pedagogy, user interface design, visual design and engineering implementation.

What do you find interesting about your current position?

My role at Aplia combines three of my passions: education, engineering, and design. It's an ideal position for me - a place where I can combine my (somewhat limited) artistic and design skills with my (somewhat stronger) engineering skills in the very worthy cause of improving education.

What do you find to be enjoyable about your current position?

I love working with smart people, especially when their knowledge and experience spans multiple disciplines.  Because Aplia is a small company, I'm able to work directly with top-notch economists, statisticians, educators, and writers, as well as our engineering and sales teams. This interaction across the organization fosters fast moving innovation, and is great fun.

How does what you do impact others?

Aplia is an educational technology company dedicated to improving learning by increasing student effort and engagement. Currently, our products support college-level economics, finances, accounting, business communications and statistics courses, and have been used by nearly a million students and more than a thousand professors at 850 colleges and universities. The software I've written is used by tens of thousands of students every day. That's very rewarding.

What education have you pursued since Hope?

My degree from Hope is in Physics and Math; the CS major wasn't available until the year after I graduated. I went on to earn an MS in EECS/CS at UC Berkeley. I try to attend a couple of conferences a year (e.g. FlashForward, Macworld). And I read constantly, newspapers and magazines (WSJ, The Economist, Fortune, Time, Wired) as well as technical books (O'Reilly).

What positions did you have prior to your current one?

I began my career at Hewlett-Packard writing compilers. I spent fifteen years at Apple and it's subsidiary Taligent writing systems software and compilers, and managing development systems software efforts for the Lisa and Macintosh. The '80s were a wonderful time to be at Apple. Then a dozen years ago I changed careers, moving from deep down inside drivers and compilers all the way to client-side applications, design, and education. I ran my own consulting business (Meyers Labs) for several years before joining one of my best clients (Aplia).

How did your experience in the Computer Science Department at Hope prepare you for your present position?

The specific technical knowledge you learn at Hope will have a limited shelf life; the technical world keeps changing. What really makes a difference is the skills you learn: time management; fast, effective reading; clear, persuasive writing; logical analysis; mathematics; productive experimentation; problem solving; technical intuition; decision making. The CS, Math, and physical sciences curriculum at Hope, and the research opportunities in these departments, help develop these skills.

How did your overall experience at Hope College prepare you for your present position and for life?

Going beyond knowledge and skills, what matters most are the fundamentals: integrity, care for others, inner peace. Hope College is a wonderful place to learn balance in life: to grow socially and physically and spiritually and academically.

What advice would you like to give to current computer science students at Hope College?

Look for volunteer and career opportunities that use more than one of your interests and strengths. (If you love football, network hardware, and rainy days, go after that position as IT Director for the Seahawks.) And remember those levers from Physics. Look for roles with leverage, positions where you and a few colleagues can change the world.

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Name: Lilyana Mihalkova
Year of Graduation: 2003
Employer: The University of Texas at Austin
Title: PhD Candidate and Assistant Instructor

What do you do during a typical workday?

I spend most of my time doing research---I design, implement, and experiment with machine learning algorithms, identify new problems to work on, and collaborate with other graduate students on projects. I also participate in research meetings at which I discuss recent papers by other researchers across the world, as well as my own work. Starting in Fall 2008, I will also be an assistant instructor, which means I get to teach my own class -- "Intro to UNIX."

What do you find interesting about your current position?

My research is in an area that is not only very dynamic but also draws upon a variety of different fields. This means that there is a lot to learn, and new developments keep coming up. I find this aspect of my work very stimulating. I also appreciate the opportunity to teach a course on my own because this will allow me to experience first-hand the process of preparing lectures and figuring out what assignments would be most helpful to the students.

What do you find to be enjoyable about your current position?

There are many things I enjoy. I love the fact that I can be working on things that truly interest me and that I get to interact with some incredibly smart and creative people. I also enjoy the university atmosphere, especially around the beginning of each semester when so many students excited about their new courses arrive on campus.

How does what you do impact others?

Machine learning, which is the area in which I work, focuses on automatically "learning" useful information or models from data. By helping advance the state of the art in this area, I help cope with today's information overload by having computers do some of the data analysis.

What education have you pursued since Hope?

Immediately after graduating from Hope College, I entered the graduate program at The University of Texas at Austin where I have been pursuing a Ph.D. in CS.

What positions did you have prior to your current one?

I was a teaching assistant for two beginning CS courses. I led discussion sections, designed quizzes, and held lab hours to help students with their projects.

How did your experience in the Computer Science Department at Hope prepare you for your present position?

My experience in the Hope CS department has been very helpful to me in several ways. Apart from being able to take courses in the core areas of computer science, I had the opportunity to take independent study courses in some more specific fields such as a machine learning independent course with Dr. Dershem and a multiagent systems independent course with Dr. DeJongh. I also highly value the summer research program in which I participated as it prepared me for grad school.

How did your overall experience at Hope College prepare you for your present position and for life?

Many of the courses I took at Hope required me to write essays on a variety of topics and to give frequent presentations. I have come to greatly value the skills I acquired in these classes because being able to write and present one's ideas is extremely important for someone aspiring for an academic career.

What advice would you like to give to current computer science students at Hope College?

I would like to advise current Hope CS students not to be afraid to explore and to try to take a variety of courses so that they can find the sub-area of computer science that best fits their interests. Finding their true passion will help them be successful at what they do and will keep them going in difficult times.

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Name: Dave Mitchell
Year of Graduation: 1982
Employer: Computer Human Interaction, LLC (CHI-LLC)
Title:CEO and President

What do you do during a typical workday?

I perform a wide variety of management tasks and frequently have interactions with customers. Management tasks include both technical tasks and administrative tasks.

What do you find interesting about your current position?

As a servant-leader, my goal is to both set the direction for the company and to help employees realize their potential.

What do you find to be enjoyable about your current position?

I enjoy the variety of tasks, working with a good team, and interacting with customers.

How does what you do impact others?

As a leader, I impact others by giving them assignments, evaluating their work, and coaching them through complex and/or difficult situations.

What education have you pursued since Hope?

Professional seminars on a variety of topics such as Employment Law, Negotiating, and Leadership.

What positions did you have prior to your current one?

Prior to being named CEO and President, I served my current company as Vice President. Prior to coming to my current company, I was Director of E-Commerce at Herman Miller and also served in a variety of technical leadership positions during an almost 20 year career there.

How did your experience in the Computer Science Department at Hope prepare you for your present position?

Hope prepared me for my current position by offering both a technical and management set of educational experiences.

How did your overall experience at Hope College prepare you for your present position and for life?

Hope prepared me for both work and life by virtue of the ethics and life-skills.

What advice would you like to give to current computer science students at Hope College?

Be open to more than Computer Science - learn both the details and the overall concepts. Seek to understand the value of both what you do and how you do it.

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Name: Nathan Oostendorp
Year of Graduation: 1999
Employer: Sourceforge Inc
Title: Site Architect, SourceForge.net

What do you do during a typical workday?

Often I spend a good deal of my time coming up with ways to improve site performance, or integrate feature ideas with our existing application. I also act as a human reference manual to our development team, and try to address any emergency situations that arise.

What do you find interesting about your current position?

SourceForge is an interesting space, partly because it is a large application and must run extremely efficiently to maintain constant growth. It also is in some sense a micro-representation of the open-source movement in general.

What do you find to be enjoyable about your current position?

I get to work with a lot of talented engineers and designers, and anything we put on the live site we get immediate feedback on. I also have to deal with a lot of performance related issues where algorithms must be trimmed to the fastest possible runtime to keep page loads within specifications.

How does what you do impact others?

SourceForge.net is the world's largest repository of open source software -- with over 150,000 registered projects and well over a million registered users. We also serve millions of unregistered users every month who just want to download the software we host. Since our application operates on such a massive scale, if we can make things slightly more efficient or robust it helps a lot of people.

What education have you pursued since Hope?

I am currently pursuing a masters degree part time at the School of Information at the University of Michigan. I am specializing in Information Economics, Management, and Policy.

What positions did you have prior to your current one?

Before this position I worked as a developer on Slashdot.org and Everything2.com with Blockstackers Inc.

How did your experience in the Computer Science Department at Hope prepare you for your present position?

Hope College's CS department did an excellent job in giving a well-grounded education in the fundamentals of computer science. Both theory and practical applications were addressed, and the skills I acquired gave me an excellent foundation for work in the field of programming and software design.

How did your overall experience at Hope College prepare you for your present position and for life?

Hope College has given me a first-class education for both my professional and personal roles in life. I was a Computer Science major with an English minor, and I found the ability to interface with technology and the ability to communicate in writing are both essential skills for the information age. Hope has also given me common ground with a number of other alumni who I have met in the past few years -- people who otherwise I may have not gotten to know, except that they were also Hope alums.

What advice would you like to give to current computer science students at Hope College?

What you learn in your courses is very important, but it is also important to engage in outside activities such as internships and research. The CS curriculum will give you the foundation, but it's important to also gain experience in the field where you want to advance.

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Name: Jeff Penney
Year of Graduation: 1999
Employer: Sogeti USA
Title:Principal Consultant

What do you do during a typical workday?

System architecture planning, technical documentation, software development, client mentoring and software support.

What do you find interesting about your current position?

Learning and applying the latest technologies.

What do you find to be enjoyable about your current position?

Each day is a challenge because of aggressive development cycles and the need to support and integrate with existing systems. As a consultant I am constantly required to improve my skill set through certification programs and online classes. Whether I am working on client proposals, interviewing potential new hires or doing my client work the job never is boring.

How does what you do impact others?

As part of many of my client engagements I am required to mentor employees in common development practices. I also participate in a program to mentor new hires of Software Architects.

What education have you pursued since Hope?

I have attended many training classes sponsored by my employer including advanced Java and .Net training. I also belong to a Java focus group within my company that meets monthly to review and discuss the latest developments within the Java community. Besides attending classes and workshops I am involved in planning and teaching general OO, design patterns and Java classes for my employer.

What positions did you have prior to your current one?

I have been with the same company since my graduation from Hope. While with Software Architects I have done client development on e-commerce, client-server, web 2.0 and desktop applications. Besides my client work I have taught internal classes, worked on project proposals and done technical interviews for new hires.

How did your experience in the Computer Science Department at Hope prepare you for your present position?

The Hope College Computer Science department did a great job of preparing me technically for a software development position. While many of my peers at Software Architects were just learning Java in 1999 I was already an expert with three years of Java experience. While at Hope I also gained a lot of experience working in groups on small and large projects. This experience was very helpful when I was placed at clients where I needed to fit in fast and hit the ground running.

How did your overall experience at Hope College prepare you for your present position and for life?

Through my work on campus and my experiences in and out of the classroom at Hope I was well prepared for the real world. Hope provided me with a good mix of knowledge, technology and enjoyment. I am also grateful for the life-long friends I made while attending Hope.

What advice would you like to give to current computer science students at Hope College?

Take advantage of all the opportunities that Hope College provides. Make sure you keep up on campus events and enjoy your time at Hope.

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Name: Powell Quiring
Year of Graduation: 1982
Employer: IBM
Title: Software Development Manager

What do you do during a typical workday?

Part of my job is to define the vision, architecture and features of some IBM software products and services. I do this by creating presentations, prototypes, web pages and wikis. My development team, in collaboration with other teams, iteratively develops on this vision to deliver software to our customers. In addition I facilitate the communication between my team members as well as coordinate between the software development, test, deployment and other teams. I also read and write a lot of email and instant messages.

What do you find interesting about your current position?

I'm working with very talented people doing software development. Discussion of problems and working towards solutions is fascinating.

What do you find to be enjoyable about your current position?

Software development is my hobby as well as my job. It doesn't get any better than that. I enjoy anticipating the needs of my customers and creating the products that satisfy those needs.

How does what you do impact others?

The IBM Rational Software Development tools layered on the Eclipse IDE are used by thousands of engineers world wide.

What education have you pursued since Hope?

I worked towards my masters at the University of South Carolina.

What positions did you have prior to your current one?

I taught two semesters of Computer Science at Bethel College in Newton KS. I worked on Operating Systems and communications software for an embedded X Terminal at NCR in Columbia. I also did embedded runtime system development work at Verdix Corporation in Beaverton OR.

How did your experience in the Computer Science Department at Hope prepare you for your present position?

The CS classes provided a solid foundation of Computer Science. They also taught me how to teach myself and how to read and study and apply what I've learned to difficult assignments.

How did your overall experience at Hope College prepare you for your present position and for life?

Hope was a nurturing environment where my fellow students and I were focused on study and learning. In addition it was my most memorable years of non scholarly activities like tennis, raquetball, running, Skiles Pizza, intramural football, dorm life and much more.

What advice would you like to give to current computer science students at Hope College?

Start your programming assignments early.

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Name: Jerald Schoudt
Year of Graduation: 1995
Employer: IBM
Title:Software Architect and Engineer

What do you do during a typical workday?

I currently work in IBM Research on a prototype system which we use to test various innovations in software technology. The system hosts an application (currently a web email client), which IBM Employees can (if they choose to participate) use. We collect performance, scalability, productivity, and usability data from the system as we try out different features. In a typical day I review user-opened defects and enhancement requests, automatically generated usage and performance statistics, and architect, design, and develop new features to be evaluated. I've been in this role for 6 months now. Prior to that I spent 6 years on the IBM DB2 Content Manager product team architecting and implementing that software package.

What do you find interesting about your current position?

My current project is a very fast-paced and open style development position. We have a fanatical focus on quality, because buggy prototypes will skew user perception of the value of the features we are developing. But we need to move quickly since we discard or rework many of the features we try if the users' do not find them valuable or they don't have the desired impact on system performance and scale. I find it intriguing to see how the system or users react to a new feature and gaining a better understanding of both human-computer-interaction and system-component-interaction dynamics. In addition to doing software engineering work, I'm involved in the research aspects of the project as well, including writing papers and developing inventions. Hopefully this will lead me back to complete my PHD and attain a research position either within IBM or in academia.

What do you find to be enjoyable about your current position?

I think the most important aspect of any position is the team. I really enjoy the team of people that I'm working with, and the atmosphere we create for the team. I work from home 1500 miles away from the core of the team and even farther away from some other members of the team, so we really work to have a team that flexible and supportive. Even the most rewarding and stimulating work sours quickly if you don't enjoy your team and environment.

How does what you do impact others?

I'm in charge of the architecture for the system, so my decisions influence the design and implementation of everyone's work. Also, as we find interesting innovations in features or systems, our ideas are transferred to various product teams in IBM. It's very rewarding to know that our ideas help our customers be more successful.

What education have you pursued since Hope?

I pursued a masters degree at the University of Montana for 2 semesters immediately after leaving Hope. After my first year in the masters program, I got a summer internship with IBM. A combination of the unique environment within IBM and some life-changes (getting married) caused me to stay with IBM from that point on, for the past 10 years.

What positions did you have prior to your current one?

I have held several software engineering positions with IBM. I have worked my way up from an engineer to a senior engineer through these positions. I've worked on Geographic and Spatial data systems, Internet Media Authoring and Delivery Systems, Collaboration Software, Content Management Software, and Email Software. I've worked on projects that have failed as well as projects that have been very successful. Failure is often a more valuable learning experience than success, and knowing how to work through a failure or a setback and come out with long term success is something that everyone ought to learn.

How did your experience in the Computer Science Department at Hope prepare you for your present position?

I was at Hope at an interesting time. There were many exciting things happening in the CS world as the internet really took off. The excitement of the students and the insight of the faculty helped me prepare to go out and participate in these exciting things. I didn't join a dot com, or start an amazing community-oriented internet site like some of my peers at Hope. But I did feed off their enthusiasm. I think the environment around discovery and undergraduate research at Hope really fosters adventurous and forward thinking. I also think that Hope had enough faculty that were grounded in real-world experience to allow students to understand the limitations that people were facing with technology and see how to break through some of those limitations. I came to Hope after having already completed an undergraduate degree elsewhere and spending a few years in the IT Industry. I think that Hope really fostered an investigative and analytical aspect of my personality that I had started to find in my career and wanted to develop more.

How did your overall experience at Hope College prepare you for your present position and for life?

My overall experience at Hope was very focused in the CS department, since I already had an undergrad degree. I didn't get into much of the broader experiences at Hope; I was focused on those experiences I already described above.

What advice would you like to give to current computer science students at Hope College?

Take advantage of your time at Hope. You will grow and develop more quickly in that environment than you will once you start your career. Focus in on what the faculty and work have to offer you and try and get as much out of it as possible. If you have the opportunity to do research, take it. If you have the opportunity to work with Holland Community businesses in the course of your educations, take it. The real world is full of problems that you not only have to solve, you have to define and clarify. Getting experience in investigating a new area and defining the problems as well as solving them will really pay off for you down the road. It's not something you get in typical classroom work

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Name: Alex Suess
Year of Graduation: 1990
Employer: IBM
Title:Senior Programmer

What do you do during a typical workday?

Currently I lead a team of developers working on Electronic Design Automation (EDA) software typically used by micro-processor designers within and without IBM. Daily activities do still include writing and debugging code, but as team lead there is also a large chunk of time dedicated to attending meetings or reviewing results with members of the team or meeting with customers to understand their current problems or new requirements.

What do you find interesting about your current position?

The most interesting parts for me are the problem solving and the ability to be productive and helpful within the team environment. My current position constantly requires developing new algorithms to solve new problems that IBM is dealing with as new technologies evolve. And because of the size of new designs as well as time pressures to make the code run as efficiently as possible there is tremendous value and a challenge in being able to solve these problems with very efficient solutions which balance time and memory.

What do you find to be enjoyable about your current position?

The problem solving mentioned above is certainly a part of this enjoyment but the largest enjoyment comes from working on a team which gives many opportunities to help others, or see things a different way or just make one another laugh.

How does what you do impact others?

As mentioned above the software that I work at is used by micro-processor designers to enable them to time and optimize the logic on the chip such that it can meet the design specifications. This software is currently required to be run by all designs entering IBM's chip fabrication plants. Some parents might not be pleased by this impact, but this software was run to design chips from the three major game console manufactures.

What education have you pursued since Hope?

After leaving Hope in 1990, I earned my Master's Degree in Computer Science from Renssleaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) in Troy, NY in December of 1991.

What positions did you have prior to your current one?

After leaving RPI I joined IBM into the EDA Organization and have remained there ever since. My role has changed recently however as up until this year I had been working in the area of timing analysis (checking to see if the chip will run at the desired speed), and this year I've taken over new responsibilities as lead of the optimization team which is focused on changing the design in order to meet the timing, area and power requirements.

How did your experience in the Computer Science Department at Hope prepare you for your present position?

Even though I'm working on Electrical Engineering types of problems the dominant skill required in my job are Computer Science skills and much of my foundation was learned while I was at Hope. In fact, I found many Hope classes to be as tough or rigorous as those at my graduate level. The fundamentals of UNIX, data structures, algorithms and object oriented programming are all ingrained in me from my studies and projects there and I use on a daily basis. I should also note that the schooling at Hope is special in many regards vs. that of a larger graduate level engineering based schools. The professors are able to spend more time with the students (rather than graduate teaching assistants) because that there time is not being split with other graduate level work and that shows in the care and depth given to the education.

How did your overall experience at Hope College prepare you for your present position and for life?

Indeed my experience at Hope exposed me to many things academically and socially which prepared me for some of the challenges of life. Certainly it helped in enabling me to attend graduate school and also to get an excellent job thereafter which has been described here in some detail. I am very much indebted to the College and especially those who have worked there and have brought forth and also instilled in me wonderful academic abilities. But beyond that and even more importantly it also has shown me what to value in life through friendships, family and spiritual relationships which go well beyond academic skills.

What advice would you like to give to current computer science students at Hope College?

One opportunity that I didn't take when I was at Hope was to take advantage of some internship opportunities which would have given a better sense of the work environment which can be quite different in some ways from the typical college experience as it highlights the importance of working on a team. It ended up well for me but I know now that I didn't know what I was looking for until after I joined. Thus, I would likely recommend current students take advantage of such opportunities if presented to them.

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Name: Pamela L. Van Dort
Year of Graduation: 2005
Employer: Adduci, Mastriani, & Schaumberg, LLP
Title: Associate

What do you do during a typical workday?

Adduci, Mastriani & Schaumberg, LLP is a law firm in Washington, D.C. that primarily specializes in a specific type of litigation before the U.S. International Trade Commission.  It involves a mix of intellectual property law, administrative law, and international trade law.  During a typical workday, I do a combination of legal research, writing, problem solving, fact gathering, and attending trial-like hearings.

What do you find interesting about your current position?

Each new case involves a different patent, and therefore a different product about which to learn.  Thus, every day I learn new things about various types of intellectual property—from methods for creating integrated circuits, to flash memory devices, to methods for producing amino acids using bacteria.  Each case also raises new issues and presents new challenges in how to apply the law to the given facts.

What do you find to be enjoyable about your current position?

I really enjoy that I get to constantly learn new things and that I rarely do the same thing from day to day.   I get to work as part of a legal team to prepare strategies, plans of attack and writing briefs.  I also like putting together arguments, problem solving, and coming up with creative solutions to the legal issues with which we are presented.

How does what you do impact others?

Most directly, my work affects our clients (who are mostly corporations), and their employees.  It also affects the interests of the opposing party.  The ultimate goal of each investigation is to obtain an exclusion order from the U.S. International Trade Commission to prevent goods that infringe an intellectual property right (such as a patent or trademark) from entering the United States.  Or, if we are working for the party against whom the action was brought, the end goal is to obtain a finding that that party's goods do not infringe the intellectual property rights of the other party.  Thus, ultimately, goods that infringe a patent may be excluded from the United States as a result of what I do, or alternatively, goods are found to not infringe a patent  and are allowed to continue to be imported.  This then trickles down and affects the global business plan for these parties.

What education have you pursued since Hope?

I received a Juris Doctor degree from The George Washington University Law School in Washington, D.C.

What positions did you have prior to your current one?

During law school, I worked as a law clerk in the Office of Investigations in the Office of Inspector General at the National Science Foundation.

How did your experience in the Computer Science Department at Hope prepare you for your present position?

My computer science experience at Hope taught me valuable problem solving skills that I utilize often in my work.   I learned how to teach myself new things—an invaluable skill that was further developed in law school.   The specific technical aspects of the degree have also come in handy when dealing with cases that involve patented processes dealing with coding or computer programs.

How did your overall experience at Hope College prepare you for your present position and for life?

I studied political science and psychology in addition to computer science at Hope, and all three of these areas have been useful to me in studying the law.  The research I did as an undergraduate taught me how to plan, manage, and organize projects and divide my time amongst many responsibilities.  My liberal arts education at Hope has also made me a more well-rounded person who is better able to handle whatever life throws at me.  I took advantage of some of the many May term travel opportunities and these gave me valuable life experience dealing with people from different backgrounds and cultures.  All of these experiences at Hope have helped me improve both my professional and personal life.

What advice would you like to give to current computer science students at Hope College?

Make sure to start your programming projects early!  It will make your whole computer science experience much less stressful and more enjoyable.  It also allows you to have time to go to your professors with your questions. 

Take advantage of the small class sizes and opportunities to work for and get to know your professors.  One of my favorite aspects of Hope was the relationships I built with my professors. Not only does this enrich your experience at Hope, it will come in handy throughout the rest of your life.  Having mentors and people to whom you can go for career guidance and for references will be invaluable to you as you start on your careers.

Get as much hands on research experience as you can.  Hope's undergraduate research opportunities are one of its best and most unique qualities.  It will help you learn new skills and also make you more marketable upon graduation.  

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Name: Thomas VanWynen
Year of Graduation: 1980
Employer: Wycliffe Bible Translators, Inc.
Title:Webmaster, Wycliffe International

What do you do during a typical workday?

What do you find interesting about your current position?

There is a lot of variety; every year I have had to learn a major new system of some sort. I am always getting to try out the latest web technology to see if it will help solve our needs.

What do you find to be enjoyable about your current position?

I enjoy the variety and freedom in making decisions. I enjoy the people I work with (I am part of our Web Applications Group; I focus on the public websites).

How does what you do impact others?

I am part of the largest Bible translation organization in the world. We work directly with over a thousand of the 6000 languages around the world. I am able to connect the many field operations with the over 60 partner sending organizations, making information available quickly. The online giving system I set up in my last assignment (for Wycliffe USA) processed several million dollars in direct field donations in the first year.

What education have you pursued since Hope?

One semester of Linguistics (at University of North Dakota).various training courses, such as Pathworks networking classes from DEC.

What positions did you have prior to your current one?

Webmaster, Wycliffe USA. Multimedia programmer, Macromedia Director and Flash, producing CDs and interactive stations.Translators Workplace programmer, processing text (Greek and Hebrew) for use in an online application.Network technician, Dallas International Linguistic CenterTech Support, Brazil operations, hardware repair and software support.

How did your experience in the Computer Science Department at Hope prepare you for your present position?

At Hope College I got experience in a wide range of languages, and a good background in how systems work which has made learning all the new systems that have come out since much easier.

How did your overall experience at Hope College prepare you for your present position and for life?

The team projects were probably the most useful learning situations. They are the most like real life working situations.

What advice would you like to give to current computer science students at Hope College?

Focus on the big picture of how systems work, not so much on the details of a current system. The IT world changes too quickly to plan on being a guru in something for very long. Learn to work with others; most jobs require this ability. Learn to present your ideas well; the best presentation will often win out over the best idea or implementation. Don't let your good ideas die from lack of exposure.In Web applications, get something up fast, and get user feedback as quickly as possible, then fix it. Don't try to plan the whole thing out ahead; no one is smart enough for that.

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Name: Douglas Van Wieren
Year of Graduation: 1988
Employer: Harvard University
Title: Research Fellow in Applied Physics

What do you do during a typical workday?

I've really never had a typical workday, so I don't know. My research area has been stretched lately, and I couldn't find a common theme if I tried. Every day, I have a list of things to do that are urgent and I try to cross out as many as possible. Today's list included a question involving randomized structures and femto-second laser pulses. I haven't crossed it out yet (and I'm afraid I might never be able to). Every day is very different in my working circumstances as well. I have traveled around New England lately and presented material on Instructional Technology (and other bits of research) to audiences ranging from groups of college and university presidents to a group of less-advantaged fifth graders. (This might mean that my sense of geography is very poor. Somehow, Romania, Washington, and Florida may have been included in New England this semester.) Sometimes, I'm locked in my office writing, rushing to a meet a deadline. (The really, really hard part of my job is writing clear, simple English sentences and paragraphs.) At other times, I'm dealing with people -- often playing psychiatrist, counselor, and mediator. The core of my research, I think, is still Computer Science. I deal with both theory and practice. I'm constantly sketching equations on scrap paper. I've also worked many times this semester into the late night writing software, designing interfaces, and fixing bugs in other people's code. All of that doesn't answer the question, but it may give someone a feel for what my day-to-day job might be like -- extreme diversity. This extends to my wardrobe too: I'm absolutely shocked to discover that I now own several ties -- although I think of myself as a blue jeans kind of person.

What do you find interesting about your current position?

Again, every day is different. I have often repeated that ancient, stale joke about academia, "The biggest perk is the freedom -- you're free to work whichever eighty hours of the week you like."  I've also teased students to the effect that, "Bright people don't go into academia." The reality is that I'd rather be challenged every day -- and frequently beyond my limits -- than be bored.  Academia is never boring. True, there are probably repeated aspects. As soon as I encounter them, I'll let you know. (Actually, I'd probably try to build a generic solution first. If I'm successful, then the situation doesn't represent a recurrent problem; if I'm not, then I have something unique, and, again, . . . )

What do you find to be enjoyable about your current position?

In brief, this job, being an academic, is the most fun I can imagine. (I get paid for it too.) Dealing with students is one of the biggest challenges and one of the biggest perks. About three times a semester, I've been able to make a student gasp, "Oh" (which I hope means that he/she/it has just grasped a difficult principle for the first time). I've found that that part of the experience is worth the all the time and effort that went into producing it. Again, I happen to like puzzles. (Programming machines is relatively easy. People are more difficult, and the various ethical boundaries make that aspect of the job a source of constant puzzles.) This may not be to everyone's taste, but I find it beats Sudoku.

How does what you do impact others?

Most of my students will not be great scientists or respected researchers. Many of them will simply be valued members of society. I'd like to think that, if they have an appreciation of algorithmic thinking, mathematical modeling, etc. than they'll be more successful in their chosen pursuits. I'd love to tell you that this is true in all cases, but I really don't know. I do know that statistics support the idea, and I've been working under this delusion so long so that I really can't see it other way. In brief, I have a lot of faith that education matters, that research matters, and that all aspect of related service matter. My latest project has me investigating how to make traditional education more effective.

What education have you pursued since Hope?

I got a doctorate from the University of Michigan. They actually gave me diploma. I'm still amazed about this. I was not the brightest of students. I was not the most diligent (hard-working). If there's a moral there, it lies in the fact that I was very persistent. Carefully, I learned a great deal there. I'm still learning. This never stops. The degrees are one thing. The education is something else. I've learned from my mistakes. I've had to *learn* to learn from my mistakes. Of course, that means that I had to make many mistakes, and this, in turn, means that I had to try many things (and live through the experiences). I recommend the University of Michigan for graduate school over the school of hard knocks. Fewer scars are involved.

What positions did you have prior to your current one?

I've taught at a wide range of places -- Penn State, the University of Texas at Austin, etc. Most recently, I've taught at the Sarajevo School of Science and Technology -- this is a school that my wife and I helped to establish in Bosnia. I've also worked as a consultant and software developer. There's a wealth of experience in everything I've tried. If someone's thinking about following my path, the sequence is less important than the selection process. The underlying theme is ignoring good advice and fearlessly going places where brighter people are suggesting you don't belong. Be prepared for a few bruises and disappointments -- also, you'd better be prepared to respond when the doors accidentally open.

How did your experience in the Computer Science Department at Hope prepare you for your present position?

In terms of course content, I'm frequently surprised at how much I remember and how much I need it every day. There was an old half-proverb on Dr. Vandervelde's door regarding grains of sand on the beach. (Poor rendition of the moral: "The next day, the person discovered that every grain of sand in his/her/its pockets had turned into a jewel. As predicted, the person was both happy and sad. Happy, because the value of the sand was now evident; sad because he/she/it had not taken more.)"   Well, I reflect on the deep truths in that proverb often. I'm both happy and sad about my time at Hope. Everything I took away turned into something of great value. I wish I had taken away much more. In fact, I can recall with great clarity much of what went on in my undergraduate career at Hope. I think I would be remiss if I didn't point out that I wasn't always the best student. The instructors went above and beyond to reach me, and, if I took away anything, that particular example was the most important. (Teaching by example, by the way, is a rather difficult trick.) Not to single anyone out, but Dr. Dershem was one of the best examples I had in that respect. He was tireless, and I'd be lucky if I turned out to have a fraction of the impact on others that he had on me. There were others of equal caliber. I recall some of Mike Jipping's lectures very clearly and one of Reverand Van Heest's sermons almost verbatim. The list goes on, and, if I tried to recollect every person or event and list them all, I'm certain I'd skip one of the most important. I can simply hope that my former professors realize that bounds of brevity do not govern the limits of my appreciation. Further, since I'm actively involved in trying to pay some of it forward, I also hope that they understand when I'm a slow correspondent. I know, for a fact, that I now appreciate their contributions on another level. (And I suspect that they're now chortling with satisfaction --- yes, Kharma has now paid me back in spades for all of my shortcomings as a student.)

How did your overall experience at Hope College prepare you for your present position and for life?

The question presumes that I'm prepared for my position and my life. I'm not always sure that I'm prepared for anything. I've tried lately to reflect on the some of the other things that my professors tried to teach me that I'm not sure I learned properly. Little things -- like integrity, character, etc. And there were very active qualities that various professors tried to instill in me: being gracious, having an open mind, etc. Hmmm. Table manners may have come up. There were (and probably still are) a lot of virtues being demonstrated at Hope by the faculty. Dr. Bandstra tried to get some of this into my rather thick skull by offering me Plato and Socrates -- he did manage to trick me into reading the Meno, the Republic, etc. I remember the plots rather well. They wouldn't make good action movies. Whether or not I learned anything is another question. Frankly, I'm still not certain whether or not virtue can be taught; however, I have to quickly admit that I'm probably a better person than I would have been if I had not gone to Hope. If the question is, Did I always live up to the very high standards that were set for me, the answer's clearer than I would care to admit. Those were/are some very high standards. If the question allows for some leeway on my capacities, I'm a little more optimistic. I am (still) trying, but I really think the jury's still out on much of this. If the question is, Did I benefit from attending Hope, the answer is a resounding yes.

What advice would you like to give to current computer science students at Hope College?

I have a very bad answer here: Take advantage of your professors. Hey, they're there, right? Simply, go beyond what was asked in the courses you're taking and use up all of their office hours making them critically review what you're doing. Strive for true excellence and shamelessly use their time to make sure you're on track. The bottom line is that, if they're not actively throwing you out, then you could be spending more time with them. Of course, this does involve following whatever advice they give. There is a little quid-pro-quo here. I modestly suspect that the given advice might require a bit of your time -- e.g., read your textbooks completely and deeply; attend the seminars (and anything else even vaguely related); write copious amounts of code (practice, practice, practice); investigate difficult questions (trying to rise to the level of writing required for peer-reviewed publication); etc., etc. In brief, make your education extend as far as possible beyond the classroom, and use all of the available resources -- as much your professors will allow. (If you're sleeping at night, you probably have more time to spend on learning things.) By the way, if you should happen to exhaust the patience of the currently active professors, I *think* the emeritus professors are hiding in the A. Paul Schaap Science Hall -- somewhere in the basement. Follow the signs marked, "Fossils." BTW, Eliot Tanis is writing a nice book down there and he could use some proofreaders.

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