Ambassador Highlight of the Week: Mazen Mansour

Egypt to UMKC

Name: Mazen Mansour
Hometown: Alexandria, Egypt
Major: Mechanical Engineering
Year: Senior
Clubs: Pi Tau Sigma, Research Assistant, Thermodynamics T.A., Math Tutor
Favorite class: Thermodynamics
Favorite place to study: Miller Nichols Library, 4th floor
Why you chose UMKC: I love Kansas City and UMKC’s class sizes. There are also lots of industry partners in Kansas City.

In the summer of 2012 I made one of the biggest decisions of my life. I left my home country Egypt, and started applying to colleges in the United States. Although I am a dual citizen, I had never lived in the U.S before. In the fall of 2013, I started as an Aerospace Engineering student at Wichita State University. My first couple of weeks here in the U.S by myself were very tough. I had to adapt to a new language, a new culture, and a new lifestyle, but I knew I came to U.S to succeed and success doesn’t come easy. I visited Kansas City during Thanksgiving break and instantly fell in love with the city. I transferred to UMKC after my freshman year and I am so thankful for all the opportunities I’ve had here.

When I moved to KC, my English wasn’t as good as it is today. I had difficulties understanding people at first. The first job I had in Kansas City was working at a McDonald’s. While I was only earning minimum wage, it was probably one of the most valuable experiences I’ve ever had. I was speaking to around 500 customers every day which helped me improve my English skills. Through my sophomore, junior and currently my senior year, there is one very important thing that I’ve learned; “The impossible is possible unless you say no.”

Since coming to UMKC, I’ve had the opportunity to work in various positions on campus. I’ve worked as a math tutor, campus host, teacher assistant, research assistant, and SCE student ambassador. This might sound normal for some people, but for me as an 18 year old kid coming from Egypt, to live in a totally new country was a big deal. And getting my first ever name tag or having my name on a syllabus of a class with my own “office hours” was an even bigger deal! My proudest moment was when I saw my name on a 4 by 3 feet poster for my research that I was working on this past summer. Besides working on campus, I was also blessed to get an internship at PAS Technologies, a manufacturing plant for small aeroplane parts.

I think to succeed in college and life in general, one needs to be optimistic. I wake up every day at 5:30 a.m. and say “Good morning, Mazen! Let’s go out and get it before the day gets you.”

Riddhiman Das
Product Architect, EyeVerify, Inc.
Bachelors of Science in Computer Science, Class of 2012
Current City: Kansas City, MO  Hometown: Guwahati, India
Twitter Handle: @rdasxy

What drew you to Computer Science?
I was lucky that I figured out what I wanted to be when I grew up when I was still young. When I was 7 years old, my family got our first computer; I was so fascinated by it that I decided that I was going to become a computer scientist when I grew up.

I was exposed to computing concepts early– my parents would get me undergraduate level programming books while I was still in elementary school. They tried to get me the best resources possible to help me learn as much as possible.

I knew in my early teens that computing was going to bring about tremendous change in our lives, and that I wanted to play a part in the “Information Revolution” that was going to have an immense impact into the 21st century human civilization.

How do you keep up with the rapidly changing field of technology?
I often joke that Hacker News (https://news.ycombinator.com) flows through my veins. I am plugged into several online communities through social networking sites, as well as regularly reading numerous technical journals, blogs, websites, etc.

I have also started taking several MOOCs (massive open online course) lately through Udacity and Coursera, which has really helped me pick up newer technologies.

How did UMKC prepare you for your career?
The School of Computing and Engineering has a very thorough Computer Science program. The content I learned as an undergraduate was comparable, or sometimes even better than top Computer Science schools around the world. What was even better about the school was that because it is smaller, I had easy access to all my teachers and faculty. They all knew me personally and made several opportunities available to me that would not have happened at a bigger school.

I was part of several research projects that really helped me refine my skills as a computer scientist. It was also fun because I got to present my research at several conferences, where I met folks from universities around the world. When I graduated with my undergraduate degree, the research I was involved with was nearing commercialization so it ended up being my full time job.

Ambassador Highlight of the Week: Kacey Henik

The Stem Career Fair

Name: Kacey Henik
Hometown: Independence, MO
Major: Electrical Computer Engineering (ECE)
Year: Senior
Clubs: SWE, Alpha Sigma Alpha, Mortar Board
Favorite class: Embedded Systems
Favorite place to study: Computer labs or my apartment
Why you chose UMKC: I wanted to major in ECE, which is a program offered at very few universities.

 

My name is Kacey Henik, and I am a senior in the Electrical Computer Engineering (ECE) degree program. ECE is unique because not very many colleges offer the combined electrical and computer engineering focuses in a single program. . This provides more career options for after graduation, even though most engineering degrees are fairly versatile in their career applications.

One of the events that UMKC holds every semester is the STEM Career Fair. My sophomore year, I went to the career fair in the spring where I secured an internship with Kansas City Power and Light. This internship was a great entry point for me and let me see what it was like to work at a utility. I loved how the company revolved around the customers and the way that we could best serve them through providing reliable and efficient power. However, I was still was not 100% sure what I wanted to do after graduation.

My junior year of school, I went to the fall career fair, after which I was offered an internship with Burns & McDonnell, a large engineering consulting firm headquartered in Kansas City. My first summer had shown me the utility side of things and this past summer showed me something new – consulting. On the consulting side, the project scope varies greatly, as we serve clients all over the country, and in some cases, across the world.. I really enjoyed the environment of the company and the variety in projects I was able to work on.

Seeing both the utility side and the consulting side proved to be great experiences for me and helped me to make a more informed decision on where I wanted to work for my career. I recently accepted an offer with Burns & McDonnell to work full-time after graduation (nine months before I graduate!), and I am thankful to be able to continue working there part-time while I am still in school! I attribute much of my success to the School of Computing and Engineering and the dedication they show us students. I am thankful to be at a university that is located in a place where I even get to start on my career a little earlier!

Ambassador Highlight of the Week: Katrina Flynn

Internship to Future Career

By: Katrina Flynn
Hometown: Papillion, NE
Major: Information Technology
Year: Senior
Clubs: Student Government Board for Dining Sevices, UMKC Grievance Committee, Student Staff at UMKC Welcome Center
Favorite class: IT 350 – Object Oriented Programming
Favorite place to study: Miller Nichols Library
Why you chose UMKC: I wanted to move to a bigger city.

 

One of the biggest reasons that I decided to move from a small town in Nebraska to Kansas City was because I knew that I would have more job opportunities in a larger city—and UMKC has not let me down.

I am incredibly thankful for the amount of internship opportunities that have been presented to me by SCE. I received my first internship at the beginning of my sophomore year, and I was truly blessed. I worked as an analyst intern in the IT department at ConAgra Foods World Headquarters in Omaha, Nebraska during the summer before my junior year. This was a great experience and I learned a lot about what I liked and didn’t like, in preparation for my long-term career aspirations.

During my junior year, I received another internship with a company in Kansas City called Protiviti, an internal audit and technology consulting firm. I was curious to take my degree to another level and see what different paths I could take with my major. I even got to travel with this internship! Training took place in Orlando, Florida for the first couple of weeks, and I was able to go to Disney World for the first time. Overall, this was exactly what I was looking for with my major. It was a great work environment with awesome people in the city that I love. Needless to say, I was happy to receive a full-time offer after I graduate—which I humbly accepted.