Alumni Q+A: Srinivas Chilakalapudi

Srinivas Chilakalapudi
Chief Strategy Officer, Green Gold Animation
Class of 1994
Current City: Hyderabad, India Hometown: Hyderabad, India
Twitter Handle: @srini_cc

What initially attracted you to UMKC?
UMKC was working on the current hot technologies at the time I was applying. The application of Computer Science in the fields of Telecommunications and Networking was an emerging area and a lot of research was being done by many companies. UMKC was one of the few universities that was offering courses and programs in these fields.

Tell me about an average day at your job.
I am a member of the leadership team and most of my day involves solving critical issues. We have to check on our production schedules and stay in touch with all of our customers and partners. Making sure that everything is progressing smoothly is the main part of my regular day.

How did UMKC prepare you for your career?
At UMKC, as a foreign student, I had to juggle both my education and livelihood. I was a Teaching Assistant. Apart from teaching, attending all my classes, and following the research going on in my field, I had to take care of myself in a new country, understand its people and a different culture. This made me a tough and hardworking individual. I used to plan my day very meticulously in order to get everything done, which has served me in good stead even now.

What drew you to Computer Science?
I loved to solve problems and I was pretty good at math, so I was drawn towards programming and computing. New technologies like the internet, networking, switching, and mobile communications fascinated me and I wanted to contribute towards these cutting edge technologies.

How did you decide what area you wanted to work in?
I wanted to make a contribution in the area that I studied and that was an emerging technology field. During the early 90’s, networking was a hot field and companies like Cisco were still startups. I enjoyed being part and parcel of the teams that were making the internet and inter-connecting possible and we were constantly working on innovative technologies.

What advice do you have for students entering the field?
It is very important to learn the subjects, understand them in depth, and not be superficial. Though grades are important, learning and understanding the basics is even more important. You need to work hard and in a methodical way. Plan your schedules well and execute your plans well. That is the key to success.

Alumni Q+A: Ryan Fowler

Ryan William Fowler
Mechanical Facility Engineer and Energy Coordinator, Orbital ATK Lake City AAP
Bachelors of Science in Mechanical Engineering, Class of 2012
Current City: Blue Springs, MO Hometown: Blue Springs, MO

 
Tell us about your job.
At my job I get involved with managing the plants integrated building management control system, HVAC systems, boiler/steam systems, and all aspects of energy management. I often have construction projects I am responsible for deterring technical requirements and in some cases supervise field work.

One project I particularly enjoyed was the design and implementation of a reverse osmosis treatment system at the Lake City Boiler Plant. I am part of the plant’s master planning process which determines the needs and requirements which will keep the facility in working order for many years to come.

I worked at my company throughout college and interned in facilities engineering. They kept me on once I graduated. I fit very well in this type of engineering and would recommend it to anyone.

How do you balance your work life with your personal life?
I work when I am scheduled to work and I’m home when I’m scheduled to be home. Keeping the two separate and staying focused on what’s important at the time allows me to manage my time well and keep a healthy balance between the two.
Sure there are overlaps every now and then, but they are few and far between. Family comes first, and if you’re working somewhere that doesn’t respect that then it might be time to seek other opportunities.

What advice do you have for students entering the field?
One step at a time. Listen to the experienced engineers in your group and ask a ton of questions, they will be your greatest ally in conquering this new and exciting world. You will make mistakes and you will learn from them. It’s all part of becoming a good engineer. Hang in there; this is where all the fun happens!

Alumni Q+A: Riddhiman Das

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.

Seniors Design App for Microsoft’s New HaloLens

By Alex Maurer

Every semester at UMKC’s School of Computing and Engineering (SCE), students apply their skills and knowledge to their hands-on Capstone Senior Design Project.  For computer science seniors Eric Lytle, Zach Wolf, Jarren Back, Cameron Knight, Eric Wilson, and Alex Mammele, this capstone project afforded them the opportunity to work with the innovative technology of the HoloLens.  Teaming up with the School of Computing and Engineering’s Recruitment staff, these seniors designed an app that can be used in high school and middle school classrooms throughout the Kansas City area to showcase the exciting and cutting-edge work of SCE students.

Through the use of the programming language Unity, a language that will be introduced into computer science classes in SCE this spring, they developed an app that provides a mixed reality for users that combines augmented and virtual realities.  With this app, users can spatially map the environment they are standing in and incorporate holograms that interact with their actual environment.  In this case, UMKC’s mascot, Kasey the Kangaroo, will chase after objects that the user can “throw” into their environment.  This gives the user a fun interactive experience with the environment they live in (augmented reality) and the objects created within the app (virtual reality).

Due to the recent release of the HoloLens, these students were presented with the unique challenge of not only programming the app, but researching and discovering how to create successful programming and code through a trial-and-error process.  While this process proved tedious, Eric Lytle noted that the “exploratory programming” of this app was one of their favorite experiences with this project as it allowed them to develop new skills and knowledge, and be at the forefront of technology.  Not only did this exploratory programming provide a unique experience for this group of students, it also stands to create new opportunities for future SCE students who seek to further develop the app and create new uses for the HoloLens.

Learn more about the HaloLens at: https://www.microsoft.com/microsoft-hololens/en-us

View the HaloLens in action at SCE: https://www.facebook.com/pg/UMKCSCE/videos/?ref=page_internal