On July 9th, the Engineering Professional Master’s Program (EPMP) brought five Master of Computer Science (MCS) alumni together to discuss their experiences at Rice. The panel provided prospective students insight on the life of a computer science major after earning their professional masters.
The webinar was moderated by Mack Joyner, the Director of the Master of Computer Science Program. He was joined by David Cai (BS ‘19, MCS ‘19), Eric Engineer (BS ‘01, MCS ‘02), Namanh Kapur (BA ‘19, MCS ‘20), Liliana Liu (BA ‘94, MCS ‘98) and Amanda Pound (PhD ‘03, MCS ‘05).
One thing that stood out among the alumni collectively was how significantly their time at Rice positively impacted their careers. It wasn’t just about courses or programming languages. It was about the fundamental constructs and concepts they learned.
“The MCS program changed my way of thinking and my worldview,” explained Eric Engineer, an ‘02 MCS graduate and Venture Partner at S3 Ventures. “It gave me an engineer’s mindset, a way to approach business building, organizations, machinery. It’s a core way of thinking that I found very valuable..thinking about things in frameworks and pattern matching over large time scales.”
Andrea Pound, MCS ‘05 graduate and Software Development Manager at Schlumberger talked about MCS changing her way of seeing things, especially as someone who came back to education after earning a PhD in a different field in ‘03. She believes that problem solving skills are the essence of what makes a good computer scientist. While in the Rice MCS program, she learned “logically how to solve each piece of the puzzle, determining where the risk is, ensuring success.” She added, “Sometimes in the working world, you’re a technical advisor, and it’s not clear if there is a solution."
David Cai, MCS ‘19 and Associate Product Manager at Yahoo, adds that there’s “not always one correct answer.” While Cai isn’t a programmer by profession, his coursework provided him with “a very useful, large foundation of tech knowledge” which he described as the key to his success in the tech industry.
For Liliana Liu, Senior Consultant at RazorMetrics, she thinks back to what Rice taught her about communication and storytelling and how it has been key to her working relationships. “Storytelling is what you do when you explain a problem to your teammates trying to get buy in,” she says. “Learning that in a safe environment and an academic setting was very beneficial.”
In closing out the event, Director Joyner emphasized how much the MCS program nurtures students from the moment they step on campus. “Rice is a very welcoming place,” Joyner told the group. “We are here to help you to succeed, not just train you and take your money. We’re about caring for you as an individual. We hear things like this from MCS alumni all the time. We care about you from the moment you come in.”
“We’re a family here to help you succeed.”
This virtual event was organized by the Rice University Engineering Professional Master’s Program. Explore more professional master’s alumni outcomes, find program information and stay connected for future virtual events by visiting epmp.rice.edu.