Sean Mayo’s pas­sion for tech­nology dates back to his child­hood where he spent his time dis­as­sem­bling and reassem­bling old VCRs.

At North­eastern, the elec­trical and com­puter engi­neering dual major has been chan­neling his enthu­siasm for elec­tronics into an impres­sive array of expe­ri­en­tial endeavors. Most recently, he landed a highly cov­eted co-​​op job as an engi­neering ana­lyst for Apple’s iPod /​ iPhone tech­nology team. The job was a per­fect fit.

I like to build things. The process of cre­ating is very com­pelling,” explained Mayo, adding, “Everyone you see walking on the street has an iPod or an iPhone. It’s great to be part of a com­pany that makes some­thing that is used and enjoyed by so many people.”

As an inte­gral part of the Apple team for the past six months, Mayo devel­oped future appli­ca­tions for the iPod and iPhone, ana­lyzed the tech­nology of com­petitor prod­ucts like Microsoft’s “Zune,” and authored or co-​​authored 13 U.S. process and soft­ware patents for the pop­ular hand-​​held devices.

Mayo, who grad­u­ated on May 1, credits his range of prior research and co-​​op expe­ri­ences for the skills that got him the job at Apple. As a sopho­more, he did research at Northeastern’s Bernard M. Gordon Center for Sub­sur­face Sensing and Imaging, where he devel­oped algo­rithms to detect and clas­sify buried, unex­ploded ordi­nance. The fol­lowing year, he did a co-​​op at the Bed­ford, Mass., loca­tion of Mitre Cor­po­ra­tion, where he devel­oped per­sonal nav­i­ga­tion sys­tems for sit­u­a­tions where GPS pro­grams don’t function.

These expe­ri­ences not only looked impres­sive on his resume, but also gave him the oppor­tu­nity to explore advanced mate­rial in real-​​life set­tings. “On my first co-​​op I was exposed to con­cepts that I wouldn’t see in the class­room until senior year,” explained Mayo, “but when they were intro­duced in class, I already had hands-​​on experience.”

Con­versely, the class­room was the per­fect place for me to study basic pro­gram­ming and algo­rithms so that when I went on co-​​op, I had a firm base for learning how real-​​world appli­ca­tions are written, and how real com­pa­nies work as a team to solve problems.”

Mayo’s experiential-​​learning suc­cesses recently won him recog­ni­tion from North­eastern. In April, he was awarded the university’s William Jef­ferson Alcott Award for using his aca­d­emic training cre­atively to make a con­tri­bu­tion to society, and for demon­strating excel­lence throughout his co-​​op expe­ri­ences. It’s an honor he was proud to receive.

I’ve worked with a bunch of intel­li­gent stu­dents over the years,” Mayo said, “and just to be rec­og­nized at the top of the class is really some­thing to be proud of. It’s an honor.”