Seattle Campus News

Blog | December 11, 2013

MS Computer Science ALIGN Student Profiles

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Are you looking to break into the Pacific Northwest’s innovative and growing Tech Industry? Northeastern University – Seattle’s Master of Science in Computer Science ALIGN program gives you the fundamentals to jump start your career. Look at these two student profiles and you can get a better sense of our current students. 

STEPHEN COURT
Aerospace mechanical design engineer
Husband and proud father of two children  
ALIGN MS Computer Science ’15

Stephen Court’s mechanical design engineering resumé began with his bachelor degree in automotive engineering and progressed to a rich and successful career in the aerospace industry. Originally recruited away from his home in England by Boeing in 1996, Steve advanced from design engineer at Boeing to senior management positions in several organizations, including CTO/Director of Engineering at Bucher Aerospace Corporation. Yet even with all his career accomplishments, Steve’s long-standing interest in computer science, the cutting-edge opportunities it offered, and the encouragement of many friends working in the industry prompted him to investigate the credentials he needed to enter the field.

Initially, Steve thought he would need to complete a separate undergraduate degree in computer science. As a husband, a father, and a contributor to the family’s finances, he also knew that was not an option—either from the standpoint of time or financial commitment.  There did not appear to be any viable educational options. Then he found the Northeastern University MS in Computer Science ALIGN Program. 

“The program was perfect for my situation. My engineering background gave me the quantitative skills I needed to be accepted in the program. The thing that sealed the deal for me was Northeastern’s co-op. The combination of graduate-level education from a highly rated school, plus the real-world experience of the co-op segment, will make me a well-prepared and attractive proposition for employers.  I will gain valuable professional contacts and have the opportunity to prove myself in a working environment before the end of the program. Particularly as a newcomer to the industry, all of this will be a significant advantage. Plus, during my co-op I’ll be earning a salary which will help underwrite my investment.”

Steve has not encountered any hurdles regarding the existing level of computer science knowledge required to successfully enter the program.  “The integrated foundation courses are entirely appropriate for someone with my quantitative training, and are instilling the fundamental knowledge I need to successfully progress in computer science.  It’s fun and challenging but not overwhelming.”  He also shares that the faculty are supportive and, as working professionals in the industry, they provide real insights into the field.

Steve has identified several possible paths to augment his career.  These range from combining his previous mechanical engineering and management background with computer science and software engineering, to pursuing software engineering options at any one of the major players right in Seattle. He is looking forward to fully exploring the possibilities as the program progresses. It is very clear to him that “there is a high demand in the field for qualified individuals and there is a host of intriguing opportunities.” 

 

MILES GILLIS
BA Linguistics ’12, Northeastern University
Relocation to Seattle to pursue a passion
ALIGN MS Computer Science ’15 

Miles Gillis always loved language. Throughout his secondary education he excelled in those courses, enjoying the challenge of deciphering the systems they were based upon and mastering their use. That ultimately led him to major in linguistics at Northeastern University and to secure a job teaching ESL after graduation.  Yet while he enjoyed both his major and the teaching experience, he discovered it wasn’t a passion.  He wanted more.  He wanted a career in computer science. 

The computer science courses he had taken in high school were the foundation of his interest.  Programming presented the same challenges that had drawn him to language studies—learning a system that allows you to communicate and solve problems.  Still, like many who hope to enter the field but lack an appropriate background, Miles felt he would have to “do something big to get a job in the industry.”  He was concerned that would mean earning a separate undergraduate degree in computer science. So when he learned about the MS in Computer Science ALIGN Program through Northeastern University–Seattle, he knew he had found his path. He applied to the program and was accepted.

Miles’s only hesitation about enrolling in the program was relocating.  The 3,000-mile move from Boston to Seattle was a major decision.  But when he weighed the advantages, “the ALIGN program was too good to pass up!”  He had experienced the caliber of Northeastern academics and the value of the co-op experiences, so he knew he would not just be earning a degree; it would be “a degree and a resumé.” To have the opportunity to study and work in the heart of a major technology belt made Northeastern University–Seattle what Miles describes as “the Trifecta: degree, co-op, location.” Any hesitation about relocating disappeared.

Miles has not settled on the specific concentration for his degree since the options in the industry are so broad. “It’s almost overwhelming at first.  That’s why this program is so great.  It helps you focus.”  At this point, he knows that network security is exciting; database design and management is fascinating. Miles also knows that the ALIGN Program has opened the door for him to pursue his passion, no matter where his journey takes him.

Learn more the MS Computer Science ALIGN Program

 

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