Major Mondays: Computer Science

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An interview with Henley Sartin ’22, Computer Science major.

How did you pick your major?

So, I picked my major because I really liked CS5(Mudd’s Intro to CS Course)Then I took through CS70 and I kind of just fell in love with it and that kind of solidified my decision. I really enjoyed pair programming so after I took CS70 I was really like “Oh my gosh, I love this, it’s so much fun” so I picked computer science.

What was your favorite major class?

I’m really enjoying PLs (Programming Languages) right now, which is CS131. The class is  really interesting and I’ve been pair programming for most of the homework assignments.  I think that’s really the secret sauce for me — pair programming. I think it’s just super enjoyable  and really a great way for me to learn.

What was your favorite non major class?

Probably Global Environmental Politics with Prof Steinberg. That’s one of the on-campus humanities classes I’ve taken. It’s just a super interesting class. I love Prof Steinberg and I love thinking about the environment and politics. I thought that was really fun.  I’ve taken a lot of classes with Prof Steinberg and he’s also my HSA advisor. I really just enjoy all of his classes but that one in particular was probably my favorite.

What is one moment in your Mudd experience that stands out?

My entire freshman year stood out in different ways. I don’t know if that makes any sense but there were times my freshman year where I just really felt like a part of the community and welcomed. A lot of that was related to my dorm community. I live in West dorm  and being able to get help from upperclassmen on homework and working with other students is a big aspect of the community. It was a really beneficial experience as a whole. I honestly couldn’t pinpoint an exact moment because I’ve had so many good moments at Harvey Mudd. 

What most surprised you about your major?

I didn’t realize when I signed up for the major, but there is a wide breadth of topics included in the computer science curriculum.  For instance with CS 105: Computer Systems, I developed an understanding all the way down to the nitty gritty of what the ones and zeros are doing and machine code.  It was totally different than what I thought it was going to be coming into Harvey Mudd. That’s probably what surprised me the most.

How have you explored the real-life applications of your major at Mudd?

I ended up doing a Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) at the Colorado School of Mines a couple summers ago. There I was, using machine learning in Python to help analyze materials science data. That doctoral team was working on trying to predict… in lattice thermal conductivity. I thought it was really cool to use all of my skills that I learned in all of my Core classes and then use machine learning and my computer science skills to kind of tie all that together, understand what was going on and code for that.

This past summer I did an internship where I helped code PowerShell for email servers of the Tennessee Valley Authority, so I’ve been able to see the IT side of computer science because I handled tickets and customers as well as coding to help solve some of those problems. My Clinic project is building a school search tool for the LA Unified School District, and I’m project managing that. That’s been really interesting as well. Understanding the computer science part makes the communication aspect easier. The hardest part of clinic is definitely talking to the liaisons, thus being able to understand all the technical aspect of the job while also being able to know how to talk about the project in understandable language has been really helpful as well.

What are your plans for after graduation?

My internship this summer has the potential of turning into a full time job. It’s exciting! I don’t know if that’s exactly what I want to do, but I’m excited about that potential. It would also give me the chance to move back home, which is an added bonus. Figuring out a career when you graduate is definitely something that is super hard. I’m really thankful I’ve had all of these experiences that have given me the chance to be stable when I graduate. I don’t have to feel like I’m scrambling to find a job. That’s definitely something which I think is helpful about the computer science degree, is that your skills are able to be applied to pretty much any type of job. They always need technical people who know how to code, in pretty much any field. I know I have a lot of options out there in the future too, so I’m looking forward to that.