BERRY STORIES

Real-world training led to software engineering consulting

Majoring in mathematics with a computer science concentration took Alan Young ’17 on a journey of real-world training and creative development during his time at Berry. This preparation led to a summer internship with ImagineX Consulting, a business and technology consulting firm, and then a job offer before graduation.

When he arrived at Berry as a freshman, Alan had not settled on a major, but his first calculus and computer science courses quickly convinced him that mathematics was the right path. He also concentrated in computer science and minored in creative technologies after taking a formative physical computing course with Associate Professor of Mathematics and Computer Science Nadeem Hamid, an influential mentor. “Dr. Hamid offered constant advice and assistance throughout my studies, as well as during my job search,” Alan says.

“Alan excelled in all his computer science courses and became well-versed in multiple programming language paradigms,” Dr. Hamid says. “Many of our courses require students to work on projects in groups, and Alan developed his own gentle but effective method of contributing his opinion and effort in a group setting, and being able to lead the group in a successful direction.”

Dr. Hamid adds that rigorous computer science courses and research opportunities with faculty laid the foundation for Alan’s off-campus summer research and professional experience: “As a research assistant, Alan worked on a project with me to help develop and test a Java library for performing automated schema analysis and data binding of web data from arbitrary sources.”

Alan made strategic connections while attending a job fair at Atlanta Tech Village with Zane Cochran, clinical instructor of creative technologies at Berry. He met the team at ImagineX Consulting and landed an internship to build an iOS application to help manage their company rewards system.

Outside of his academic studies, Alan participated in Berry’s LifeWorks program, gaining hands-on experience as a student in the Berry Information Technology Students (BITS) program — first as a technician and eventually as a team lead helping other students with technical difficulties at the IT help desk.

Today, Alan is a cloud and software engineering consultant at ImagineX Consulting, with high hopes for his future in software development. “Building something new and interesting to help people accomplish more has always interested me, and technology changes so quickly that I am always learning something new,” Alan says.

Reflecting on his Berry experience, Alan adds, “Don’t be afraid to get to know your professors. Berry is a small school, and in your major, you will see the same professors a lot. Participate in their extracurricular events … Build meaningful relationships that will help and support you in your time at and after college.”

An environmental trailblazer in California

As the assistant deputy director for climate and energy at the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE), Angie Lottes ’09 plays a pivotal role in fighting catastrophic wildfires on the West Coast. A love for the natural world, intellectual drive and work opportunities at Berry laid the foundation to this challenging—and rewarding—career.

When Angie began her freshman year at Berry, she started off in biology. But she soon discovered her interests more closely aligned with environmental science and tailored her courses to pursuits that would expose her to ecological studies and concerns. While diving into academic work, Angie got hands-on experience in ongoing campus endeavors like the Longleaf Pine Project, which seeks to re-establish a fire-maintained Mountain Longleaf ecosystem. She participated in the maintenance of frequent controlled (prescribed) burns that reduce the likelihood of wildfires in managed areas.

“For me, having classes on the edge of a huge native forest and fire ecology lab was transformational,” Angie says. “In addition to learning technical skills that I could use in future jobs like how to mix and spray herbicide, scratch fire lines, fill and use a drip torch, or prepare solutions for lab experiments, I also observed important processes like preparing prescribed fire plans and other management processes. This was useful in applying for jobs after graduation in terms of understanding opportunities and filling my resume, and also in understanding what work in the land management sector would entail.”

Professor of Biology Martin Cipollini, who championed Angie’s career interests, supervised her work on the Longleaf Pine Project and the prescribed burn team. “Angie is a great person and was instrumental in helping me get my Longleaf Pine Project off to a good start,” he says. “She was really enthusiastic and a hard worker in the field.”

After graduating from Berry, Angie worked on prescribed fire crews with the Nature Conservancy and earned a master’s degree in environmental systems from Humboldt State University. Additional studies and work with the Watershed Research and Training Center in California took her to the next level and her role as an environmental steward with CAL FIRE.

Angie offers advice for future Berry students: “Get out and travel. Not only will it help you interact better with the world, it may make you appreciate your Berry experience even more.”

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