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Computer Science Graduate Student
University of California, Los Angeles

My name is Emanuel. I am a graduate student in computer science at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). I am also an intern at IBM Research doing mobile development.

I research wireless health, networking, and developing software to help people with disabilities. I work with a research groups at UCLA that modify existing products in order to help people with various disabilities. Some of these products involve hardware modifications, while other products are applications that can be installed on smart phones.

What did you do before beginning graduate school?

Before beginning my PhD work, I earned both master’s and bachelor’s degrees in computer science from UCLA. As an undergraduate, I had several internships, including a research internship at UCLA and one at the NASA Dryton Flight Research Center. After I earned my master’s degree, I worked at Cisco Systems as a software engineer. In that position, I added functionality to Cisco’s existing router platforms.

Did your disability make studying computing difficult?

I have cerebral palsy, which impairs my mobility. I am only able to use my right hand, and I usually program using two or three fingers. When I’m typing documents or email messages, I often use Dragon Naturally Speaking, a voice dictation program. The program isn’t perfect, though; I can’t use it when I’m programming or when my allergies act up and affect the quality of my voice.

One reason I’ve pursued a career in computing is because it allows me to develop software and help other individuals despite my physical disability. I am able to mentor other students both online and on campus regarding computer adaptive technology. I am also currently developing an application to help individuals with disabilities.

What can I do while I’m in high school if I want to pursue a career in computing?

High school students who are interested in computing can get ready for a career in computing by learning programming languages and looking for internship opportunities. Be prepared to spend time and effort to be successful in your computing career! In order to write good code, you need to be clear and precise throughout its development. When learning about computing, it is important to have patience and the ability to work with others.

Why should I study computing?

There are many job opportunities in computing. Each job may require particular qualifications, so it is important to gain skills and learn about technology to be successful on the job market.

Computing is a highly rewarding field that requires patience and dedication. Being in the computer field is not just knowing how to use a computer or playing games—it is about knowing how to manipulate the computer to solve problems and develop software.

August 8 2012