The Flip Side of Computer Science and Engineering

Robert Jackson '18 (ME)

If you think all engineering and computer science students are too focused on their studies — too busy to “have a life” — think again. From drag racing to singing to playing the cello to community outreach, our students are busting stereotypes and redefining cool.

Robert Jackson ’18 (ME)

Growing up in Los Angeles, Robert Jackson raced remote-control cars and spent countless hours sanding, painting and building plastic models. At USD, he played football for two years. “I started out as a computer science major, but my friends said based on my hobbies I should be a mechanical engineer.”

Jackson embraced the suggestion and graduated in May. As part of the SAE Baja team, Jackson helped design and build this year’s entry for the international competition in Portland, Oregon. “It took every single thing we learned as mechanical engineers and compiled it into one project,” he says.

Jackson’s job as a student technician in USD’s IT department ultimately led him to Google, where he now works as a support analyst. “People I come across say I’m not a typical engineer. I play sports, I have hobbies and I have a social life,” he says. “But you can’t just live in a bubble. It’s great to branch out and experience different things.”

Daniel Myers ’18 (CS, Music)

“The story my parents like to tell is that I came out of the womb humming,” says Daniel Myers, 25. “I was always putting on shows with costumes and all sorts of fun props and songs. Always songs.” There were also robotics and photography and film and puzzles. He solved them and created them, which all led to a career in computer science.

Myers channeled his passions into a double major in computer science and music, and is now pursuing an MS in cybersecurity engineering at USD. He practiced and performed with the Choral Scholars on and off campus, while also interning as a software engineer.

He now works at Fuse Integration, where he hopes to continue to merge his talents through the applications he develops. “There have been so many ties that I’ve been able to find already,” he says. “If they’re not in a company that already exists, perhaps I’ll create it myself.”

Christina Kozlovsky ‘20 (ME)

Christina Kozlovsky, a mechanical engineering major with minors in computer science and math, joyfully lends her soprano to the Choral Scholars and Founders Chapel choirs at USD. “Music makes me a more holistic engineer,” she says. “It gives me a creative outlet and helps bring people together. There are great opportunities here because of the Changemaker campus. We are working as a whole community to better the lives of the people around us.”

Kozlovsky, 20, fills every inch of her calendar with activity. “Engineering has always been about the human side,” she says. “Even in high school, I wanted to be an engineer who helped people, to directly impact somebody’s life in a positive way.” She already is. Along with fellow student Cecilia Barnhill and several professors, Kozlovsky is involved in developing USD’s Engineering Exchange for Social Justice (ExSJ) through a grant from the Changemaker hub. “The idea is having engineers in college use our skills to actually better somebody’s life,” she says. “We’re aiming more toward the underserved communities. We want to help them thrive, to help them access the same opportunities as everyone else.”

Cecilia Barnhill ‘20 (CS)

“There are so many things I love to do,” says Cecilia Barnhill, a captivating sophomore from Austin, Texas. “A lot of them just involve trying to do good.” How does Barnhill, 20, fit all her activities, classes, lessons and work into a crammed honors track academic schedule that has her double majoring in computer science and music, with minors in Spanish and math?

“I’ve played cello since I was three. Music is an amazing way to communicate,” she says. “It crosses so many boundaries.” In addition to performing in small ensembles and larger orchestras, Barnhill tutors high school math students, teaches a weekly math lesson at a local elementary school and is working alongside Kozlovsky at the Engineering Exchange for Social Justice. “I think USD does an amazing job getting people involved, but I want to boost that in the engineering school,” she says. “I’d really like to connect with the people that I’m trying to effect change for.”

by Karen Gross

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