Since its founding at Texas A&M University 44 years ago, Upsilon Pi Epsilon (UPE) has remained the only international honor society in the Computing and Information Disciplines. UPE has challenging requirements for admission such as a junior ranking with a 3.5 GPA in the major. Upholding the ideals of all UPE chapters, UPE at UCLA is dedicated to educating others about the relatively young yet immensely impactful subject of Computing Sciences in order to instill in our generation the motivation and skills to create worldly changes with this new knowledge.

Allen Wu is the Internal Vice President at UCLA’s UPE, and Campus Circle had the opportunity to interview him.

Please give us an insight of what you do for UPE.

I ran for Internal Vice President because I wanted to get more involved in UPE in terms of helping coordinate events and running the initiation process among other duties without dealing with the external stuff. I am officially in charge of everything to do with candidate induction (getting the list of eligible students from counselors, emailing invites, keeping track of candidates’ progress and organizing the banquet).

UPE has so many competitions in addition to infosessions. Do you participate in most of the competitions?

Yes, and my favorite competition was the Facebook SoCal Hackathon a month or two ago. My team designed a web collaboration tool and won first place.

How did you decide on Computer Science as your educational and career goal?

I first started out as a Computer Science and Engineering major at UCLA because I was interested in the software and hardware aspects of computers. After a year or two, I became more interested in Computer Science rather than Electrical Engineering. I’m still not 100-percent sure of what my career path will be in the future though. I do know that I will not pursue a Masters or PhD program because after years of doing research, I realized that I’m actually not too fascinated with research.

What research did you do?

I did research for the UCLA Medical Imaging Informatics Group during the summer after my first year. During my second year, I committed myself to research for Symantec. And then, the summer after my second year, I worked at Sandia in the DNA sequencing department. Finally, by then, I came to terms with the fact that research is not my main interest.

So right now, are you doing something you really enjoy?

Currently, I’m working at Microsoft as a Software Development Engineering Intern, and I really like the industry. Microsoft is truly one of the top companies in the software industry as I’ve come to first-handedly experience its work culture. Because Microsoft is one of the top companies in the software industry, being a part of their team requires discipline. For example, in order to soak up all the exposure that the company offers me, the rate at which I have to learn how things work and the hands-on activities is unbelievably high. Here, I not only apply what I learned in my classes but also must figure out ways to bring ideas in my textbooks and formulas to form hardware and technology. Its fast-paced culture is tough to assimilate into, but once you find yourself a step into it, the excitement is rewarding and thrilling, especially for a young professional.

How do you see Computer Science in the future?

Computer Science will dive into a very promising future because it has integrated itself into our lives in every way possible. The main thing that some people forget is that aside from the technology leaders like Microsoft, Google and Amazon, Computer Science shows up in a much larger diversity of places. Since my experiences of working in Bioinformatics, Imaging Technology and DNA sequencing, I have come to think it is pretty obvious that Computer Science will emerge as the basis of the future of health care amongst numerous other fields.

Do you have any advice for others who pursuing careers in Computer Sciences?

My advice for anyone in the Computer Sciences fields is to be aggressive in taking advantage of the opportunities in CS. You can do research in almost any other field with a CS background, and since everyone is interested in different areas, you will meet many people who can help you find your place in any area. You will even find people who do research where no one else has touched on. Also, you must enjoy being a part of a fast-paced industry. Lastly, what I have noticed is that more than 80 percent of what you do in the industry is what you learn on the job. What you learned from a theoretical CS degree (the CS program here at UCLA is pretty theoretical) just teaches you foundational methods.

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