This spring, each department in the University of Arizona's College of Science nominated an outstanding senior who went above and beyond during their time as a Wildcat. We are pleased to share their stories as they reflect on their time at UArizona. Next up in the senior spotlight series is Naomi Nguyen.
Hometown: Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Degree: Computer Science
College of Science: Why did you choose your area of study?
Naomi: I chose computer science because I enjoyed solving math problems and wanted to apply my math skills in the technology field. I was uncertain about my decision at first because of my little exposure to computer science before college. But after the first semester, I knew it was the right choice. In the first semester at UA, I had CSC 110 with professor Ben Dicken. Throughout CSC 110, I enjoyed both the frustration when I had to spend hours debugging and the excitement when I realized the logic behind a problem, which was similar to my experience with math. I also participated in a variety of events offered by the Department of Computer Science such as the Women's Hackathon and the Game Development Camp, which introduced me to the problems and opportunities within computer science!
COS: Tell us about a class or research project you really enjoyed.
Naomi: After my first year at UA, I spent my entire summer working at the Solar Lab. Back then, we would use a Computer Aided Design (CAD) program to manually transform the inputs, which usually took about one week. My lab suggested that I could apply my computer science knowledge to help shorten this labor intensive process. With my freshly gained knowledge in CSC 110, CSC 120, and MATH 313, I developed a script in Matlab and Python, applying some linear algebra, to automate the whole process, which reduced the processing time to 30 seconds and tripled our production rate. I learnt a lot throughout the summer working on that project, and I was glad to see how I could apply what I learnt in class to the real world.
COS: What is one specific memory from your time at UA that you'll cherish forever?
Naomi: During my first year at UA, I participated in HackArizona. My friends and I got together and tried to build an app called Flushies, which aimed to help users locate and review public bathrooms on campus. It was our first hackathon, and we went into the game with a lot of confusion. The app was quite an ambitious project for us who only finished CSC 110, the introduction class. We stayed up all night, surviving by drinking cans after cans of energy drinks and eating packages of fruit snacks delivered by HackArizona. We went to different rooms of the Gould-Simpson building, collecting the freebies from the tech companies; the whole Gould-Simpson building was used for the event. In the end after roughly 24 hours, we managed to implement the user interface of the app, which was enough to demonstrate our idea in front of the judges. To our surprise, we won the "Best Beginner Hack" award. To this day, the memory I had during HackArizona has inspired me through my pursuit of computer science.
COS: What is next for you after graduation?
Naomi: This summer, I will join Oracle in Redwood City as a software engineer intern. After that, I will come back to UA to complete my M.S in Statistics and Data Science.