Nafis is from Norman, Oklahoma. Since he was young, he knew he wanted to be an engineer. He couldn’t choose a specific field until he joined Botball, a robotics competition, in middle school. Although his father, Dr. Mohammed Atiquzzaman, is a distinguished member of the OU Computer Science faculty, Nafis didn’t learn how to code until his involvement in Botball. His team won 1st place at the regional competition in 8th grade and 3rd place at the global competition in 10th grade. He worked with a team of CS all-stars who attended OU: Kevin Cotrone, Braden McDorman, Jeremy Rand, Marty Rand, and Jeffrey Terry. In order to pursue his education in CS and math, Nafis attended the Oklahoma School for Science and Mathematics. By doing so, he was able to take more advanced courses, such as Data Structures and Operating Systems. Many of these credits transferred to OU and helped him get ahead on his bachelor’s degree.
Hayley is a Linguistics Senior from Lake Zurich, Il., in the suburbs of Chicago. Her first introduction to computers was due to her father being a Computer Science teacher for elementary schools. However, she didn’t program until joining the University of Oklahoma. Hayley’s first interest in OU came through the special incentive to attract National Merit Scholars. Being a laureate, she came to tour the campus and shortly after decided to join the OU family through Honors College. It was a huge leap of faith from someone who has never even visited Oklahoma before.
Sudarshan is from Hyderabad in India. This city is the 4th most populous of the country and a highly regarded university hub. Sudarshan had his first experience with a computer in 8th grade through a class on DOS Commands. However, when the teacher was not around, students would use the machines to play Road Rash. He has always been good in Math and Science and has always wanted to be an engineer. In 10th grade, Sudarshan participated in a National Science fair and finished second, with a project on alternative fuel sources. After 12th grade, his interest in computers and how they work became so big that it was clear to him that he wanted to become a software engineer. After being selected through an entry exam, Sudarshan joined a top institution: Sreenidhi Institute of Science and Technology, affiliated to Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University as an Information Technology major.
Stephen is from Ardmore, OK. Like many of our students, the first contact he had with computer science was through his passion for video games growing up. But he did not know much about what goes on “behind the scenes.” His high school did not offer CS classes so until he became a freshman at OU, he had very little idea of what programming was. He did not think it could lead to create anything meaningful. His two brothers are also graduates from the College of Engineering and his father is a chemist. His road to CS had many turns but Stephen claims proudly he has always been a nerd and has always wanted to become an engineer.
Phil is from Alva, Oklahoma, a little town close the Kansas border and the panhandle. Growing up in this quiet community, he was involved in basketball and Track and Field all the way till the end of high school. Already showing versatility, Phil was also High School Speech State Champion and his favorite subject was History. His high school did not offer real Computer Science classes but he taught himself how to program with a little push from his father. As far as he remembers, his family always had a computer so naturally he got curious and wanted to learn how to make games. His father bought a basic book about programming and one about Visual Basic when Phil was in 6th grade. Since then, his path has been revealed to him: he would be a programmer.
Junjun is from a region in Northern China called Shanxi Province with coal mining being economically very important. Growing up in a rural community, her parents made sure to give her the opportunity to get a good education by sending her to the city school instead of her village one. She is very thankful for this, because not many children got this chance. She quickly discovered a love for Math and Physics. Junjun did not have any trouble solving problems. Since she is very young she has been wanting to be a teacher.
Braden is from Norman, OK. In 5th, grade, he got his first taste of Computer Science when he decided to program a video game with his father who had an introductory course on BASIC. Braden’s life changed forever then. In 6th grade he discovered Botball, a regional and international competition involving robots that have to be programmed to autonomously perform given tasks, and started to program in C.
Michael is from Midwest City, Oklahoma. His father is a software engineer and an overall big computer nerd who shared his passion with him really early on. As a child, Michael loved video games and liked to take apart his pokedex. He grew up wanting to break codes for the C.I.A. so he quickly enrolled in basic programming, the only CS class his high school offered. During his sophomore year, Michael was diagnosed with mitral valve regurgitation: a problem with his heart valves leaking blood which required an open heart surgery that left him partially paralyzed on the left hand.
Eleazar Leal Gonzalez
Eleazar is from Caracas, the capital of Venezuela. His father is a professor of Pharmacy at the Universidad Central de Venezuela and has a very strong love for books. Eleazar’s youth is therefore surrounded by books, literally. He remembers his father’s car full of books and when he would leave his backpack in the trunk after school, he would take advantage of it to start reading Don Quixote, The Three Musketeers or other classical novels. It is then not surprising that his first contact with Computer Science was through books. He was also very interested in specs of computers and comparing the different models.
Carmen was born in Germany and after living in Sweden and Colorado, moved to Norman in the 6th grade when her father became Professor with the Meteorology Department at the University of Oklahoma. Science was always loved in her family and since she was very young, she has been a very logical person. She really likes Mathematics and decided to take Computer classes in High School. Her Programming class quickly became her favorite one and she joined the Bot-Ball Team: a Robotics Club where robots from different high schools compete. Carmen worked on programming the robots and her team won first place in the regional competition.
Michael was born in the United States but spent his life in Madrid, Spain. His parents and his brother are all in the medical field but Michael was drawn to computers. He has always wondered what happened when you push the buttons. Michael has been naturally good in Math and Physics, which he considers good tools for Computer Science. He became very interested in Computer Science in preparatory school where he first learned to code. With this new knowledge, Michael designed a new database for his father’s job and created video games for himself.
Katie is from Oklahoma City, OK. After attending Bishop McGuinness High School, she joined OU where she is pursuing a B.S. in Mathematics with minors in Spanish and Computer Science. Her mother, who graduated from SWOSU with a degree in Computer Science and is a computer programmer, encouraged Katie to take Intro to Computer Programming. Katie’s father is an Electrical Engineering graduate from OSU. It seems evident that science and mathematics are a strong suit in the Trivitt household; Katie grew up participating in science fairs and other engineering hobbies.
Mikael is from Saint Marcel d’Urfé, a small French town of only 300 inhabitants. His mother being an accountant and his father a mechanic, he naturally grew up loving math and engineering. While he was in middle school, Mikael’s parents got a computer and he got very curious on how it works and how to fix it. By 16, he had taught himself how to program in C and became a Science major in high school. He discovered Computer Science while studying System Engineering in an Institut Universitaire Technologique (a mix between computer and robotics) and then specialized in Software Engineering and Computer Systems at ISIMA.
Xiaodi is from the Henan province in the center of China, considered the birthplace of the Chinese civilization. He has always been interested in engineering and geography. Xiaodi earned a B.S. in Survey and Mapping Engineering from Shanghai University. His first experience in Computer Science was during this program when he took a class on Visual Basic and Imaging Processing. After completing his B.S., Xiaodi was not ready to be out of school and wanted to experience a different lifestyle so he applied to American M.S. programs in Geographic Information Systems.
Lauren grew up in Celina, TX, just north of Frisco. She has always been self-driven, ambitious, and dedicated. These traits have been on display with her involvement in OU cheerleading and in her studies. She has always loved and succeeded in mathematics and was interested in engineering. Lauren first declared pre-physical therapy as a major before switching to computer science with a minor in math.
Paige is from Mansfield, TX near the DFW metroplex. Her father is an autodidact when it comes to coding and software engineering and his switch from a career in ministries to one as a successful software engineer made quite an impression on young Paige who used to watch him code. In high school she joined the Computer Applications Team and participated in the University Interscholastic League where she won the district and regional competition.
Ali was born in Tehran, Iran where he lived until moving to Tulsa where he attended Tulsa Union High School. He has always loved playing with electronics and engineering devices since he was four years old. In middle school he joined the Robotics and Electronic Club. In high school Ali went on to join the First Robotics Club which won the Dallas Regional and led him to programming.
Joseph is from Weatherford, Oklahoma but was born in Ghana where he lived until coming to the U.S. at age nine when his father got the opportunity to pursue a Ph.D. at Syracuse, NY. His background is very multicultural as his father is from Ghana and his mother from Russia. Both his parents have a background in engineering and stressed the importance of education to Joseph. As a young child, Joseph loved going to Internet cafés with his brother and became fascinated by computers.
Mamta is from the Indian province of Rajasthan, a hill station in the north-west part of the country. When she was a little girl, Mamta dreamt of becoming a medical doctor. She inherited a love for mathematics from her dad and was so talented in computer science that after solving many problems for her teachers, they encouraged her to pursue engineering.
Zack is from Tulsa, Oklahoma, where he attended Booker T. Washington High School and earned the International Baccalaureate Diploma. He always knew he would study engineering, but did not know what type. When he was twelve years old, his neighbor showed him how to build a computer using different hardware components; it ignited a true fascination for Zachary.
Thibault is from Paris, France. After studying in California as a 6th grader, he grew up wanting to come to the U.S. to study. After finishing Preparatory School Thibault was interested in Computer Science and chose to join ISIMA, a French Engineering school, because of the amazing opportunity it offers: the possibility to get 2 M.S. degrees in Computer Science, one from ISIMA and one from The University of Oklahoma.
David is from Tulsa, Oklahoma, where he took AP classes in computer programming at Jenks High School and at the Tulsa Technology Center. Although David cannot recall exactly what attracted him to Computer Science he remembers saving his money for two years in middle school to buy a computer. After he got his computer he started to teach himself QBasic, C, and C++.
Maryam is from Iran where she obtained a B.S. in Math and M.S. in Industrial Engineering. She was recognized there as one of the most talented students of her university. Maryam is a recipient of the Computer Science graduate scholarship and CS fellowship. She is a research assistant for Dr. Weaver and works on translating user interaction with visualization to natural language; this work is also part of her dissertation. Maryam always knew she wanted to be an engineer of some sort.
Nicole is from Edmond, OK. She is a Distinguished Scholar, the recipient of a FedEx scholarship and a Multicultural Engineering Program scholarship. She has always loved technology and was able to assemble her Sega video system at age three. At the age of eight an online game called Neopets encouraged her to work on HTTML. In high school Nicole was part of the Edmond Memorial HTTML team who won the State competition and placed 13th in the nation. She also enjoyed taking AP Programming in high school. She is currently a sophomore in Computer Science, minoring in Japanese.
Youming grew up in Tulsa, Oklahoma after coming to the U.S. from China at the age of eleven. He is a National Merit Scholar, a Mutlticultural Engineering Program scholarship recipient, and he is on the President’s honor roll. He has always been interested in technology and engineering, but was unsure of the route he wanted to take. In high school Youming enjoyed Math classes and took AP Programming (Introduction to Java) which eventually led him to pursue a degree in Computer Science.
Shiblee joined the University of Oklahoma after completing his B.S. in Computer Science in his home country of Bangladesh. As a child, he received a programmable device as a gift that he enjoyed playing with.
Shiblee enjoys the fact that CS is a relatively small department where everybody knows and is connected to each other. The Sooner spirit made him feel special – he felt that he belonged and was a Sooner.
Caleb left his native Arkansas after receiving a National Merit Scholarship to join OU School of Computer Science as an undergraduate student. As a kid, he was interested in his older brother’s video games. His dad was prompt to recognize Caleb’s curiosity and introduced him to a programmer that taught him Q Basic.
Joel is from Mustang, OK and has enjoyed working with computers his whole life. He is an Oklahoma Regents Scholar and a member of the Integrity Council. However, he didn’t take any programming class prior to joining OU, where he enrolled in Computer Science as a Minor.