Florian Helff – M.S. in Computer Science
Florian is from Hamm, Germany, a town located in the Ruhr region by Dortmund and Koln. He enjoyed his childhood dedicated to soccer until he got injured. His mother worked for a courthouse and his father is a P.E. teacher. At first glance, nothing destined Florian to turn to computer science. However, he has always loved puzzles, logic games, and science subjects. Florian also fell in love with chess in Middle school. Although he enjoyed Math and Physics, he considered these subjects to be a bit “dry.” Therefore, when his high school gave him the opportunity to take a computer science class, he jumped on it!
After high school, Florian had to fulfill his country’s civil service duties. He spent 9 months working in retirement home specialized in aging people with addictions. Although the job was stressful, Florian describes the experience as interesting. Following this, Florian started his undergraduate degree in Computer Science with a minor in Economy at the University of Paderborn. He was selected as one out of 12 Siemens Scholarship recipients in the whole country of Germany. This prestigious program allowed him to graduate on an accelerated track and with extra training and internships. He was also able to come to OU as an exchange student his senior year for a semester.
This experience was life changing for Florian. He met his now fiancée, enjoyed the campus and fell in love with football. Consequently, after going back home, during his last semester in Paderborn, Florian started planning his return to Norman. His research interests matched the research of one of our professors who actually needed a research assistant: Dr. Gruenwald. He contacted her, applied and was accepted with a graduate assistant position as a bonus. Florian loves the campus and the CS program. One of the things that really attracted him to come back was the many research opportunities that are offered to students. Moreover, the professors are always available to meet with students. His favorite classes are CS 5513 Advanced Database Management and CS 5593 Data Mining with Dr. Gruenwald, because they are linked to his research.
Florian did not skip a beat when he started his M.S. program. He created the OU Chess Club and now serves as their president. He also regularly attends CSIP meetings and Graduate College workshops and volunteers for many CS sponsored events. He was for example the emcee for our CS Banquet in April 2016. He has been involved in promoting chess with the City of Norman to schools and other younger audiences. Florian also volunteers for a multidisciplinary project on campus. He has been consulting and developing a new database system management system for the Biology and Chemistry departments to move away from Excel. The professors leading this effort have been recognized by the White House which makes Florian feel really great about this project. His research assistantship is centered on mobile cloud databases and query optimization. More specifically, he focuses on the weighed sum algorithms and how they apply to query optimization. This subject fascinates Florian who is also studying it for his thesis that he will defend in December 2016. Moreover, he has already published 2 papers about it and is being reviewed for a third one.
With his graduation just around the corner, Florian would like to pursue a career as a consultant to optimize companies, similarly to what he did with the Biology and Chemistry departments. His favorite spot to do so would be Seattle.
When Florian has five minutes, he enjoys European soccer, American football, playing chess, traveling, going to musical events, and preparing his upcoming wedding.