The pure logic of computers is what hooked Christian C. Ellis ’19.
“The output you get is based on what you put in. This led me to software development,” said Christian.
For his career, great input is also affecting his career path. “The early mentorship of faculty here at UMass Dartmouth helped shape me to be the developer I am,” he said.
He chose UMassD because it was local and everyone graduating was getting jobs. However, he discovered so much more. “Faculty members took me to meetings and put me in front of others who would be useful for my career. My advisors and professors are a team that build each other up.”
As an undergraduate, Christian received a number of opportunities to conduct research and create mobile apps for real-time projects. He created a traffic app for the UMass Dartmouth campus and collaborated with the UMassD’s Center for Women and Gender Studies to create a portal to access important resources. He then co-authored a paper and presented it at a Homeland Security conference. “Just being at that conference was a great experience,” he said. “It gave me the start of a great network.”
In summer 2019, thanks to connections made at the Homeland Security conference, he worked at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Lincoln Lab on a program to counter human trafficking through data mining and artificial intelligence. “MIT showed me the impact of using technology to help others,” he said. “There is a deeper feeling of satisfaction building software that is used to help others, rather than building software for profit.”
Christian also worked with faculty on a mobile apps development camp for middle school students. It was a one-week experience designed to break the stereotype that “STEM is nerdy and uncool.” Teaching the young students skills helped him as well. “You have to understand a concept at a whole other level to be able to share it with others.”
Now a graduate student at UMass Dartmouth, Christian has more opportunity to teach and learn from his research. “Research is important – it is always new,” he says. Currently, he participates in a U.S. Army project testing autonomous vehicles, artificial intelligence, and safety, which addresses his Ph.D. dissertation. But he points out that the input he gets from the faculty at UMass Dartmouth is feeding that output. “What sets this school apart is its faculty. They are incredibly smart, perform cutting-edge research, and are willing to help you. There are many opportunities for mentorship and working directly with professors.”