Spotlight – Sean Smith

Photo by Christian Cole
Photo by Christian Cole

Boston University Computer Science student Sean Smith (CAS/GRS’17) recently sat down with BUCS to give us a glimpse into his time at the University and how he came to be interested in computer science.

Since taking a programming class in high school, Sean has been interested in computer science. He said the ability to not only create programs, but to also impact a lot of people is what drew him to the subject. “I can monitor all the incoming requests for the website and apps that I build,” Sean said, “I see people accessing it from Bangladesh, the Philippines, and all over the world.”

In choosing where to pursue his college education, Sean said he was attracted to BU’s flexibility to choose different majors, the smaller class sizes, and the focus on research. Sean was particularly intrigued on Accepted Students Day by a lecture given by Professor Wayne Snyder about game theory.

Since starting at BU, Sean has amassed extensive internship and leadership experiences in a variety of settings. In the past three summers, Sean held internships at ActivePrime, AthenaHealth and Amazon. Regarding his work experience, Sean said he enjoys opportunity to cross the gap between what he learns in school and how to apply that knowledge in an industry setting. “I get to bring new ideas from academia to industry and take the best ideas back to academia.”

Here at BU, Sean is the President of BUILDS – Boston University’s student-run hackspace. Through BUILDS, Sean has helped create a space that provides students with tools and resources for collaborative tech projects. BUILDS also worked with MakeBU to organize Boston Hacks, one of the largest hackathons in the city. In addition to local projects, BUILDS members have traveled the globe taking place in High Performance Computing competitions in Germany, China, and Salt Lake City in the past year alone.

In speaking about his BUCS education, Sean said that CS 410 (Advanced Software Systems) and 552 (Introduction to Operating Systems) with Professor Rich West have helped him build foundation and understand the abstraction above it. Sean is currently a TA for CS 558 (Computer Network Security). He was also the CA for CS 112 (Introduction to Computer Science 2) for three semesters and CA for CS 210 (Computer Systems) for one semester.

On the research front, Sean is working with Professor Sharon Goldberg on network security. His research focuses on ways of rerouting traffic on the internet. He also took part in UROP (Undergraduate Research Program) for three semesters with Professor West to build an Autonomous Quadcopter that intelligently navigates itself indoors.

When asked about advice for other students, Sean recommended engaging with faculty and forming a connection with them outside of academics. He also said that doing projects on your own is equally as important as academics to show companies that you are passionate about CS both in and out of the classroom. “People I know that work on projects in their own time,” Sean said, “are working at the best companies now.”

Sean will be working full time for the AWS Batch Team at Amazon in Seattle in August after graduating with his BA and MS degrees in Computer Science.

To learn more about Sean, check out his website: seanssmith.com.

If you know of a student who you think should be featured in our next BU CS Student Spotlight, please email us at cs@bu.edu.

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