Short Feature with Football Senior Devin Cortese

Devin with his fellow senior football teammates at at Pittsburgh Penguins hockey game.
Devin with his fellow senior football teammates at at Pittsburgh Penguins hockey game.

Senior Devin Cortese, a statistics and machine learning major from Orlando, Florida, answers a few questions about student life at Carnegie Mellon, what he's excited for as his college career comes to a close, why he chose his major, and what internships influenced his career decisions.

1. What do you enjoy about campus life?

The best part about campus life is Carnival. After two long semesters of hard work, it is great to get some time off to enjoy some time with friends before the start of summer.

2. What do you get involved in outside of football?

Outside of football and previously track, I am in the Tartan Sports Analytics Club. I have also participated in data science competitions on campus such as the Tartan Data Science Cup.

3. Tell us about internships you've had.

I have had two internships in Pittsburgh. In the summer of 2016, I worked for Othot, a startup that provides data science solutions to its customers. During my time with Othot, I worked on many different projects such as debugging my co-workers code or even developing my own algorithms and implementing them into the company's platform. In the summer of 2017, I worked for First National Bank as a Data Governance intern. I worked with customer data and assured it was correctly flowing through the pipeline, so it could be deployed to customers for reference. I also assisted the data science team in converting their Python models to R models. From my experience with these internships, I learned that I would like to work for a larger company, and not for a bank. My minimal experience with the data science teams made me realize that I want to be working directly in this field or as a machine learning engineer.

4. What are you excited about as your college career comes to a close?

I am still searching for a job for after graduation. However, after learning so much during my internships, I am really excited to see what my future employer has to offer. I am excited, and also nervous, to leave my comfort zone in and out of the workplace to gain new knowledge and experience. It would also be exciting to experience a new city/home, but I would not mind staying in Pittsburgh.

5. Why did you select your course of study – what class have you enjoyed the most?

I came into CMU wanting to be an electrical/computer engineer, knowing that I loved computers and enjoyed physics. Long story short, I lost interest while taking the intro course, but I found out that I really enjoyed coding. I later discovered that CMU was offering a new major, statistics and machine learning, which requires a few computer science courses, but since I declared my major at the end of freshman year, I decided to play it safe and declare statistics. It turned out to be a great decision. The statistics department has helped me find my passion, while exposing me to many different job opportunities. It is very difficult to choose a favorite class. I enjoyed a few of my core classes which were tough but rewarding, such as Modern Regression and Advanced Methods in Data Analysis. I also loved Astrostatistics. My most rewarding and toughest course however was the infamous 15-112: Fundamentals of Programming and Computer Science. I would not have the experience and problem solving skills currently if it weren't for that course.

6. What class would you recommended as a MUST TAKE class at CMU?

As mentioned previously, if you are a technical major, 15-112 is a must. While it is extremely difficult, it is also extremely rewarding. Your problem solving skills will be polished and you will have a unique way of thinking by the end of the course.

7. What do you like about Pittsburgh?

Pittsburgh is a phenomenal college city. There are so many college students around at night, which leaves plenty of opportunity to meet new people. It is rare that I have been bored in my four years of living in Pittsburgh. If you don't have plans on the weekend, you can always go downtown and find something to do, that might be the best part.