Junior Lizzy Thrasher, a double major in electrical and computer engineering and psychology from Rochester, N.Y., answers a few questions about student life at Carnegie Mellon, talks about her internships, what she's excited for during spring semester, and what classes have impacted her time at CMU.
1. What do you enjoy about campus life?
I love being around so many intelligent people. I love that I can interact with, learn from, and collaborate with people who are interested and dedicated to what they are doing. I enjoy the diversity of interests on campus. You can walk up to anyone on campus and they might be a CS major doing research in robotics or in the school of drama perfecting a play they are working on. Everyone is passionate about something and everyone has their dreams, goals and hobbies. The diversity of them makes campus amazing.
2. What do you get involved in outside of your sport?
Classes and homework take up a big chunk of my time, but other than that I also love being a TA on campus. In the spring semester, when my schedule is not already crazy with volleyball season, I am a TA for 15-112 Fundamentals of Programming and Computer Science. This was the first CS course I took at CMU and was really my first real introduction to programming and showed me how much power code can have. It was an amazing course and I'm so glad I get to provide that experience to other students now. Other than volleyball, some of my closest friends on campus came from the 112 group. I also occasionally go to the random SWE or ECE meeting when it sounds interesting and help assistant coach a 14s youth volleyball team when I am home from school over Christmas.
3. Tell us about what internships you've had.
Last summer I was interning at Allston Trading, which is a fairly small financial company in Chicago. I mostly worked on programming a database system that would take the downloaded data from the day about the markets and then convert it into a data structure that could be easily moved into a database for the traders to see and reference when they were trading. This internship showed me that I definitely want to do software in industry after I graduate and while I don't love the financial industry, I still had a really great time there.
I also was an REU intern after my freshman year. I worked at the University of Rochester on Computer Security and while it was also a great experience and I learned a lot, one of the things I definitely learned was that I don't want to do security or work on low-level computer systems.
4. What are you excited for in the spring semester and moving forward?
Even though I still have a year left, I am super excited for my capstone project. I get to finally put together all my knowledge from all four years and design something that is really of interest to me. I get to make something with a team that we think is cool and that we get to show off. I am also excited for any internships and jobs I have in the future, although I don't know what they will be yet.
5. Why did you select your course of study – what class have you enjoyed the most?
First, just to specify, I am an ECE major with a double major in Psychology and a minor in CS. ECE actually kind of runs in my family. Both my grandpa and my dad were ECEish majors at their schools and so I've had a lot of influence from them. I also participated in a few coding camps while in high school, took a class in Java, and love the E&M parts of physics. All of that led me to become an ECE major here. Once I came to CMU, I found I really liked some of the software classes I was taking and looked into getting a minor. While in high school, I also had an open period and decided to take AP Psychology. I really loved the topics and learning about it, so I started filling some of my gen-eds here with psych classes. Eventually, I took enough and looked into what it would take to get a double major.
Some of my favorite classes have been 15-112 Fundamentals of Programming and Computer Science, 15-210 Parallel and Sequential Data Structures and Algorithms, 85-380 History of Psychology, and I am currently really enjoying 15-494 Cognitive Robotics: Future of Robot Toys.
6. What class has been recommended by your teammates or friends as a MUST TAKE class at CMU? OR, what class would you recommend someone take?
I am definitely very biased here but I really think 15-112 is a must take course. Sure, not everyone needs coding to that level, but I think it is a good experience for everyone to learn about how to write software in a logical way, think critically about debugging, etc. It is just a different way of using your mind. Plus, the world is really moving more towards computers and programming is becoming more of a compulsory skill. Everyone should know how to write a small program to test some inputs and get out what they want.
7. What have you enjoyed about Pittsburgh?
CMU has a great suburban feel when you are on campus and so there is lots of green space and places outside you can hang out with friends. You can usually go outside and see people playing frisbee or soccer on the cut. But, if you want a little more city, 5 minutes away is the University of Pittsburgh with a much more downtown feel. If that is still not enough, a 20-minute bus ride from there is actual downtown with lots of shops and restaurants and a beautiful park. Phipps is also next door and is a great place to study or destress under the beautiful plants. There are also lots of sports teams, so if you ever want to see a professional game, no matter what time of year, you and a group of friends can all go. There are lots of things to do and the weather is not too bad (as long as you don't have to drive) so I really like living here for most of the year.