02 May Alumni Board Scholar Profile: Q&A with 2016 scholar Michael Gohde
Members of the Boettcher Scholar Alumni Board are interviewing their fellow Boettcher Scholars to help the community get to know one another better. The following Q&A was compiled by Boettcher Scholar Gergana Kostadinova.
Scholar Year: 2016
Hometown: Colorado Springs
College(s), Degree(s): University of Colorado Colorado Springs
What are you currently interested in pursuing after graduating?
After I graduate, I plan on attending grad school to study either computer systems or machine learning. I have worked for three cutting-edge labs for the last four+ years and they have all in some way shaped what I want to do. Among these experiences, my work with the Cox Lab at Harvard University has had the greatest influence. The Cox Lab is currently focused on developing biologically inspired machine learning systems, which fascinate me. I have worked in their lab for two years and will return this summer. In the long-term, I would like to start a business specializing in one of these fields.
Tell us about what activities, groups, and/or organizations you have joined in college and why you joined them.
From prior experience, I’ve learned to try to stick to a few core activities so my schedule can remain somewhat flexible. I somewhat regularly attend swing dance, car club, and comedy club meetings as time allows. These clubs represent some of the most interesting options available to me. I was also actively involved in campaigning for one of the tickets in the recent CU Student Government elections since I was able to meet the candidates and believed that their platform and passion made them worthwhile. Besides this, I have continued to make and distribute cancer care kits at Penrose Hospital. I also work for both CU Boulder’s Dowell Lab and during vacations, I return and help out at the Vision and Security Technology Lab at the University of Colorado Colorado Springs.
Tell us about an important mentor you have had.
One of the greatest mentors I’ve ever had was Dr. Dana Wortman at the University of Colorado Colorado Springs. As my Intro to Computer Science professor, she was monumental in transforming my general and scattered interest in computer science into a well-directed vision. I attended my first class with her when I was 13, and, despite the significant age difference between all of the other students and myself, she made me feel as though I belonged in the class. She never treated me as anything other than an equal, and she always challenged me to strive for more and to do better. Later on, I took her Game AI and C++ classes, where I learned to write clean code and documentation. In the times when she was not my teacher, she was a mentor and good friend.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Some of the best advice that I’ve gotten was from Dr. Terrance Boult, who told me to build solid working relationships and have a reputation as a hard worker. Working for him and taking his advice has and will continue to provide opportunities for me, and someday it will allow me to provide opportunities to others.
If I could have dinner with one or more people from history, then I would be most interested in meeting any of the directors of Bell Labs. It would be fascinating to learn how they fostered a culture and atmosphere of such outstanding productivity and creativity within a for-profit institution.