Engineering graduate student says online CSSE program helped him land dream job

By Karen Hunley

Published: Oct 23, 2020 9:00:00 AM

Chris White, MS in Computer Science and Software Engineering 

Q: When did you start and when do you expect to finish?

A: I started in August 2019. I have 4 classes left, and I am aiming to be finished either August 2021 or December 2021 (depending on my work load).

Q: Where did you earn your bachelor’s degree and what is it in?

A: I earned a bachelor’s degree from Auburn in 2016 in computer science with a minor in business.

Q: What have you been up to since then?

A: Since then I have worked in a variety of roles, including as a contributor to the open source project MaruOS, where I did a complete port to the Nexus 6P and worked with students via Senior Design at Auburn on expanding framework. I also worked as a software engineer at SAP Software, and most recently, I am working at Red Hat Software in a systems software engineering role, in which I maintain and develop the real time kernel for Red Hat Enterprise Linux.

Q: What made you decide to join this graduate online program?

A: When I started in the industry, I got a great job as a Java middleware developer that really helped me grow as an engineer. However, what I had always wanted to do was become a systems engineer, specifically with Linux kernel development. The problem was, there were essentially no jobs in the area that would allow me to do that, and my resume was not strong enough to land an interview for the positions I wanted. I had worked open source projects in this area but still needed something to boost my resume. I joined this program to try to bolster my knowledge in systems engineering work. This ended up working in my favor, and I learned enough in my first year of the program that I landed my dream job at Red Hat.

Q: What has been your personal experience so far with the 100 percent online format?

A: I have had a very good experience online so far. There is a feeling of disconnect from my on-campus peers; however, the advantages far outweigh that for me, and the online format gives me the freedom/flexibility to work a full-time job. On top of that, teachers are almost always willing to work with the distance-learning students, which helps eliminate that feeling of disconnect. I also do not feel like I have missed anything material-wise by being online.

Q: Would you have gone back for your master’s if not for the fully online format?

A: I might have, but it would have been a much harder decision. At the time of enrollment (in on-campus courses), I would have had to take a substantial pay cut (and lose insurance!). On top of that, the lack of flexibility would have made it hard (or impossible) when time-sensitive issues popped up at work. The only reason I would have considered an on-campus format was because of how badly I wanted to learn systems engineering.

Q: How do you expect this graduate degree to enhance your professional life?

A: This program has already helped me land me a job as a systems software engineer in one of the areas I am most interested in. After I complete my master’s, I also plan on returning to complete my Ph.D. (something I would have never thought about without joining the program and receiving guidance from professors). I would like to use this to enter into a more research-oriented role at Red Hat or possibly go into academia as a professor.

Q: What would you tell someone who was thinking about applying for an Auburn Engineering Online program?

A: Auburn is a great school, and its engineering department is nationally recognized. There is a great amount of flexibility, so you can deal with both work and personal life matters. You can go as fast or slow as needed and may even be able to get your current company to pay for some of it. This program is definitely designed for working professionals, and you get the exact same content as the on-campus students. I would definitely recommend applying.



Media Contact: Karen Hunley, kam0003@auburn.edu, 334.844.2224

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