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UW CSE’s Melissa Winstanley: GeekWire’s “Geek of the Week”

Until today, receiving the 2012 University of Washington President’s Medal as the top student in UW’s 7,500-person senior class was the biggest feather in Melissa Winstanley’s cap.  But not any longer!  Now she has been named GeekWire‘s “Geek of the Week”!

This interview is so terrific that you really have to read the whole thing.  A few excerpts, though:

“My first computer science class was one I was required to take for another major.  I didn’t expect to like it …  Within a few weeks, however, I was in love …  I enjoyed every minute of the course, so I followed my heart and applied to Computer Science.  I have never regretted the choice.  I continue to love the mix of problem-solving and real, tangible results.  The fact that what I build can affect and benefit people all over the world — whether it’s back-end infrastructure or front-end web design — is incredibly exciting …

“The programmer takes a basic outline — a problem statement, a spec, or a vague idea understandable only by other engineers — and builds a system with meaning.  The exact implementation and design is where the creativity emerges.  I’ve heard from non-tech friends that they see engineering as an exclusively logical, deterministic field, which is not true at all.  The systems that we build can be just as beautiful, well-executed, and meaningful as a piece of music …

“Talk, talk, talk!  The conception of the software engineer as an antisocial individual is completely wrong, and the ability to communicate is vital to success in the workplace.  Talk is what sells your new idea for a feature; talk fixes conflicts between teams; talk determines the future of the product; talk helps you learn from your peers; and talk ameliorates problems when they inevitably arise …

“If you don’t try it, you don’t know if you like it!  I wish I could go back and tell my 18-year-old self to give computer science a chance.”

Please read the rest of this terrific interview here.  Thanks to GeekWire‘s Todd Bishop for a great interview and Annie Laurie Malarkey for great photographs.  And thanks to Melissa Winstanley for being a phenomenal representative of UW CSE!

June 26, 2012