By Tim Swanson | June 24, 2019
Zach Alford graduated from Taylor in 2016 with a Computer Science major, and Mathematics minor.
Zach appreciates how his Taylor education gave him skills integral to future development, both in his field and out. Academically, Zach learned attention for accuracy, cognitive persistence, how to work in groups, and valuable problem-solving skills. In Taylor’s liberal arts education, Zach learned how to effectively express himself, both in conversation and in writing.
Spiritual development was an integral aspect of Zach’s Taylor education. “Taylor’s discipleship experiences and religion courses allowed me to taste and see God’s grace and justice, the pleasure of walking with Him daily, and to hope in something bigger than myself.” Zach says his most valuable takeaway from Taylor was when Phil Vischer of VeggieTales talked at Chapel. “I learned how happiness is God’s invention and that by seeking Him I find happiness along the way (Psalm 16:11, Hebrews 11:6).”
Zach fondly recalls the opportunities he had at Taylor. He lived on the 3rd floor of Samuel Morris Hall (also known as “The Brotherhood”). His first classroom experience resulted from a spring break missions trip. Zach enjoyed his interactions with his peers and professors. One of his favorite experiences was the opportunity to volunteer at the Red Barn, a youth ministry for struggling students at a nearby high school.
Now living in Douglasville, Georgia, Zach is a math teacher at Chapel Hill Middle School. In June of 2019, Zach completed his Masters of Arts in Teaching at Mercer University as a Woodrow Wilson Teaching Fellow. “Teaching is a challenging but rewarding profession! I enjoy watching young minds grow and become confident with mathematics; the growth will serve them in many stages of life”
Grant Hollis graduated from Taylor in 2004 with a Bachelors of Science in Computer Science, Systems, a concentration on Intelligent Systems, and a minor in Theater Arts. Grant greatly values how Taylor’s education prepared him for the workplace: “It serves as the foundation for my career. Everything I have learned since Taylor seems like an extension to some aspect of my education there. Taylor CSE was great at enabling me to learn.”
Grant’s favorite project while at Taylor was working with Nathan Ehresman on a swarm intelligence simulation for his Senior project. Their project was called FishSim, and it simulated schools of fish. “The project was really challenging, and it really helped develop research methodology that I use in my job now.”
Since graduating, Grant lives in the Washington DC Metro area to work with Lockheed Martin ATL as a Principal Software Engineer. He also loves to spend his time running, reading books, and telling stories.
Grant describes a career in computer science as one of constant learning. “I’m learning new skills seemingly every day to either learn how a piece of software that I didn’t write works or determine how a piece of software I’m going to write will work.”
Ashley Crutcher, class of 2013, graduated with a B.S. in Computer Science New Media - Systems (Now Digital Media). She and her husband, Paul, live in Madison, Wisconsin, both working for InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. There, Ashley is a User Experience Designer, and her husband is a Software Developer.
Ashley cites her 2 CSE missions trips and Code-A-Thon as the most transformative experiences of her time at Taylor. She also valued having had an academic adviser to observe her strengths and guide her. “I never would have seen the designer and systems thinker in me until Dr. Brandle nudged me in that direction.”
After graduating from Taylor, Ashley worked with Global Media Outreach as web developer before transitioning to Ansira to develop her design skills. In 2016, she began working for InterVarsity, a college campus ministry working to establish Christian communities in the thousands of campuses across the U.S. that have none. She encourages students to consider InterVarsity as place to intern.
While it can be easy for colleges to stay in the academic world, Ashley appreciates Taylor CSE’s attention to teaching for industry application. “Once for work, I pulled out my ISA documentation and used it as a base. When I gave my director the documentation, he said it was the best he had ever seen; thanks Dr. Nurkkala!” As a designer, Ashley values her background in software development, “the more you know about disciplines adjacent to yours, the better co-worker and collaborator you will be.”
Outside work, “I like to cuddle with my fur-kiddos (1 cat, 2 dogs), knit, ring handbells, and think too much about everything. I like to joke that I am a grandma in a millennial’s body!”
After graduating from Taylor in 2014 with a major in Computer Engineering, Stephen Gilliland moved to Tucson, Arizona, to work as a Software Engineer at Raytheon Missile Systems.
Being able to participate in the ELEO-SAT (Extremely Low Earth Orbit Satellite) project with Taylor CSE served as great preparation for the work on missile systems Stephen now does every day. “Working on multiple aspects of a relatively complex embedded system (circuit design, PCB layout, microchip programming, interfaces) helped prepare me to understand the very complex systems I work on now”
Outside of work, Stephen likes to spend his free time serving with his church, playing ultimate frisbee, and having spirited discussions with his wife about random topics. He and his wife, Michelle, have been married since December 2015. Michelle is an accountant and business analyst with a passion for combating sex trafficking.
Stephen can attest to the value of advanced computer courses, which provided him a solid foundation of skills for his workplace projects. “The Intro to Computer Systems, Operating Systems, Microcomputer Interfacing, and Data Communications classes were particularly helpful for what I do, as well as the big junior and senior projects.”
Jeremy Erickson graduated from Taylor in 2009 with a B.A. in Math and a B.S in Computer Science, on the Scientific Computing track. He earned a Ph.D. at UNC Chapel Hill. Jeremy’s research topic was Real-Time Scheduling: Managing Tardiness Bounds and Overload in Soft Real-Time Systems. He now works for Google in Madison, Wisconson.
When going into graduate school, Jeremy appreciated being well prepared by his degree requirements while at Taylor. “I did not have to take any additional background courses as many incoming Ph.D. students do, and I felt prepared equally well with any of my peers in both theoretical and systems-oriented courses.”
You can find Jeremy’s work in Google Earth, where he improved it’s performance during his first summer internship with Google in 2011. This resulted in a publication that he presented at the at the 18th Real-Time and Embedded Technology and Applications Symposium in Beijing, China. In 2012, Jeremy received the overall Best Paper award at the 24th Euromicro Conference on Real-Time Systems (2012) with a paper on optimizing G-EDF-like scheduling.
Libby Edwards graduated in 2017 with a major in Computer Science Digital Media. She now lives in Columbus, Ohio with her husband, Nathan. She currently works for Eli Lilly, a pharmaceutical company, where she redesigns old websites, as well as heads development of new sites, like a site for a migraine-combatting drug.
While at Taylor, Libby says she acquired a passion for being in and cultivating authentic community. “Doing life together with a group of women/men on a wing/floor together brings with it a special bond of friendship and community. I have walked away from Taylor with lifelong friends to whom I continually reach out about the highs and lows of life. "
Libby was able to work 2 years for EduSource while at Taylor, writing software for local clients. “We used a lot of similar technologies and principles that I now use in my current job at Lilly. It has been a blessing seeing how God has shaped these experiences to prepare me for the next thing.”
For Libby, in Computer Science as a career means diversity of experiences. “but in my short time since graduating college, I have been blown away by the opportunities that my degree has given me. Because my work is on primarily my computer, I can easily work anywhere that has internet access. I recently moved from Indiana to Columbus, yet I was able to keep my same job and become a remote worker.” She also notes that working in Computer Science is a dynamic field, “unlike many careers, this one always requires having the latest knowledge about technology. It is humbling to know that the work that gets done today, will quickly be outdated within years, this gives me a new appreciation for the everlasting work that God does in creation and in our lives.”
Josiah Keller graduated from Taylor in 2019 with a major in Computer Science Cybersecurity. He now lives in Indiana, working for Peraton Labs, where he works on applied research relating to Cybersecurity. His work involves a reverse-engineering, working with disassembled code, and “hacking” software beyond it’s typical parameters for various clients, mostly the US government.
At Taylor, Josiah says he gained valuable insight in the interaction of faith and academics. “I grew a lot in my way of thinking about the intersection of faith and science, and how they can reinforce one another. This happened through conversations with CSE professors, and in classes like Contemporary Christian Belief.” Josiah’s interest in Cybersecurity was sparked when he had the opportunity to participate in the Cybersecurity Capture the Flag tournament, and research in the Lockheed Martin malware research project.
Often having to deal with low-level software, Josiah appreciates the industry value of his education. “Within a couple months of graduating, I had an intense couple of weeks that felt like an exam in ICS, Architecture, and Operating Systems all at once! Those three classes really set me up well for that challenge.”
In 2016, Justice Juraschek graduated with a Systems major in Computer Science New Media (similar to what is now Digital Media). He is now a UX (User Experience) designer for Kohl’s in Wisconsin .
Learning Computer Science at Taylor was no cakewalk for Justice. “Computer Science never came easy to me as it did many of my peers. I remember long, grueling nights of running through code trying to get something, anything, to work to turn in and nothing clicking for me. I owe where I am today to the professors and my many friends at Taylor who worked tirelessly with me as I asked question after question, turned in sloppy code, and slowly worked toward a place of understanding. If you had told freshman me that I would be teaching introductory programming to hundreds of students during grad school as a part of my program and doing it with confidence, I would have scoffed.”
Justice learned more than just Computer Science at Taylor. “Taylor taught me how and why to seek out authenticity in people, and have a seeker’s heart. Getting to ask questions and see different walks of life that I was unfamiliar with aided me in growing off previous experiences I had with my faith and really begin to grow with them in the healthiest of ways.” Emphasizing the importance of relationships, Justice says that “not everything about relationships is gorgeous and beautiful because they’re messy. It’s in those highs and the lows that you really become a well-rounded thoughtful person, and that’s an opportunity I am so thankful beyond belief I didn’t miss out on.”
While at Taylor, Justice exercised these lessons as he participated in Taylor community. He was able to act at PA of the fourth floor of Gerig Hall, known as FOSO. “It was amazing to get to take part in something that mattered so deeply to me and to be fostered by it in return.” He also enjoyed personal interactions with his professors, “being able to head over to a professor’s house for dinner and talk about the lecture for that day or whatever theological questions we had brimming up in our minds was invaluable.”
After graduating from Taylor, Justice went to grad school for Human-Computer Interaction and Design at Indiana University. While studying, he worked on design challenges for many companies, including redesigning the design system General Electric uses on many of their products. Justice now works in User Experience for Kohl’s Corporate, “my hope is by working here I can help save people time and money for the things that matter the most to them in their lives.”