One of the most important aspects of any program is the people it produces. At Taylor, many of the alumni can attest to the value of the education they received. Our graduates have worked at places including Pixar, Amazon, and Wycliffe Bible Translators. They are programmers, missionaries, user experience designers, and cybersecurity engineers. Here are some of their stories.
(Computer Science—Digital Media/Systems ’13)
When Ashley joined CSE, she began studying just Computer Science. But when her adviser (Dr. Brandle) suggested she pursue New Media (now Digital Media), Ashley discovered she liked the logic of building website structures. Today she works in user experience design to improve website interfaces.
No matter how interesting a website’s content may be, users tend to not click past the first page if it is poorly designed. Ashley believes websites should help people get back to real life:
“People have a tendency to overdo technology… I want to keep you on my website but I don’t want you to be stuck on it.”
Sometimes Ashley’s goal is to convince users to buy a product, like guacamole. But sometimes her goal is more serious—like convincing people to follow Jesus.
“Make sure whatever you’re trying to design for, make sure you believe in it,” she says.
Ashley was a bit of a CSE all-star. She worked for Dr. White as the “Visual Media Guru” and designed materials like brochures and an interactive display for the department. During J-terms, she embarked on two CSE mission trips to work with Operation Mobilization. During her trip to Taiwan and Hong Kong, Ashley redesigned Operation Mobilization’s intranet as her senior project.
In her free time, Ashley enjoys playing board games, crocheting, and spending time with her husband, cat, and two dogs in Frisco, Texas.
(Computer Science ’04)
Luke Ehresman developed SquirrelMail with his brother when he was 19. Throughout his career, he’s continued to work as a software engineer at companies including Kiva Systems (now Amazon Robotics), StackEngine (now Oracle), and Operation Mobilization.
In 2014, Luke co-founded Gazelle Network, a company that develops software for piano technicians, where he is currently the Chief Technology Officer.
“I think software development is uniquely positioned where you can branch out on your own very easily with very little risk,” Luke says. “You can freelance to pay the bills and work on your own stuff part-time… And if you can do it when you’re younger, even better.”
In a group project at Taylor, Luke built a program that used a webcam to identify users’ heads, hands, and feets—constructing a stick figure that would shadow users’ movements (similar to Microsoft Live). At first, Luke thought there was no way they could complete it. But their professor, Dr. Bill Toll, encouraged and helped them through the process.
Luke’s work is not “just a job” to him. Every software he develops and every company he begins is all toward a greater purpose:
“Sometimes it comes to daily decision like, ‘Do I take a shortcut or do I do my best work?’…Sometimes that means making hard choices to not get ahead, but I do that to the glory of God.”
Luke has been married for eight years and has three young daughters. He woodworks in his spare time, joking that he picked the most dangerous hobby for his programming career—his wife always reminds him to “watch those fingers!” Luke and his family live in Holly Springs, North Carolina.