Michelle Gamboa

Michelle Gamboa

DPS High Profile Quality Engineer at Adobe Systems
Computing and Software Systems '05

Michelle Gamboa UW Bothell alumna Michelle Gamboa knew at the age of eight that when she grew up, she wanted to work in the video game industry. As a child, her family lived in Japan where she became immersed in the culture of playing video games. “In Japan, the arcades are huge with games all over the place and they were everywhere,” she says. “We had video games on the military bases and as kids we would go to school early just to play video games before class.”

Now she works for Adobe in Seattle, where she coordinates and organizes the end-to-end testing of the company’s entire Digital Publishing Suite. Adobe’s publishing customers include Martha Stewart magazine, National Geographic, and Conde Nast.

Gamboa’s path from video game player to software engineer began at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo in California, where she began her studies in computer science. But then she moved to Seattle and got a contract position in the Microsoft Games division. Once she became a full- time employee at Microsoft, she decided to complete her education and enrolled in UW Bothell’s Computing and Software Systems (CSS) Program.

She says she appreciated the program’s small class size and the hands-on approach to teaching. “It was really nice to be able to have that really close interaction with the instructors,” she says. “I need to visualize things in order to understand them which is kind of hard in computer science because there is not a lot to visualize. The instructors at UW Bothell were really great at being able to draw out pictures for me to be able to understand what was going on.”

She continued to work full-time at Microsoft while studying for her degree, which she earned in the spring of 2005. Although she already had a job, she says she felt the benefits of having the degree right away. “Getting my degree and learning all the things that I learned, helped solidify my understanding of my own job,” she says. “It helped me to be able to do my job better as well as move into other areas that I was interested in.”

She remained at Microsoft for eight and half years and then moved over to Adobe, where she is part of a team that oversees testing of new components in the Adobe Digital Publishing Suite before they are released to customers. “ I go to the different groups that develop these components to find out what the new features are and then document those features so we can run through it as a user would,” she says. “Several times before we release we’ll get a whole bunch of people together throughout our digital publishing group and have them run through different work flows.”

She says one of the most valuable aspects of her education at UW Bothell was learning how to work in teams. For class projects, she’d have to work with a team of people on programming projects. “It gave me a better understanding of the different pieces I needed to understand for myself, but also how I needed to interact with my teammates to get the job done more efficiently,” she says.

In her current job, that ability to work with others is crucial to success. “ With the end-to-end coordination that I do across all these different teams, there are places where some teams work better with others and places where some teams don’t work as well with others,” she says. “It is so important because the end goal is to create this great, high quality product for the customer. If any of those pieces aren’t meshing well then that causes a problem throughout the entire product.”

Gamboa continues to give back to the school. She serves on the UW Bothell Alumni Council and raises money for student scholarships. When her team decided to hire an intern, she says UW Bothell was the first place she looked.