Graduate Certificate in Software Design & Development

Aaron Hitchcock (GCSDD '15, MSCSSE '18)

Aaron HitchcockWhat made you choose to apply/enroll in the UW Bothell Graduate Certificate in Software Design and Development?

The school where I was teaching at the time was encouraging me to pursue continuing education, which is pretty standard for a teacher. Not wanting to pursue further education coursework, and already being a computer science teacher it made sense for me to look for computer science courses versus a teaching master’s program. This led me to several different programs including the UW Bothell GCSDD program, which had evening class times and a location that made it the ideal program for me.

What were some of the highlights of your experience as a student?    

Learning lots of new things very quickly and meeting like-minded people in the classes.

What were your most enjoyable classes in the GCSDD?

The classes I enjoyed the most were Data Structures and OOP II (taught by Michael Phoenix), Systems Programming (taught by Erika Parsons), and the classes taught by Eric Brechner (Software Development Processes, Software Modeling Techniques, Software Testing and Quality).

Since you continued into a master’s program, what ended up being your most enjoyable classes in the MSCSSE?

When I continued onto the master’s, I enjoyed Parallel Programming (taught by Munehiro Fukuda), Distributed Programming (taught by Munehiro Fukuda), Computer Graphics (taught by Kelvin Sung), and my capstone (taught by Kelvin Sung) classes most.

What was the most challenging part of being a student in the GCSDD?

Being a student and having homework again after not having any for several years was one of the most challenging parts of being a student. I was able to get back into the flow of homework since the projects were cool and new!

Since you continued into a master’s program, what was the most challenging part of being a student in the MSCSSE? 

Balancing working full time, being a graduate student, and trying to have some sort of life outside of that was challenging when I became a master’s student. I was able to find a balance by prioritizing the important things and often giving up the less important things. As an example, I pretty much quit watching TV and playing video games while school was in session. 

What was the most rewarding part of being a student?

The most rewarding part of being a student was learning awesome new technologies and techniques, seeing the results of my learning in other classes and projects, and going to a conference in Japan to present my capstone work when I was a master’s student. 

Where are you currently working, and what is your job title? How did you find this job?

I’m currently working at Nokia as a Software Engineer. I found the job because a recruiter contacted me based on my online resume!

How do you feel the certificate and degree program prepared you for this work?

I feel I was prepared for this work because the scope sequence and scale of the courses and projects pushes you to become a better programmer and engineer. For example, in Professor Munehiro Fukuda's classes you are exposed to lots of different technologies and have to very quickly get the basics down and use it in a project in a week. This prepares you well for real-world work where you have complex systems in place that you have to jump into, figure out, and work with on a short time scale.

What advice do you have for future students?

Find a group of other students to study with, particularly in the GCSDD as the pace is very quick. Be prepared to have little to no life outside of work and school (if you work full time!). Don't be afraid to switch out of a class in the first two weeks if you're not liking it. Start planning ahead for your capstone/thesis in the master’s program way ahead of time.