The University of Chicago Masters Program in Computer Science students push boundaries and innovate across many facets of industry. Whether it’s developing seamless UX interfaces, engineering software at Fortune 500 companies, working in big data or keeping networks secure, our students use their applied-skills education from the MPCS to problem-solve, create, and elevate the computer science field. Learn from their stories and discover how a CS background can prepare you for cutting-edge careers and leadership roles.
Sagarika Dasgupta, Class of 2018, is a Software Engineer, Machine Learning Platform at PlayStation. She tells us about life in the Bay Area, how the MPCS Cloud Computing class still helps her day-to-day at work, and why there’s no limit to how far you can go if you’re willing to learn.
What does a great day at work look like for you?
My day starts with a stand-up where we talk about our progress. Then I usually work on implementing better solutions that would replace some legacy system on our Machine Learning platform. Other times, I'm working on architecting a solution that would improve the system. I have the opportunity to do both, the planning/designing and the implementation at my job.
What do you enjoy most about your profession?
It's a very exciting time right now to be on the Machine Learning Platform at PlayStation as we are constantly planning and redesigning a lot of our legacy systems for machine learning workflows, model deployments, and data management.
One excellent thing about working in the Bay Area is that there's a culture of putting a lot of importance on always using the best technology in the market there is for any use case. People aren't afraid of throwing away old or bad code and starting fresh, even when it sometimes involves a lot of work. So, you are always a part of the change and are constantly updated with what's new in the market or where the world is moving to. There's always something new for you to learn or do.
Which programming language/technical skills do you use most often at work?
My team is a big believer in functional programming and for good reasons, so I use Scala a lot to write functional style code. Also, GRPC plays a big role in all of our services. Other than that, I definitely use AWS and Kubernetes almost every day for managing our machine learning workflows and services.
Describe a problem at work that your MPCS knowledge helped you solve.
I took the Cloud Computing class in MPCS which was very useful. I work with AWS every day at work and taking Cloud Computing helped me build familiarity with it early on. The class also detailed topics like autoscaling your resources based on demand, which is something we actively do in our Machine Learning Platform. Almost every company uses some form of cloud computing resource, so I'd highly recommend taking that class.
Did you come to MPCS with a computer science background? What motivated you to apply and enroll?
I had an engineering background. I had done my Bachelors (BTech) in Engineering Physics. I developed a keen interest in computer science from my BTech days and knew I had to get my Masters in CS. I was looking for a program where having a Bachelors in CS wasn't a pre-requisite and preferably also offered some immersion courses to ease into CS. UChicago is an excellent, world-renowned school and the MPCS program perfectly fit the bill.
What about the future of the computer science/tech industry most excites you?
It is a very dynamic industry that is constantly changing and reinventing itself. The demand for good software engineers is at its peak, and growth in this industry is higher than any other. Just as we develop better tools to tackle a problem, the bar gets set higher, the next problem to solve is even more complex. There's no limit to how far you can go or how high you can fly if you are willing to learn.
Would you recommend MPCS to others? If so, why?
I owe all my professional success to the MPCS. It has made me a good engineer and given me the confidence to take on any new challenge at work. The lecturers are really good, and the courses are very well designed to guarantee a good understanding of the subject. It pushes you to work hard and master whatever courses you have picked. You have abundant help available to you from faculty whenever you need it.
It's a great program and allows you to pursue whichever area in Computer Science you are interested in. I have some friends who became Machine Learning engineers, some became IOS engineers, cloud engineers and I myself am a Software Engineer. The work you'll have to put in for this program won't be trivial, but it'll all be worth it. You'll be so proud of yourself for completing this program.
What is your favorite memory from your time as an MPCS student?
Probably going to the UChicago bar to chill out with friends after an Algorithms quiz or working in lab on homework assignments with friends. I also enjoyed taking walks around the beautiful campus.
What was your favorite MPCS course?
Algorithms by Dr. Brady and Parallel Programming by Lamont Samuels. They were both excellent lecturers who went out of their way to make sure we understood their subjects, which were definitely one of the harder ones. Algorithms can be a little tricky to grasp at first, but nobody could have done a better job than Dr. Brady in teaching it. I also benefitted a lot from these subjects as I still use them.
How has your MPCS education helped you achieve your professional goals?
MPCS helped me develop a good grasp on the fundamental concepts of Computer Science. Once you have the basics, you can quickly pick up any new tool/language or software that you might come across at work. It gives you the perfect stepping stone to the tech industry. The degree is also respected everywhere in the industry.
What is a piece of advice you’d give someone considering applying to MPCS?
Look at the course curriculum to find subjects that are interesting to you. Attend the information sessions they have online. I personally highly recommend taking this program. Finally, if you are in Chicago, visit the campus. It's beautiful.
Do you have any career advice for someone who's pursuing a job in your current field?
Make sure you network. UChicago has many career fairs that you should attend while you are there. I found my current job through a career fair at UChicago.