Sunan Xiang, MPCS Class of 2020: “The MPCS is definitely worth it."

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 internships.


Sunan Xiang graduated from the MPCS in 2020 from the MS in CS 12-Course Program with a Mobile Computing Specialization. She shares her experience coming from a non-computer science background, and what her experience has been like as a Software Engineer at Amazon.

Did you come to the MPCS with a computer science background? What motivated you to apply and enroll?

My major in school was in Urban Planning. So I came to the MPCS with no background at all. The MPCS has great courses for CS newbies to gain a well-rounded professional CS skillset. The MPCS not only provides courses giving deep understanding of fundamentals but also courses with much hands on experience which help a lot in seeking jobs and future careers. 

Can you tell us a bit about your experience in the 12-Course MS in CS Program with a specialization in Mobile Computing?

I chose Mobile Computing as my specialization, because my internship was about mobile development. This specialization has a series of courses from fundamental to advanced development of mobile applications.

What has your experience been like as an intern and now a Software Engineer at Amazon? Do you feel the MPCS has helped you in your professional goals?

My internship at Amazon revolved implementing a feature in mobile application to enhance the engagement of users to the application. I implemented both on Android and iOS platforms. The courses like iOS development helped a lot in getting myself quickly used to the code base of the application and figuring out how to implement. My third project in my internship was to generate a pipeline on AWS. Experience gained in the Cloud Computing course saved me as I was assigned such a complex project. Cloud Computing gave me basic ideas about AWS based on which I could finally work out how to generate AWS stack using CDK

What was one of the most valuable experiences you had in the MPCS (a specific class, a project you worked on, etc.) and why? 

Cloud Computing is a course I’d recommend to everyone in MPCS. Students complete a huge project throughout the whole quarter. Firstly, just a simple service, but later by using AWS resources improved to be a scalable and highly available system. During this process, students will not only learn the fundamentals of AWS but also the design of a large and complex system. This project was the most outstanding experience in my resume before I interned at Amazon.

Would you recommend the MPCS to others? If so, why?

Yes. In the MPCS, even if you are new to computer science, you can gain professional training from basics which will not make newbies frustrated. Also, it can help you get prepared for interviews as it provides courses close to industry.

What is the best piece of advice you would share with someone who is deciding on whether to attend the MPCS or not? 

Both MPCS and UChicago can provide you valuable resources. It’s definitely worth it.