Veronica Peterson, MPCS Class of 2017: “I would definitely recommend the MPCS! It doesn’t get better than UChicago.”

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.

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Veronica Peterson graduated from the Masters Program in Computer Science in 2017. She recently founded the mobile app Votable, and works as a Software Engineer at Morningstar. 

As the founder and lead engineer of Votable, can you tell us more about the app, why you decided to create it, and how the experience has been so far? 

Votable was built to help all of us become more informed voters. The genesis of the platform allows users to access information about the different government branches, see a sample ballot, learn how to vote by mail and a look at some of the social justice issues at the forefront. We are now growing to include our own analysis and increase daily engagement beyond the elections. We are now raising a seed round of funding which is being led by Joe Mansueto. We are still open to other investors at this time.

Can you tell us a bit about your experience working at Morningstar? 

Being a Chicago native, it's great that my corporate experience was built right in my own back yard in one of the most established fintech companies. Our founder Joe Mansueto is also a UChicago alum, so you will find many fellow Maroons around the office. I've had the luxury of working across many disciplines at Morningstar–client facing, product management and engineering. Much of my approach to product development and user interface design was groomed from my experience on projects across our business.

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

I came to the MPCS with a background in Industrial and Operations engineering. I was considering an MBA from Booth and expressed to a friend how much I wanted to get back to engineering and actually building the software. That friend mentioned looking into the MPCS and it turned out to be the best decision for me. I know now there are some joint opportunities between the two programs which is great.

How has your MPCS education helped you in your role at Morningstar / helped you start Votable?

Becoming a developer can be done in many ways, but studying Computer Science really helps build your foundation as an engineer. Discrete Math, Algorithms, Computer Systems, Networks...so many of the core classes help to provide a certain level of thinking and understanding that translates to any technology you choose to dive into. I knew I was fond of mobile development entering the program, so I took Android and iOS development which gave me a great foundation in knowing how to build apps natively. Ultimately I was able to develop Votable using a cross-platform technology. I was able to pick up the language easily and also remained confident when platform specific issues surfaced.

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

I will always remember my journey through Algorithms in MPCS. I had a true love-hate relationship with it because I knew how essential it was to the discipline but it took my brain time to learn how to process like a computer. To this day, it is still one of the most intriguing areas to me because finding various time and space-efficient ways to solve problems arise everyday. 

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

I would definitely recommend MPCS! It doesn't get better than UChicago, the network and the support of the program. The staff and admins are accessible to current students and alums alike.