Why did you choose engineering at CU Boulder?
Choosing engineering was the only way that my parents would help pay for some of my tuition starting out. I read the description of each major until I came to computer science and decided that it "wasn't too bad" and just went for it (with a slightly bad attitude). Over the next four years, I discovered that computer science was much broader than I had imagined, and that there really was a place for every kind of interest in the field. Looking back, I'm so grateful that I was pressured into engineering because I would not have given it a shot otherwise. "I'm not smart enough" or "I would be out of place in a male-dominated field" are common doubts to have, but it really is important to try unfamiliar things out – whether or not we enjoy them or perform "well," it's just another opportunity to learn about your strengths, weaknesses, and the kind of work you are wired for. There's no better time to explore than college, and I have no regrets!
What does #ILookLikeAnEngineer mean to you?
The teams that engineer creative solutions come from diverse backgrounds and have different skills. They see different needs. The combination of talents make for great results. It’s a privilege to be part of a campaign that highlights diversity and innovation.
What are three things that make you unique?
My family is Taiwanese, so growing up in the US with a foot in both worlds has shown me how much our culture can impact the way we think. Because CU has an awesome international community, I've also had many opportunities to get to know students from all over. My friends and I will put on the occasional "ethnic food night" where we invite one of our international friends to teach us how to make a national dish (or attempt to cook something new ourselves). Lastly, I'm involved in an awesome Christian ministry on campus called Christian Challenge. It's been super valuable for me to consider some of the deeper, more personal questions of life and faith, and be challenged to live out what what I claim to believe.
"He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose."
What are your hobbies?
I enjoy cooking ethnic food, knitting, and drawing. There's a certain excitement about iterating and improving upon what you did last time. It is like any other engineering problem.
What are you up to these days?
I'm currently a software engineer on an email defense team at Proofpoint, which is a cybersecurity company. I've really enjoyed learning about the world of email security and working on a solution to a very relevant problem in our day!
What challenges have you faced in engineering? Any advice for freshmen?
Either math isn't my strength or I wasn't diligent at studying (probably a combination of both), but APPM Calculus II was the bane of my existence. It felt shameful to be struggling so much when I had taken AP Calc in high school, so I was too prideful to ask for help. The result was barely squeezing by on the fail cutoff of 55% for my test average with a C- in the class.
You may come into college confident that you'll ace everything or scared to death that you'll be crushed by the load. Whichever it is--don't be afraid to ASK for help. It may take humility to acknowledge your need, but everyone gets to that place of need at one time or another during their four years here.
Caleb Hsu, class of 2017, Computer Science