A Q&A with one of the 750 students who received a diploma Dec. 14 at UW-Stout:
Name: Taylor Thomas
Hometown: Forest Lake, Minn.
Major: Applied mathematics and computer science; information communication technologies; minor in computer networking system and design
Awards, honors: 2018 Outstanding Co-op of the Year, four NASA internships
Why did you choose UW-Stout? During middle and high school, I had toured Stout several times and really enjoyed the campus. So when I found out that Stout also had the exact major I was looking for, it became the only university I sent an application out to.
What are the biggest obstacles you faced in earning your degree? One of the biggest obstacles was my impulsive decision-making, constantly taking on more than I could handle. In my sophomore year I added two more majors to my plate and was working on more outside projects than I could count. While I felt I had decent time management skills, I simply had too many things to juggle. I felt that "now" was always the best time to do projects instead of putting some on hold. Thankfully by my senior year, I have gotten much better at understanding my limits and that I will have plenty of time after I graduate to work on personal projects.
What stands out among your college experiences? The thing that stands out the most are my NASA internships (Goddard Space Flight Center, 2018; Kennedy Space Center, 2018, 2019; Langley Research Center, 2019). These definitely shifted my focus to what I wanted to do after I graduated. Plus, the experience really gave me solid insight into "life after graduation," which is extremely important.
What's next? Two things are planned out. The first is acquiring my master's at Johns Hopkins in space systems engineering. I'll be starting this in fall 2020. In addition, two of my best friends and I launched a company in November called Anechoic, so in the months following graduation we will be seeking seed funding for our product Cordatas, an integrated software solution for data-heavy workflows for statistical analysis, artificial intelligence and machine learning. I will be working on this full time for the foreseeable future.