Meet MEng student Owen Derby

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EECS MEng student Owen Derby

What were your interests as a high school student and how did you come to choose Course 6 when you came to MIT?

Coming to MIT, I was interested in robotics, but unsure if I would go mechanical engineer or computer science. In high school I was a member of our school's FIRST (http://www.usfirst.org/) robotics team, which was a great experience and introduced me to the wide array of technology behind modern robotics. I had also been working on an open source game emulator in some spare time throughout high school, so I had some programming experience. Finally, my dad is a carpenter and I had spent several summers working for him, so I was pretty handy.

Once you decided to major in Course 6, what led you to choose 6-3?

I may have been undecided between mechanical engineering and computer science, but one thing I knew for certain was that electrical engineering was not for me. 8.022 freshmen year confirmed that decision, and while I am aware of the fundamentals of a 6-1 education, I am and always have been a strictly 6-3 student.

What are the aspects of 6-x and the MEng. Program you liked the best and how have you found your interests grow or change as you've gone on?

The 6-3 program, and Course 6 overall, allows for a very diverse experience. Once I declared 6-3, I was still thinking I wanted to focus on robotics. As most students do, sophomore year was spent completing my intro and header subject requirements. After that, I've been able to take advanced undergrad classes in robotics, performance engineering, and algorithms. Senior year, I've been able to take graduate classes in machine learning and distributed systems. Not only has this varied curriculum met all the requirements of the 6-3 program, but it has allowed me to really explore all my interests, and now I'll be starting my MEng working on genetic programming in the cloud.

Where do you envision yourself headed next and how do you think 6-x and the MEng Program has prepared you?

After I complete my MEng, I expect I will be headed off to work for a startup. Through my three internship experiences, I've found that I enjoy my work best when I'm working hard with a small team. I hope to best replicate this experience with a funded startup in a field working on some combination of machine learning, robotics, and cloud/distributed systems. My courses that I have taken (and will take), combined with my MEng research, will give me a great foundation to begin such work, and will allow me to easily acquire new knowledge and skills in the future.