Michael Smith Mixes Ballroom Dancing with Computer Science

The campus diversity and strong curriculum were deciding factors in Michael Smith’s decision to choose UConn for his university experience. The junior Computer Science major has found not only his engineering niche but also extracurricular activities, such as such as leading the DanceSport competitive ballroom dance team, since coming to UConn from Wakefield, RI.

High School: South Kingston High School, Wakefield, RI

Reason for Coming to UConn:
“Price was a factor, but not the biggest. What I liked a lot was the strong school curriculum, which – along with UConn’s being a large school – meant there would be a lot of opportunities. Also, the more diverse student body, with many clubs and extracurricular events, ensures students can find anything they’re interested in doing and can connect with others doing what they enjoy.”

“I’ve been very impressed with the engineering experience. I’ve gone from never even imagining what a computer program looks like or how a program functions to now having several jobs and internships in the field of computer science. I’ve found that if you look around for yourself, you can find and get pretty much anything you want in terms of resources and opportunities. And there are some amazing professors with great research projects going as well. On top of that, the University Scholars program allows students to take on a two-year research project on a large topic of their choice; it’s something I will be applying for at the start of my junior year, and which I think is one of the best possibilities you could have, to be able to do research in a topic of your choice.”

Beyond Engineering:
“At the start of my sophomore year, I joined the DanceSport competitive ballroom dance team. I have had an amazing time with this club and the people in it. Dancing on a ballroom team was something I never imagined for myself, yet now I am the club’s president responsible for overseeing our club’s organization, funding and travel. And thanks to UConn, I’ve been able to go on several overnight trips with DanceSport, to Ohio and Boston, where everything – the competition fees and the hotels and transportation – were all paid for. It’s been a great experience so far at UConn.”

Career Plans:
“So far I have held two internships and now a job during the school year that fall solidly into the field of computer science and engineering. One internship was with a URI professor who was developing wireless networks using a new technology; the other involved development of a network transmitter for the Navy, to be deployed on ships. It is my wish to stay in research, either through graduate school or R&D for a private company. Currently my aims are to get into the field of AI. Through the University Scholar program, I am applying to do an AI-based project that draws from the goals of a start-up called Numenta. From what I have done so far, and what I plan to do with my remaining year and a half, I believe I will be well prepared to enter a research field wherever I end up.”