Alumni Mentor
Computer Science

Alumni Mentor
Languages, Literatures, and Linguistics

Brandon Donham

BA, Language Studies, MS CS
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Brandon Donham

I first graduated ISU in the winter of 2012 with a BA in Language Studies, minoring in English as a Second Language and Computer Science. Initially, my goal was to become a teacher of Japanese, but very late in the program, I realized that my talents lay elsewhere. The CS minor was not on my curriculum until after dropping the teaching degree.

Six months later, I was back, but for computer science. Having only a minor in CS, it was an uphill battle to prove I was ready, but I did. I was fortunate to get a position as a graduate teaching assistant and spent two years happily teaching the basics and tutoring computer science students while I continued to learn more myself. I was also an active member of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) club and helped the department's participants in the ACM's annual International Collegiate Programming Competition (ICPC).

The semester before graduation, I joined a bioinformatics research project at the University. In that project, I optimized a few algorithms, made a crude set of scripts to automate the process, and created a web interface for those scripts. By the time the project was submitted for publication, I'd been offered a position as a full-time programmer.

I am now three years in that position. Effectively, my job is to write tools to help teammates process their information and be more efficient at their own tasks. As a programmer embedded in a technical team, the projects are varied and range from super mundane to wildly exciting. I have directly drawn upon course projects, the bioinformatics project, and the ICPC to help solve the projects I face.