Hometown: Pittsburgh, PA
Why did you choose Cornell?
Cornell has always distinguished itself from other universities by offering great programs in interdisciplinary education, which immediately drew me to the university. From an early age, my interests in art, technology, and business have led me down a variety of paths including advertising, web development, product management, and UX Design. I knew that I would benefit best from a school that allowed me to fully explore my passions while also preparing me for a career in fields that may not even exist today. With Cornell’s Concurrent Degree Program, I have been able to do exactly that, thanks to a uniquely designed pairing of Information Science (BA) and Fine Arts (BFA).
Why are you majoring in Info Sci, and what is your concentration?
When I arrived at Cornell as a Fine Arts major, I considered pursuing a second degree in Computer Science and minoring in Psychology. Fortunately, I quickly came to realize that the Information Science major would not only allow me the desired blend of Computer Science and Psychology courses, but also enable me to pursue classes in Economics, Law, Visual Studies, and Business, among others. Today, I am concentrating in Human-Centered Systems and Social Systems – a combination which allows me the flexibility to blend my passions in art, technology, business, and psychology. Looking back, selecting the Information Science major has been one of the most transformative and incredible decisions of my life.
What research projects are you working on?
Currently, I am working extensively with topics in what many in the field call “blended realities.” My research includes new interactive technologies such as the Microsoft Kinect as well as visualization technologies such as projection mapping and virtual reality. Creating a connection between interaction and visualization is of great importance to my work – allowing me to better understand the potential design space of more immersive interactive experiences. What is particularly exciting to me is the ways in which I can utilize these technologies and ideas for the creation of artworks that engage the viewer in unique ways, alter perspectives, and reimagine everyday spaces.
Is there a particular faculty member in Info Sci who has influenced your educational experience?
Without hesitation, I have to admit that all of the faculty have been tremendous in their help and support. Time and time again, I find myself in awe of just how far faculty in Information Science will go to ensure every student receives a great deal of personal instruction, direction, and guidance.
I particularly also have to thank Amy Sindone for all of her incredible guidance and advice. From my initial research of the Information Science major to selecting the best career path after college, Amy has gone above and beyond to ensure that I am on track and making the right decisions in school and beyond. Her endless patience, optimism, and honest insights will forever be strongly tied to my memories of Cornell and are a large reason why I am so in love with everything that the Information Science major has to offer!
What other activities are you involved in around campus or around Ithaca?
There is no end to the amazing clubs, communities, startups, and projects available at Cornell and around Ithaca. I really love photography and have been fortunate enough to act both as Slope Media’s Head of Photography and The Cornellian Yearbook’s Editor of Photography for a couple of years. A few friends and I even created a startup company catering to group and event photography around Ithaca. Beyond that, I’ve also greatly enjoyed participating in project teams, hackathons, advertising groups, art clubs, and Greek Life. Last year, I had the honor of acting as Creative Director for TEDxCornell, which allowed me both the opportunity to work with some of the brightest members of Cornell and to interact with some of the brightest minds in academia. Presently, I spend the majority of my time acting as President of the Cornell User Experience Design Club (CUxD) and assisting with web and UX design for a number of side projects.
Thus far, what's your greatest moment or accomplishment at Cornell?
Looking back, it is tough to pinpoint a single greatest moment or accomplishment out of all of the exciting challenges, courses, and projects I have faced while at Cornell. That said, the moment that “started it all” and really helped confirm for me that my talents and passions are best applied in UX Design and Product Management occurred during my Freshman year:
I saw an advertisement for Microsoft’s Firenze | BXT competition and quickly found myself on an amazing team of four comprised of Hotel Administration, Computer Science, and MBA students. As the designer, I had a great deal of fun ideating, designing UI mockups, and then creating a short animation to help demonstrate our design solution. Our team won the Cornell semifinals round and were flown out to Microsoft’s campus in Redmond to compete in the final round! The friends I made and lessons I learned over that short (but seemingly endless and sleep-deprived) weekend at Microsoft remain strong influences in my life today. Through the experience, I came to really appreciate both UX Design and Product Management as incredibly fascinating fields and have continued to pursue those interests through a combination of individual projects and courses at Cornell.
Have you done any Info Sci-related internships or projects with companies?
The summer following my freshman year, I worked as a Junior Designer for an incredibly interesting social network startup in Seattle, WA. I actually had the great luck of landing the position due to my experience in the Microsoft competition that previous school year. From branding exercises to video production, I enjoyed one of the busiest summers of my life and really found myself growing throughout the entire process. Fast-forward to this past summer, I interned at IBM as a UX Design Co-Op in Boston. This co-op went above and beyond my already high expectations and confirmed for me just how incredibly impactful the UX Design world is and will be for emerging technologies, new use-cases, and evolving heuristics. Fortunately, with INFO 3450 (HCI Design) and INFO 4400 (Advanced HCI Design) under my belt, I felt right at home working on some of IBM’s leading signature services!
If you were to impart some advice to a student considering Info Sci, what would you tell them?
Absolutely, absolutely do it. Information Science has truly been one of the most rewarding and eye-opening experiences of my life. With each semester, it seems like Information Science is growing bigger and bigger – not just as a major or department, but as an important launching pad for some of the brightest people, ideas, and projects in the tech industry. Information Science truly provides the best of all worlds: part computer science, part design, part psychology, and part business. What makes the major truly incredible is the high degree to which one can tailor it to fit their desired career path(s). From machine learning to cyber law, there is no end to the topics covered by Information Science. The major has opened so many doors for me and has challenged me in so many amazing ways. Without any doubt, selecting Information Science as a major has been one of the best decisions of my life and I cannot imagine a better program to fit my blend of passions and interests.
Be sure to check out Colin's personal website