3 Grads and a Start-up School - By Hannah Wilk '16

Catching up with Avi and the Andys

A few months ago, I had the opportunity to chat with three alumni who were on campus helping Post-Graduate Planning on a panel during Candidate's Weekend.    Andy Barry '10, Andy Getzendanner '11, and Avi Uttamchandani '10 discussed their time at Olin and subsequent careers, and their tales were both informative and entertaining! 


Where are they now and what different influences have brought them here?

Two fun things Andy "Getz" recalls doing at Olin were coding low-level Linux software and...unicycling!    It was here that he learned to cycle backwards with ease, which came in handy during the unicycle club's midnight hockey matches.   After graduating from Olin, Getz spent a year at an embedded software company, then joined Google to work on back end software.    

During his four years at Olin,  Andy B. played on the Ultimate Frisbee team and was constantly trying to keep up with Getz on a unicycle.  In the summer between sophomore and junior year,  Andy learned something interesting while working for Kiva Systems -  the engineers who did the 'coolest work' were the ones who had Ph.D.'s!   This inspired him to go to graduate school after Olin, and he is now pursuing his Ph.D. at MIT in Computer Science.  There he works on unmanned robotic aircraft that can fly through forests.  Andy also serves as a Resident Assistant in support of MIT undergrads. 

While he was at Olin,  Avi created Circuiteering,  a class which he hoped would help other Olin students strengthen their knowledge of circuitry.    After graduation, he applied his EE skills to his first job at Analog Devices.   Later, he was asked to join Harvard's rapidly growing engineering school as a Preceptor,   where he now teaches a new Intro to Circuit Design class.


Avi Uttamchandani - enjoying life as a Harvard Preceptor


SCOPE is such a critical part of our education at Olin.  How did your Senior Capstone Projects in Engineering impact your careers?

Our Olin alumni were members of three different SCOPE teams; Andy B. worked with Draper Labs to convert a small two-seater car to an autonomous robot.   Andy Getz worked for the first IBM SCOPE team, dealing with embedded hardware, SheevaPlugs, to create a new kind of secure local area network.   Avi worked with Lincoln Labs, attempting to build a low-cost sensor that could accurately determine the position and orientation of a robot from another vehicle.   

While the specifics of their projects varied widely, they all agree that the skills that they learned during SCOPE were invaluable.  According to Andy Getz, it "... qualified me for my current job at Google."    Andy Barry said that SCOPE taught him skills that he couldn't have learned in any classroom, such as managing a $10,000 budget, and dealing with different types of people, timelines, safety measures and real world consequences.   "Knowing there was no option for failure" prepared Avi for his jobs, and even life outside of Olin.


Andy Getz struggling through a tough work commute     


Advice for students?

Andy B:  Interested in grad school?   Then publish a research paper during your undergrad years.

Andy Getz:  Take some time to hang out with people in different groups or situations.   Find, make, or claim your own club.   As Nerf Club President, Andy made friends with students he normally wouldn't have spent much time with.   

Avi:  Make it a point to get to know your profs, and to help them get to know you.   Everyone should have at least three people who can write you a great recommendation.

All 3: Have fun at Olin!    "Don't work too hard," they said, smiling.   When asked if they were happy, they enthusiastically replied yes and "10 out of 10, we would go to Olin again!"


           Andy Barry is an RA for MIT undergrads while he works on his PhD    

In one of our conversations, Avi, Andy and Andy discussed how they chose to split three (dorm) rooms between six people. The three rooms were split up by function; there was a movie theater, sleeping area (six beds, one room), and study room.  "It only works with the right people," Andy advised. "They need to know that the sleeping room is only for sleeping!" Barry continued while Avi shook his head in approval. This conversation had us all laughing, and is a pretty good example of something that could only happen at Olin.

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