Allen Koh ‘13 is currently attending Georgia Institute of Technology, working toward an MS in Computational Science & Engineering. And he’s doing this while working full time for General Electric! We recently heard from him about what it’s been like to work on cutting-edge technology with a company like GE.
Let’s start with grad school. Any advice for Oliners considering this decision?
Get started as a junior - research schools/programs, figure out logistics and start studying for the GRE/GMAT/etc. Talk to professors about potential programs and think about rec letters.
Edisons with Jim Lovell
Tell us more about GE and what you do there.
I work at the GE Software Center, part of the newly formed GE Digital organization. I'm a software and data analytics engineer creating applications for the GE Renewable Energy business.
What is a typical day like?
Every day starts with our daily standup where the team gets together to update each other on what they're working on, whether they have any impediments, and what they're expecting to get to for the day. The majority of the day as a developer is spent architecting and implementing code - I'm currently working on a couple of projects. The first is developing python analytics using wind turbine data and Apache Spark, an in-memory analytic engine. The second project is developing software for a gateway device that will sit at our customers’ wind farms and connect their wind turbines to GE’s cloud. If I'm not coding, I can be in meetings with the UX team, collaborating with teammates on our applications, or in calls with our end-users soliciting feedback or subject-matter expertise. If I get some time at the end of the day, I usually play some ping pong with coworkers before I head home.
What do you feel you are doing that's innovative?
GE's Software Center is creating the Industrial Internet - an Internet of Things platform for industrial equipment (i.e. gas turbines, aviation engines, CT scanners, wind turbines, etc.). We're finding ways to increase capability, reliability, and efficiency through data analytics and software. The industrial space, particularly energy, has huge potential to benefit from big data and software and we're tackling that opportunity. We're involved in creating the Predix platform and applications that enable our GE industrial businesses to offer innovative products and services to our customers that help them save billions of dollars.
How have you made a difference in the world since leaving Olin?
As part of the Industrial Internet effort in the renewable energy space, I'm involved with creating software that enhances wind turbine technology and capability ultimately allowing wind energy to be a competitive energy source in the world.
How did your time at Olin prepare you for the real world?
Olin's project-based and design-centered curriculum really play a large part in my everyday work. I'm able to research and learn new technologies and frameworks as I need and pick them up relatively quickly. The experience from working on multidisciplinary teams throughout my time at Olin helps when I discuss ideas with coworkers at the office - I'm able to hold thoughtful, engaging conversations with mechanical engineers, product owners, and UX designers. I think the most important trait I picked up while at Olin was a positive attitude when faced with a challenging environment. I'm able to take a step back, look at the big picture, and then tackle problems head on with less fear of failure than my peers.
Do you have time for fun? What do you like to do?
I get at least one of my weekend days to hang out with friends if I'm not working on graduate school. I usually like to go out and eat good food with friends or travel. I have friends in the Bay Area from all over but it’s always great to catch up with Oliners. I also reserve at least 1 evening a week for soccer :)
Advice for current students?
Spend time at Olin pursuing projects and work that genuinely interest you. You have the opportunity to work on projects that inspire you - they're open-ended so use that to your advantage. If I could go back, I would also take advantage of passionate pursuits - there are not many places that will give you money to go do what you want!