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Daniel Segobiano: Undergraduate

How did you get interested in computer science?

I was trying to advocate for more diversity in STEM which is also why I’m double majoring in feminist studies. I also just love the implications of computer science and what it can do. I want to try to use whatever knowledge I end up getting from my degree to help other people, particularly queer/trans-identifying students. Also, I’m latino and finding other latinx people in STEM is kind of difficult so I want to try to use my degree to help those kinds of students who might come from marginalized communities and are underrepresented within STEM or even higher education.

Who do you go to for support or advice?

For me it was definitely helpful to be part of the MESA Engineering Program (MEP) because when I was in STEM classes, at first I didn’t feel like I belonged because I couldn’t relate to the type of people that I was seeing. Being in MEP, I saw people who identified similarly to me or just had similar experiences as I did, not coming from a lot and still being able to pursue our passion for this degree. Being a part of the Society for Hispanic Professional Engineers has also helped me because the people in that club, as well as MEP, have helped me decide which classes I should take because they’ve already gone through the first two years of college. They also helped me a lot in trying to adjust. I’m a first generation college student and I don’t have anyone in my family to go to to ask what college is like or what I should expect. My peers in both groups have become like family and offer me support. It’s helped encourage me to push on no matter what any circumstances or difficulties might occur.

What would you like to do for a living after college?

Recently, I’ve been looking into being a high school teacher or a professor. My experience in my education has been that my professors have always been cisgender, heterosexual white men and so I don’t see a lot of representation. That made me feel like I didn’t want to pursue computer science at first because I didn’t feel like I fit in. So I think being that first person people see when they come to a university or to any STEM or higher education classes, the fact that I’m queer and latino could bring a little more light onto the idea that people from anywhere can pursue this degree. You don’t have to come from any sort of privileged community, you don’t have to have any special background.

What’s the most exciting thing about engineering?

The most exciting thing about being in engineering is the variety of things you can do with the degree. I can make websites, work with startups for their projects, environmental scientists. I can use my knowledge to help students who want to get exposed to it...there’s a bunch of things you can do with a degree and that made me feel more comfortable that there are all these possibilities of how I can help people. That’s my favorite thing about engineering and it’s not specific to computer science. It’s true about computer engineering, electrical engineering, matter how specific the major might be, there are so many things you can do with them all.

What do you like to do for fun?

I’m part of the latin style dance troupe on campus, Sobrosura, and I’m also part of Salsita, which teaches beginners salsa dancing as well as some cumbia and bachata, all of which are latin style dances. I love being able to dance. It lets me relieve my stress and it’s so much fun being able to go downtown to the different social clubs that they have and there’s even one on the boardwalk that I go dance at on Sunday nights. I also sing. In high school I was kind of a theater geek, so I did musicals and was either acting or doing the lights and that kind of stuff.

What has been your favorite class?

My favorite class was probably Abstract Data Structures because it was teaching me Java and C at the same time. As much as I don’t like programming in C sometimes because it can be kind of tedious, it helped me figure out how Java works a little better. Also, my computer engineering class, which is teaching me assembly language, is really interesting because I have this weird thing where I love to know how things work. If you give me a cell phone, I’ll want to know, how did they make this? And I constantly think about how they programmed it to where it will react to the screen being touched in this place or that. Sometimes I’ll go into an elevator and I’ll think, I wonder if I can program something like this to make a decision on who to pick up first if multiple people on different floors press the button.

What kind of technical challenges have you come across in your studies?

I think what makes engineers really special is their tenacity and ability to take on a challenge and make it work because at the end of the day when you finally do that it feels so rewarding. My first year, I had a problem with a video game where the user had to land a rocket on the moon. It was difficult because I tried converting my knowledge of physics into the game and I really had to pull out my math skills. I really had to try to make sure that if they land it, it’s within a certain velocity so they can make sure it doesn’t crash and if it crashes I have to animate this thing that makes it look cooler. Finishing that, probably seven hours before it was due, was so rewarding.

Computer Science and Engineering
Degree Program: 
B.S., Computer Science
Place of Birth: 
Santa Rosa, California
Undergraduate Institution: 
UC Santa Cruz