Kelsey Duncombe-Smith

Kelsey Duncombe-SmithWhy computer engineering at Penn?

I chose computer engineering at Penn because almost all of the classes sounded interesting to me. I knew I wanted to be an “electrically oriented” engineer, but it wasn’t until I got to Penn and explored computer engineering’s curriculum that I realized the major was the direction I wanted to take.

What would you say is your favorite computer engineering class?

My favorite computer engineering class so far is CIS 240, or “Introduction to Computer Systems.” It’s the first time you really get to see how a basic computer could work. It takes you all the way from machine code to assembly to C programming. For someone like myself, who wants to know how everything works, it answered a lot of things I’ve always wondered about.

How would you describe the computer engineering program to friends or family who aren’t familiar with it?

I would describe the computer engineering program as a mix between electrical engineering and computer science. It has classes from both disciplines, with a focus on understanding how the underlying hardware works so that you write better software.

What do you think it takes to be a “successful” computer engineer?

I think all it takes to be a successful computer engineer is a strong interest in what you’re learning. The program does have some time-intensive classes and you need to be willing to put in the hours to really understand the course content. Dedicating that time is much easier when you’re interested in or passionate about what you are learning.

What internships have you done? (Or for seniors, what are you doing next year?)

My junior summer I am working as a software developer intern at Amazon. My sophomore summer, I was a software developer intern for Zonoff, Inc., a startup in the suburbs of Philadelphia that focuses on home automation. My freshman summer I did iOS development for AstralPad, a startup focused on collaborative work on iPads.

What other activities do you participate in at Penn?

I’m a member of Theta Tau, the co-ed Professional Engineering Fraternity. I’m on ESAB which is an advisory board for the ESE department. Finally, I’m a teaching assistant. I’ve been a teaching assistant for both ESE courses and CIS courses.