Eric Walston, '12

Degree: BS, Computer Science

Hometown: Lisbon, CT

Why did you choose to attend WPI?
I chose WPI because I knew it had a strong computer science program. Also, the project and quarter system seemed like a better way to approach learning and experimenting with new subjects than a traditional program.

How has WPI’s philosophy of Theory and Practice, and working with teams, been beneficial to you during your time at WPI?
The projects I have done at WPI have been some of the most interesting and challenging parts of my academic career. It is not like an assignment with a right or wrong answer; it is a problem that needs a solution. It is up to us to determine what an effective solution looks like through research and testing, and then make it happen by applying those ideas towards an implementation. This type of collaborative problem solving is a great way to learn quickly and understand both the idea and its execution, which is at the core of WPI’s “Theory and Practice” philosophy.

What do you think are WPI’s greatest strengths?
WPI's greatest strength is the collaborative project system between students and professors, as well as the companies that sponsor the IQPs and MQPs. Not every project will be flashy, but you can tell the teams are dedicated to the work and produce results that will often be useful in a "real-world" context. Every project is different and sets out to create something that is new or interesting or useful which is one of the best ways to motivate innovation and pull new ideas out of students.

How have the professors in your department impacted your studies and your life?
I worked with Professor Lindeman on a long term project in his IMGD 3000 class, “Technical Game Development I.” Though this wasn’t exactly a CS course, it involved a large amount of coding that my teammates and I were really proud of as CS students. We were really interested in the subject matter and put in a lot of extra time going above and beyond the expectations of the project. Professor Lindeman recognized this, offered some great constructive criticism, and helped us improve the quality of the project. In addition, he encouraged us to show it off at multiple events and introduces us to industry professionals who were interested in our work.

What are your research projects?
Since I'm about to graduate, I only have one research project remaining. I am completing my MQP with Professor Moriarty and Professor Claypool. I am working with two friends I have worked with before on other projects, and we are developing a prototype game-style interface for the security testing software of a sponsor company. The software can sometimes be difficult to approach and use effectively for new users; we believe our prototype interface will make it easier to understand and use.

What do you hope to do when you graduate? What would be your ideal job?
I have been hired by Microsoft and will be relocating to Seattle Washington to begin work at the Redmond campus in June.

Groups or extracurricular activities you participate in at WPI:

  • Head Tutor for the Academic Resource Center tutoring for computer science courses
  • Senior Assistant with the CS department during my Junior and Senior year
  • Participant in Ultimate Frisbee
  • Participant Independent project groups with friends to implement project ideas we have found interesting.

Academic or professional awards you have received:

  • Charles O. Thompson Scholar Award
  • IMGD Technical Outstanding Junior Award
  • Neil Sullivan Memorial Award
  • Deans List (every term)

Additional comments:
I've found that almost anyone can pass the necessary classes, but what really matters is how much you can get out of them. Students need to take it upon themselves to make sure they know and understand the material. It is a personal effort that will translate into the professional expertise to be successful when presented with real problems. I feel that WPI provides many good opportunities to practice this skill.

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