Sergio Salvatore, BS

Hometown: Ringwood, NJ

Degree: BS, Computer Science

Why did you choose to attend WPI?
I was looking for high-ranking engineering schools in the northeast that had well-regarded computer science programs for undergrads. WPI became my first choice.

In addition to attending a good engineering school, I was interested in finding a place that would allow me to continue my musical studies (both with the professors on staff as well as on my own). On our first visit, my parents and I were able to meet with Professor Weeks and talk about the opportunities there. Immediately, it was clear that WPI had a vibrant music program with a dedicated group of faculty and staff. WPI clearly recognizes the cross-disciplinary value of music and engineering. Fortunately for me, Professor Weeks (and later Professors Falco and Bianchi) made me feel at home in the music department, which went a long way in helping me choose WPI.

Present job title and employer:
Vice President, Software Architecture, Sony Music Direct to Consumer Group

How do you feel your experiences at WPI prepared you for working in your field?
My experiences at WPI prepared me well for “real world” working environments. The project-based curriculum mimics the style of working that I am most accustomed to, especially in the software space.

How has WPI’s philosophy of Theory and Practice, and working with teams, prepared you for facing real-world challenges in the workplace?
Working with teams is essential to almost any professional situation today, and WPI is wise to adopt this methodology throughout its curriculum. As the computer science profession evolves, especially with the advent of open source software, one is often working with different people in different areas of the world to solve diverse problems. By providing a solid theoretical background as well as practical, applicable instruction, WPI students are able to be immediately effective in the workplace as well as have a good foundation to be able to maintain and enhance their skills as technology evolves.

How has the Humanities & Arts department benefitted you as a student /person?
Fortunately for me, from a young age I was taught the importance of the humanities and arts (specifically music) from my very musical family. The Humanities & Arts Department at WPI was a place where I could see the same importance being placed on its relationship to engineering and science. Without the ability to pursue both, I would not have had the same enjoyable and rich experience in college.

How have the professors in the Humanities & Arts department impacted your studies and your life?
From our first meeting, Professor Weeks was extremely personable, warm, and outgoing. He was able to provide access to instruments and spaces to practice (which was of critical importance to me) and graciously introduced me to other members of the faculty and staff. In addition to facilitating my involvement in the department, he instructed me in several classes on the subject of 20th Century music, which I found very interesting.

Professor Falco is also a great asset to the department and was very gracious to me during my stay. He was my advisor for my HUA Requirement, which included an essay as well as a live performance. Additionally, his knowledge of jazz history was limitless and very valuable during the courses I took with him.

Finally, Professor Bianchi was a great influence as well. He was a clear "out of the box" thinker and helped me to challenge any preexisting assumptions I may have made about music. He also advised one of my independent projects, which was focused on designing a lid for a piano that distributed the sound of the instrument evenly in all points around its circumference.

Briefly describe your projects while at WPI. What did you accomplish/learn from them?
My IQP was a project I undertook alone, advised by Professor Roberto Pietroforte of the Civil Engineering Department. Through his relationship with a social services organization in Worcester called Friendly House, I helped do the architectural planning for a future building that Friendly House was desperately in need of. This involved working directly with Friendly House staff as well as the architects working on the project.

My Humanities & Arts Requirement was in music and advised by Professor Falco. It focused on three well-known and influential pianists: Bill Evans, Chick Corea, and Keith Jarrett. I wrote an essay describing their different approaches to the instrument and music and gave a performance featuring compositions from each pianist.

My MQP was a project I partnered on with my good friend Naveen Selvadurai and was advised by Professor Michael Ciaraldi. We designed and created a distributed system that was tasked with creating more intelligent appliances for the home. It used many technologies that were then ground-breaking (remote procedure calls, automatic discovery, etc.) but are now commonly used.

Groups or extracurricular activities you participate in at WPI:

  • I gave a solo performance on piano in Alden Hall my freshman year, which was organized by the music department along with WPI's Linda Looft.
  • I performed outside the school, domestically and internationally (Japan and Portugal), with a few well-known artists including Gary Burton and Delfeayo Marsalis.
  • In addition to my musical experiences, I participated in cross country running.

Academic or professional awards you have received:

  • My degree is with High Distinction.
  • I am currently the Chairman of the Arts & Sciences Advisory Board at WPI.

Additional comments about WPI and/or your general experience here:
I was fortunate to make many lasting relationships at WPI, and I always look back at my experiences there fondly. I am also happy that WPI is making strides at enhancing its national reputation, so more people are aware of the innovative work that is going on there.

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