Every other week we spotlight an OMSCS TA, so you can get to know who's behind the screen. Here are four questions for Keith Henning is a TA for CS 7639: Cyber Physical Design.
What do you do professionally?
My official answer is that I build high-powered teams and software. I am currently the head of software development and devops for a company that is a key supplier of hardware to the satellite, broadband, and telecom markets. Before this, I was the VP of technology for a startup that was acquired by a broadband provider, and before that the VP of R&D and chief privacy officer for a startup that was acquired by IBM. I started with software development at Dell over 25 years ago, and all my positions have been centered around e-commerce or e-commerce analytics. As much as I love to build software that solves problems, building a teams is the more difficult and rewarding task. To be able to look back and see where developers I mentored at the start of their career have ended up has been a surprising bonus.
Why do you TA for OMSCS?
I always look for ways to give back to communities I belong to. For the OMSCS program, I feel it is even more important to search for those opportunities because of the nature of the program and the reliance on TAs to make it work. Being a TA looked to be the best way I could give back to the program at this time. Hopefully, other opportunities will present themselves as well.
What's your advice for future students in OMSCS?
Breathe. Before starting the program, I had not been in a classroom setting as a student for over a decade, and I was very stressed. The best thing I could do while in the middle of a project I could not understand was to step away for five minutes, or an hour, or even a day. So when you get stuck, step back for a moment, relax, and breathe. Something will come to you, and it's more likely to happen when you are not trying to force it.
What do you want to do after you finish OMSCS?
I would like to transition my career from e-commerce to robotics. However, given my 25 years of experience and expertise in e-commerce, it is unlikely that potential employers would want me doing anything else. The OMSCS program is giving me a once in a lifetime opportunity to retool my skill set and, hopefully, move into the robotics field when the program is complete.