Duane H. Fish, Jr., is from a very small town in upstate New York named Warrensburg. Currently Duane is serving in the United States Air Force on Active Duty as the Functional Area Manager for the Pacific Air Forces. His expertise is in Air Transportation, in which he has been performing for the last 23 years. During his time in the Air Force, Duane affirms that he "was blessed to be able to continue my academic pursuits”. Duane impressively has two Associates degrees (one in Transportation, and another in Computer Studies) and a Bachelor of Science in Information Systems Management in which he graduated with Summa Cum Laude, and he recently graduated from Georgia Tech’s OMSCS program with an Interactive Intelligence specialization. Duane asserts that OMSCS has paved the way for opportunities that he never would have had an opportunity for before. In fact, he was hired by Microsoft as a Software Engineer, and he says, “If it were not for the people and the various topics that I learned so much about, I would not be where I am today.” Needless to say, Duane has had an incredibly inspiring professional and academic career and now has an amazing new professional frontier at Microsoft.
"If it were not for the people and the various topics that I learned so much about, I would not be where I am today."
So, what brought Duane to OMSCS you ask? Well Duane contends that it is a difficult question for him: "The root answer is, a good friend and mentor of mine, Jace Yarbrough, and I served together in the U.S. Air Force Honor Guard where we led a large flight of young men and women. I was severely dissatisfied with my experience and was upset that I felt I was not an expert in anything, even though I graduated with the highest honors. He told me at that time that if I wanted a ‘real’ education that I had to attend a ‘Top 10’ school. I never imagined in my life that I would even have an opportunity to attend such a school. I started to do research for online master’s programs in Computer Science, and there were very few options, and only one that I could come close to afford, and that was OMSCS. With the low cost and the military assistance from Georgia Tech which covered the ‘fees’, my military tuition assistance was able to cover the entire cost of my degree, which was an absolute God send!"
During his time in OMSCS, Duane stated that there are many things that where great about the program. Primarily, he liked the fact that the TAs were readily available and willing to help students like himself, who might not have as much corporate experience. It was also a must that he had flexibility when he could attend class and complete assignments, as he was overseas during the entirety of his time in Georgia Tech. Looking back on his time in OMSCS, he would advise current students “to start assignments as early as possible”. In fact, he calls this imperative advice. Duane further explains that “it is often the case that there is no ‘exact’ solution to a given problem, only several solutions that provide different results and capturing some of that takes a significant amount of time”. Duane also really highlights the importance of collaboration with other students. In fact, the one things Duane misses most about being a student in OMSCS is the direct collaboration with fellow students that needed a bit of help.
"I never imagined in my life that I would even have an opportunity to attend such a school. I started to do research for online master’s programs in Computer Science, and there were very few options, and only one that I could come close to afford, and that was OMSCS."
As for research, Duane explained that when he was taking Educational Technology, he and a teammate did some research on collaboration in online learning and the tools used to enable this. Their work showed that collaboration in online learning tends to become a blog-type “forum” for Q&A. Their research also showed this is not always the best way to collaborate or to learn. With this in mind, Duane hopes to keep an eye on collaborative developments and solutions and develop future research around this. One tool that he would like to highlight specifically is MS Teams, together with Visual Studio (enterprise or code). The live-share technology in visual studios or the “take control” options in MS Teams could be, as Duane argues, game changers for teaching specific technologies for classes.