Computer Science Education Week Student Profile Q&A: PLTW Alumnus Aaron Suarez

Aaron Suarez is a junior at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is majoring in computer science and minoring in comparative media studies.

PLTW: What is your experience with PLTW? How did your PLTW experience influence your path in computer science (CS)?

Suarez: I was a part of the Innovation Academy for Engineering, Marine & Environmental Science Program at Moody High School in Corpus Christi, Texas. The Academy offered its engineering curriculum through PLTW, and it’s here where I was exposed to PLTW’s hands-on learning. Over the course of my high school career, I took classes such as Introduction to Engineering Design (IED), Principles of Engineering (POE), Biotechnical Engineering (BE), Civil Engineering and Architecture (CEA), and Digital Electronics (DE). There have been many times in courses at MIT where I've built off concepts that I learned in high school, and I truly consider myself fortunate to have had this opportunity.

PLTW heavily influenced and validated my choice of major and career by exposing me, in an engaging manner, to the variety of engineering fields that exist.

PLTW: How did you first become interested in computer science?

Suarez: My interest in computers and computer science started in elementary school when I took a computer lab class. Here, we learned everything from proper typing skills to basic website development to video game development. The teacher of this class, Mr. Gary Henicke, proved to be one of the most influential mentors in my earliest years. As result of the activities we did in that class, I am now actively pursuing Web design and development as a career and studying the impact of new media, such as video games, on society and culture.

PLTW: What makes you passionate about CS?

Suarez: My passion for CS comes from the possibilities of helping people. I want to help create products and applications that make people's lives easier. I want to design intuitive interfaces so that people can adapt to technologies faster.

PLTW: What is your area of focus in computer science?

Suarez: At the moment, I am learning about various components of CS (structures of computers, algorithms, networks, etc.), but I am mainly focused on Human-Computer Interaction. At my core, I am a creative person – I dance with hip-hop teams at MIT and in the Boston area, noodle on pianos around campus, and look at typography in my spare time. Because of this, I'm particularly fond of Front-End Web Development. It is the perfect balance of design and development – a place where I can be both artistically and technically creative.

PLTW: What are some of your career and/or academic goals and aspirations? 

Suarez: Right now, the main goal is to get my bachelor's. As a first-generation college student, I am planning on taking advantage of MIT's five-year master's program to get that degree.

Afterward, I'm looking to enter industry and work for a company where I can pursue front-end engineering work on Web applications that help people.

PLTW: How are you celebrating Computer Science Education Week?

Suarez: For Computer Science Education Week this year, I'll be finishing up my projects for the semester – one of which is an MIT-based lending service that hopes to bolster community involvement through the exchange of items in living groups. This time last year, I was helping to advertise education material for the MIT App Inventor project for learning about Android app creation in the classroom. Unfortunately, this year's focus is on finishing out the projects and finals of this semester.