Kyle Xu

CS Grad Talks Passion for the Work, Room Left to Improve the Field

Kyle Xu was drawn to computer science (CS) in high school for its versatility and ability to improve people’s lives. As he prepares to graduate with a CS degree from Georgia Tech, he says passion is the most essential part of the journey. 

From his research projects to helping students as a teaching assistant (TA), his appreciation for the field and potential to improve has guided his path. 

What made you decide to pursue computer science? 

My high school CS teacher mainly inspired me. He demonstrated the versatility of CS and how it can be used to improve all facets of life. Specifically, CS is a powerful tool that makes things easier and faster, which is the driving factor for innovation and technology. I wanted to use this skill in other domains, specifically the life sciences, because that was my second passion. Because of this, I chose to come to Georgia Tech. It was my best option because it had a lot of opportunities to use CS in interdisciplinary work. 

Kyle Xu
Kyle Xu will graduate with a computer science degree from Georgia Tech in May. Photos by Tyler Parker.

What was your experience like as a TA?

I’ve been a TA for four semesters for CS 1332 Data Structures and Algorithms. Teaching students is an amazing way to learn more about myself and about others. Not only do I reinforce my knowledge from this class, but I also get exposed to many new ways of thinking when helping students. It feels less like a job and more like an extracurricular where I can balance having fun and learning new things. 

The best part has been the camaraderie. 1332 feels more like a family, which has made it a lot easier for me to be myself and to be more outgoing. The growth has been a significant change since high school.

Have you done any internships?

I will be a software engineering intern this summer at Recursion Pharmaceuticals. The company focuses on using machine learning to enhance the drug discovery process, which is the kind of research I hope to do in the future.

Kyle Xu
Xu served as a CS 1332 teaching assistant for four semesters during his time at Georgia Tech. Photos by Tyler Parker.

How have you been involved in research so far?

I have done research over the past two summers. My research right now is a mix of high-performance computing and bioinformatics done under Professor Srinivas Aluru. I am mainly building a framework that can help other researchers run experiments more effectively.

I have always thought about going the professor route, but I want to try out all options before committing. There are a lot of things I learned from research. 

Do any instructors or mentors stand out as being helpful on your journey?

All the professors I’ve talked to have been extremely helpful, especially Mary Hudachek-Buswell and Frederic Faulkner. Not only are they amazing at helping with class content, but I have also asked them for career and life advice. Everyone I’ve talked to has been more than willing to offer advice on the best way to approach my goals and what pitfalls to avoid. 

What are your plans for after graduation?

I will continue immediately in the BSMS CS program. I will most likely finish my master’s while continuing with more research. Right now, I plan to continue graduate studies with a PhD. I am still undecided on this, but if I commit to being a professor or doing individual research, I will definitely need a PhD.

What advice do you have for people considering a degree in Computing?

I think it is important to consider what you want to use the CS skills for. It is a big market, but it seems to be getting smaller. I think if you have a concrete goal of what you want to do in CS, you will have no problem excelling in this field. 

The most important thing is to have a passion for the work rather than for the money that comes from it. Like they say, “If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.” It may be overly optimistic, but I think it has some truth. As some aspects of CS are dying down, new innovations will be needed because I think there is still so much room left to improve. 

And, if you love this topic, you might be the one to create the next boom for CS.