Matthew Loring '15
Major: Computer Science
Hometown: Lansing, NY
Why did you choose Cornell?
During high school I became interested in both computer science and biology. Most universities separate these disciplines with computer science in engineering and biology in another college. The College of Arts and Sciences at Cornell allowed me to explore my interests in both areas without having to transfer colleges after deciding on one of them. Additionally, I grew up in the Ithaca area and was exposed from a young age to the great opportunities at Cornell through community outreach programs.
What is your main Cornell extracurricular activity -- why is it important to you?
Early in my freshman year, I became involved with the Association of Computer Science Undergraduates (ACSU). The ACSU is responsible for hosting company recruiting events, academic talks by professors, and social events for the computer science community. I was on the executive board for three years, serving as treasurer for two of them. Working with the ACSU was a great way to meet lots of students with similar interests and to give back to the community by helping students learn about research being done in the department and find job opportunities.
What was your most profound turning point while at Cornell?
As I became more involved in the computer science community, I became good friends with Nick Fishman, one of the leaders of the Association of Computer Science Undergraduates (ACSU). Seeing the profound impact Nick had on the community both technically through his entrepreneurial endeavors and socially through the work he did for the ACSU taught me that professors were not the only teachers on campus. Once I began viewing interactions with professors and other students alike as learning opportunities, I found myself gaining more interesting and valuable information in and outside of my coursework.
What, if any, Cornell-related scholarships/special financial benefits did you receive?
As the son of a Cornell employee, I benefited from the Cornell Children’s Tuition Scholarship Program.
What accomplishments/activities are you most proud of while at Cornell?
Research played a large role in my undergraduate experience at Cornell. At the end of my junior year I came in first place in a research competition hosted by a major conference in my research area. The competition involved traveling to Edinburgh to present in a poster round and then a talk round for the finalists. Presenting my research work in this setting was a new experience and it was exciting to see genuine interest in the work I was doing from other conference attendees despite being an undergraduate. In my senior year, I was able to co-author and collaborate on a paper with other members of my research group which was a very rewarding end to my undergraduate research experience.
What, if any, research projects did you participate in at Cornell?
I have worked for the last five semesters with Professor Andrew Myers and the Applied Programming Languages Group on designing new programming languages that help developers write more secure programs. This was a valuable opportunity for me as it allowed me to pursue ideas that interested me technically in more depth than could be achieved in a course and at the same time work on solving problems with broad societal impact. Every few weeks another company announces that personal information or credit card numbers were lost as a result of a preventable security vulnerability. My research aims to prevent such leaks from occurring.
What Cornell memory do you treasure the most?
Cornell has given me many memories that I will always treasure. If I had to pick a single event, it would be a birthday party put on by the computer science student organization board. I was on the board as treasurer at that time and they called an emergency meeting which ended up being a surprise party for me. I was touched that they had organized the surprise party for me. Looking around the room I realized that the friends I had made at Cornell would be friends for the rest of my life.
Who or what influenced your Cornell education the most? How or why?
Many of the opportunities that made my time at Cornell so exciting were provided by my academic and research advisor, Professor Andrew Myers. Professor Myers taught the freshman computer science class which sparked my interest in computer science. Afterwards, he invited me to be a TA for the same course which developed my communication skills and helped me discover a love of teaching. It also solidified my understanding of the course material which I was able to leverage as a member of his research group in subsequent semesters.
How did any of your beliefs or interests change during your time at Cornell?
Cornell instilled in me a belief of a bright future. Throughout my time at Cornell, I have had the privilege of interacting with brilliant people across many academic disciplines. Seeing the amazing work and ingenuity of professors and students on a day to day basis convinced me that we can make real progress toward solving the problems facing the world today. I believe that many of these people will be responsible for making the changes that move the world toward a positive future.
What do you value about your liberal arts education?
The liberal arts education provided by the College of Arts and Science is amazing for people with broad interests. I was able to pursue a highly technical curriculum in math and computer science while exploring a wide range of topics including philosophy, history, linguistics, and mythology. This breadth of coursework gave me an opportunity to hone valuable critical thinking and communication skills in different interesting contexts.
What are your plans for next year; where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Next year I will be joining Google as a software engineer. I hope to gain industry experience in the area that I focused on in my research on campus. Farther down the road, I hope to continue my education with a graduate degree so that I can pursue a career in academic or industrial research in security and programming language design.
Anything you'd like to add about yourself that these questions didn't address?
I would additionally like to thank Cornell for providing opportunities to discover so much about myself. While at Cornell, I discovered my passion for research. I learned how to approach complex intellectual challenges and to appreciate the beauty of elegant solutions. As a TA, I experienced how rewarding teaching can be; I learned to effectively communicate ideas and to empathize with and help others overcome their intellectual barriers. I am so grateful to have had the opportunities made available by Cornell and the College of Arts and Sciences.