Ph.D. Software Engineering
Why did you choose UC Irvine for your graduate studies?
UCI ranks among the top 10 software engineering programs in the US. The faculty members are well known in the community and conduct valuable research on topics such as software testing and analysis, software architecture, software development and maintenance, and collaborative software design. So, you have a lot of freedom to choose a research theme that matches your interests. Another thing I really like about UCI is its appreciation of and commitment to diversity. Of course, I also like the location; the weather is always nice, and the campus is only 10 minutes from the beach, 20 minutes from Disneyland, and an hour from LA.
What has been your favorite class so far?
I waived the coursework at UCI to better focus on my research, as I received my master’s degree prior to my Ph.D. studies. For students without a master’s degree, the Informatics department offers a broad catalog of courses to help them obtain the required background for performing high-quality research.
Have you had any internships or jobs?
Prior to starting my Ph.D., I was a full-time web developer for two years. I also did an internship at Intel in its Data Center Group during the summer of 2015. I studied how dependency between communicating peers affects systems performance in order to identify the best architecture design for high performance systems. I also helped implement an improved performance modeling simulator.
Have you been involved in any research?
I’ve been very passionate about doing research ever since I started my undergraduate studies. Throughout my bachelor’s, master’s and Ph.D. studies, I have been a part of different research labs, exploring topics such as computer networks, embedded systems and software engineering. Here at UCI, I’m focused on analyzing and testing mobile applications to assess their security and energy consumption.
What has been the best part of your experience so far?
The most pleasant part of working on my Ph.D. is solving open problems in a creative way and sharing the results with others. I have a great advisor, Sam Malek, whose support and intelligence has helped me identify the topics I’m most passionate about and publish papers at top software engineering conferences. In addition, I enjoy collaborating with my labmates on various research topics as well as mentoring new Ph.D. students to help them have a productive academic life.
What has been the most unexpected part of your experience?
Through my research, I’ve learned to expect the unexpected. You might start working on a problem, but then you later realize that your solution doesn’t yield promising results, or other researchers solved the problem and published their results before you did.
What are your aspirations for the future?
I'm passionate about learning new concepts and sharing my knowledge with others. I hope to continue working as a researcher, either at a university or in an industry research lab. I'm more inclined to pursue a career as a faculty member of a top-ranked university, because I believe that will give me more freedom in choosing the research problems I want to explore.
Any advice for prospective graduate students interested in the program?
As a software engineering Ph.D. student, you should not only be able to find worthy research problems and highlight your contributions compared to prior related work but also build automated tools to evaluate your proposed solutions on real-world programs. So, be ready to do lots of coding, read tons of papers, and learn new concepts. In addition, try to find a good work-life balance. Work very hard and stay focused on your courses and research during the week, but then enjoy your weekends to refresh your brain for the upcoming week.