When Amy Johnson ’99 was named vice president for General Dynamics Mission System’s Cyber Systems division in 2021, the first person she emailed was Professor Ralph Bravaco. Though it had been a long time since she had taken a class taught by him, Johnson has kept in touch with the chair of Stonehill’s Computer Science Department.

“I owe so much to Ralph’s mentorship and the confidence he showed in me,” she said. “He was always willing to answer any question and support me as I entered the workforce.”

Following Bravaco’s example, Johnson enjoys empowering junior employees at General Dynamics, including numerous Skyhawks hired by the organization.

“What sets [Stonehill computer science graduates] apart is the well-rounded education they receive,” Johnson said. “Any school can teach specific programming languages, but Stonehill also teaches the fundamentals of problem-solving. You can apply those skills anywhere.”

Emphasizing Theory and Applications

Through courses focused on topics such as system design and analysis, software development, and computational efficiency, Stonehill’s computer science program prepares students for careers as software engineers, web developers and systems analysts, among other roles.

“The strengths of the program are a rigorous curriculum emphasizing both computer theory and computer applications, a faculty dedicated to student success and an alumni network that remains connected to the department,” Bravaco said.

Students also benefit from peer groups such as Stonehill’s chapter of the Association of Computing Machinery and the student club Women in STEM, which recently fielded an all-woman team in a national college hacker competition.

Recent graduates have built successful careers at organizations such as Microsoft, Google and Wayfair. Alumni have also completed graduate programs at schools such as Brown University, Boston University and the University of Texas.

Nikita Amelchenko ’14 of Canton, Massachusetts, was part of Stonehill’s 3+2 Engineering program, earning his computer science bachelor’s degree at Stonehill and a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering at the University of Notre Dame. After earning those degrees, he served as a software engineer at Disney from 2016 to 2020 before recently accepting an engineering role at Hellosaurus, a media platform supporting children’s social and cognitive development through its interactive video content. 

Amelchenko appreciates the opportunity to use the skills he gained at Stonehill to work on “edutainment” projects that positively impact others.

“I’ve always wanted to build things that bring delight to people,” he said. “At Hellosaurus, I get to fulfill that goal while also working to help educate young minds.”

Nikita Amelchenko ’14, while studying at Notre Dame as part of Stonehill's 3+2 engineering program.

Wilmington, Massachusetts, native Ryan Curtis ’10 has worked at Amazon for almost a decade. As a software development manager, he helps equip his team to craft solutions to software issues, thus enabling the company to deliver experiences customers love.

“Stonehill did a great job of thoroughly covering everything I needed to be successful in an engineering role at a depth I still appreciate to this day,” Curtis said. “The lessons I learned in my computer science classes continue to benefit me in my current job.”

Putting Classroom Teachings Into Practice

To prepare them for the roles open to them after graduation, Stonehill connects students with worthwhile experiential learning opportunities.

Nicholas Zullo ’21 of Tewksbury, Massachusetts, recently graduated with a degree in computer science. He is currently pursuing a second bachelor’s degree in computer engineering through Stonehill’s 3+2 partnership with the University of Notre Dame. As part of this program, he interned at Trek10, a company that creates solutions for Amazon Web Services, in 2021.

Zullo, a former offensive lineman for the Skyhawks, was initially attracted to the 3+2 program because of his grandfather’s passion for Notre Dame’s football team. While attending Stonehill, Zullo was able to combine his own love of the game and his interest in computers.

“One of my teammates and I created recruiting software for our coaches as part of a class project,” he said. “It was only a prototype, but I learned a lot designing it.”

Bridget Frazier ’22, president of Stonehill’s Women in STEM club, interned at Fidelity from 2020 to 2021. As an engineer, she updated the firm’s websites to increase efficiency and wrote programs to automate data-uploading processes. The Bridgewater, Massachusetts, resident also works as a programmer for biotechnology startup Ligo Analytics

“Having a basic understanding of Java, HTML, CSS and other languages was important going into these roles,” she said. “Once I started working for these companies, I built upon classroom lessons and learned more advanced aspects of each language.”

Liam Carroll ’22 serves as vice president of Stonehill’s Association for Computing Machinery. He has also interned for Abacus Health Solutions and Staples.

Carroll felt prepared to tackle these opportunities because of the rigors of Stonehill’s computer science curriculum. In one of his courses, the Providence, Rhode Island, native developed a social media application that allows users to create a bucket list of experiences they hope to have throughout their lifetime. Users can also add items from others’ lists to their own.

“As I’ve worked on projects like this, I’ve learned invaluable lessons about critical thinking,” Carroll said. “I’ve also developed a greater understanding of complexity theory, designing algorithms efficiently and using the minimum number of resources needed to solve problems ... I’m grateful to Stonehill for the opportunity to learn these lessons.”

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