I want to welcome all students back for the Spring 2019 semester. Our December graduating class was our largest yet, in part because it included many seniors who had taken off a semester to work in the co-op program. It’s been great to see how many of them have started full-time jobs this month with the same companies where they had their co-op experience. The new semester begins after a long break of almost 40 days, a conducive element of our students’ intellectual development. It also provided the faculty with the opportunity to focus on research and seek funding initiatives
This year the long break gave us an opportunity to roll out a new initiative, the Hofstra in Silicon Valley program. A select group of fourteen Computer Science students was chosen to accompany faculty advisor Dr. Jianchen Shan on a one-week tour of seven companies located in that region of California, which is noted for its concentration of high-tech companies. The businesses the students visited represented distinct areas of specialization, and each had its own ethos and work environment. During the tour, which began January 13th, students visited companies including Apple (consumer electronics), EFI (digital imagery), Facebook (social networking), Gigamon (security), SoFi (finance), and Sony and ILM (both in digital entertainment).
The students were able to talk with engineers and other industry experts and see for themselves what a typical day in the lives of these professionals is like. Some of the contacts made were with Hofstra alumni, but all the connections made will benefit these students in the future. In fact, nine students were interviewed for potential internships or full-time positions. One of the major skill sets that our students brought to the table in these interactions is their involvement in the Facebook Cybersecurity Certification Program, implemented in our computer science department. Their meeting with Facebook security engineers was one of the most beneficial in pointing them to build on those skill sets and accumulate pertinent project experience.
I enjoyed this trip since it also gave me the opportunity to connect with our alumni and meet admitted students who live in northern California. I certainly want to thank Dr. Shan for taking the time to lead this trip, which more than met our expectations for a first-time venture. He himself found several areas of mutual interest on projects related to his own research area, so the connections between Hofstra and Silicon Valley firms may grow through collaborative research projects as well.
The success of Hofstra in Silicon Valley suggests that similar programs can be developed for other targeted subsets of our majors, and that is a topic I hope to explore with our advisory board, as well as with faculty in our departments, in the near future. The more we can connect our students with current state-of-the-art advances in the technological arena, the more confident our students will be when they take that step from the world of the university, with its own slower calendar, to the fast-paced world of industry that awaits them.