There must be something in the air in Redmond, Washington. Home to both Microsoft and Nintendo of America, the woodsy, Seattle suburb is a hotbed of technical talent, not the least of whom is Erik Barzdukas ’15.
A senior at Syracuse University, Barzdukas is a dual major in political science and public relations. As such, he takes most of his coursework in the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, the College of Arts and Sciences, and the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications.
After graduation, Barzdukas will parlay his University degree into a rigorous software engineering training program at Hack Reactor in San Francisco, Cal.
“It’s a world-class learning environment where, for 72 hours a week for three months, I’ll master [computer science] fundamentals and engineering best practices,” he says. “Then I’ll start looking for a job.”
Barzdukas credits his liberal arts training for getting into Hack Reactor, which turns out more software engineers than UC Berkeley, Stanford, and Caltech combined.
Originally intent on becoming a novelist or political journalist, Barzdukas thought he would, someday, find his byline amid the pages of The Atlantic or Harper’s Magazine. (He even took a creative writing class at Brown University, while still in high school.) Eventually, technology had the final word. Not even his involvement with the Syracuse chapter of Ed2010, a national magazine networking group, was enough to persuade him to return to writing.
“I took a computer science class in the College of Arts and Sciences that helped me decide to go into software engineering,” says Barzdukas, who also likes to tinker with motorcycles. “Until then, most of my training had been fairly isolated and self-directed.”
Barzdukas began moving in regional technology circles, eventually landing an internship at a Seattle-based startup, Nurego. It was there that he helped develop cloud-based analytics and automation solutions for subscription businesses.
“It was really rewarding to present my work to my senior engineers and then see how it helped influenced the end product,” Barzdukas says. “Last I heard, one of my designs was being incorporated into [Nurego’s] product ecosystem.”
John Robertson, assistant professor emeritus of philosophy, is not surprised by Barzdukas’ success, praising his student for his “admirable” work ethic and “first rate” performance.
“He was so full of good questions,” says Robertson, one of Barzdukas’ favorite professors. “He is an impressive young man”
Adds Barzdukas: “His course, ‘Social Contract Tradition’ [which examines political obligation in the writings of social contract theorists], was the first upper-level one I took at Syracuse, and it was the hardest I ever worked for a grade.”