|Debbie Lu (BS ’06, Computer Engineering)|
San Diego, CA, November 10, 2014 -- Software engineer Debbie Lu (BS ’06, Computer Engineering) took a few minutes out of a busy day to talk about her time as a computer engineering student at UC San Diego. The project that made the biggest impact during her time at UC San Diego was working on the team that created a digital health record system for St Paul’s Senior Homes & Services. The project, and the class that initially drew her into the project, were part of the Jacobs School of Engineering’s Team in Engineering Services (TIES). TIES, which has since gone international and is now known as Global TIES, marks its ten year anniversary this academic year. Lu worked on one of the early projects before graduating and taking a job at CareFusion, where she worked for eight years. Lu is currently a software engineer at Cogent Road in San Diego.
Lu was part of a UC San Diego student team tasked with creating an electronic version of the 24-hour nurse’s log for St. Paul’s Senior Homes & Services. The goal of the log was to enable nurses to manage patient information via an easy-to-use computer interface. The existing log was a hand-written document shared among all the nurses and used to track changes in the condition of St. Paul’s assisted living facility residents. Read more about the project here.
A lightly edited version of our Q&A with Debbie Lu is below.
How did TIES (now Global TIES) impact your education?
I’m a hands-on and visual learner; and so I enjoyed having a real-life application for everything I had learned in classes. I was on the software team, and I liked working with different kinds of engineers on tasks that were not just coding. For example, I worked with the mechanical and electrical engineers who were focused on the hardware side of the project; and I worked with cognitive science students on the interface and user experience. This project was the most useful thing I did at UC San Diego.
What has been the long term impact of Global TIES on your career?
I think the skills I developed and practiced through the digital health records project are the skills that help me stand out at work. I am consistently known as someone who works well with other departments and with other people. I like to speak up and have a more active role in projects, and I think that’s really important. If you don’t know how to work well with others….it’s counterproductive. And you might not realize how important it is until you experience it.
Most of the people from UCSD that I’m still in touch with are from TIES. We worked together as if we were in a workplace. That turned out to be useful later on. If we were looking for jobs, we knew the strengths and weaknesses of the others on our team. That made these relationships different. I was able to say: “I saw this job; it would be perfect for you.”
Can you talk a bit about your experiences as a computer science student?
Computer science was hard. It was very discouraging sometimes. TIES let me see that I had skills that made me stand out; and TIES also built my confidence in my core software engineering and coding skills.
When I was in school, I remember thinking so many times “I won’t be a programmer when I grow up.” Ten years later, I’m still a programmer. TIES helped me find my niche in the software programming world. While still in school, getting a taste of ‘Oh I can do this’…that really helped me a lot…it made a big difference. I think programs like Global TIES are a good way to confirm your career decisions. I can see them encouraging a lot of people to stay on track and not give up on engineering so quickly.