As a child, David Shah didn’t know his love for building blocks and tinkering with electronics would lead to a rewarding career as a computer science engineer; he just thought it was fun to take robots apart and put them back together.
Looking back, Shah can now see how his early interest in “figuring out how stuff works” eventually led to a Computer Science Engineering degree from Lorain County Community College’s University Partnership and allowed him to have his pick of jobs in Northeast Ohio, he said.
“As a kid, I loved to play with Legos and robots. I didn’t know that was engineering, I just thought it was cool,” Shah said.
The traditional path is to graduate with a degree and then jump in to employment. The co-op gave me a taste of what kind of job I could do once I graduated.
Shah uncovered his passion for software engineering almost by accident. He joined the U.S. Marines in 2000, straight out of high school. During his nearly six years in service, Shah worked on a variety of projects but he quickly discovered he was best where others floundered: figuring out complex systems. When he received his assignment as an electronic intelligence analyst, he knew he’d found his calling.
“I hadn’t thought too much about software before I got that position,” Shah recalled. “It turns out I was really good at figuring out the complicated software. I was selected to help build a new Marine software system in California.”
As he became more experienced in the field, he was promoted to system administrator and was part of the team to build a new software system for the Marines. The position lit a spark inside him and he knew that he wanted to pursue a career in computer science and engineering.
“I knew that if I wanted a full-time career in engineering I’d have to get out of the military first, but I also knew I needed a real plan of how to accomplish my goals,” Shah said.
At that time his fiancée – now wife – Alison was back in Ohio and was taking classes at Lorain County Community College. She told him about the Computer Science and Engineering (CSE) program from The University of Toledo, offered through LCCC’s University Partnership. The program offered a full scholarship, but in order to qualify, Shah needed to take several prerequisite courses, such as calculus and logic. Rather than wait until he was in Ohio with Alison to begin classes, Shah registered for LCCC courses online and also took courses through the military.
When he completed his enlistment with the Marines in August 2006, Shah was an LCCC student on the path to earning a Computer Science and Engineering degree through the University Partnership. Once on the LCCC campus, Shah continued to plug away at the math and science courses he needed. When assignments got tough, he took advantage of professors’ office hours.
“The math and science faculty at LCCC are amazing. Once you show them that you are dedicated to the work, they will go out of their way to make sure that you are not just successful in their class, but that you really understand and can apply the material,” Shah said.
Shah worked with the LCCC Veterans Service Center to utilize the education benefits he earned as part of the Montgomery GI Bill.
“Using my veterans benefits at LCCC was easy and the staff at the LCCC veterans office was friendly and helpful,” he said.
Shah earned an Associate of Science degree from LCCC and continued to take courses with The University of Toledo program. As he neared the end of his bachelor’s degree program, Shah was ready to apply his knowledge in real-world situations through two co-ops. For his first co-op, he worked for a process automation company in Wickliffe. For the second placement, Shah worked in web engineering at Sherwin Williams.
“The traditional path is to graduate with a degree and then jump in to employment. The co-op gave me a taste of what kind of job I could do once I graduated,” Shah said. His performance in the co-op landed him a full-time job at Sherwin Williams when he graduated with a CSE degree in May 2009.
Cooperative Education – co-op, for short – is an arrangement between educators and employers that allows students to work in a field of interest while earning money and academic credit. A co-op provides valuable on-the-job training, allowing students to take what they’ve learned in the classroom and apply it to real workplace situations and challenges. In so doing they fine-tune technical skills and know-how, and they also learn important “soft” skills – communication, team building, problem solving.
With his degree in hand and work experience, Shah continued on to work at a few Northeast Ohio companies before he found his current career as the lead web developer for Cleveland Clinic.
“The experience and knowledge I gained through the University Partnership program made me a desirable employee for many organizations and I was able to find a company that matched my passion and vision,” he said.
Shah and his fellow graduates of the CSE program not only graduate with the skills to begin great jobs immediately, they also often find themselves with their pick of employers.
“Each year, 2,500 IT jobs go unfilled in Northeast Ohio. Through excellent academic programs and co-ops, LCCC and the University Partnership prepare students to step in to the job of their choice,” said John Crooks, Associate Provost of the LCCC University Partnership.
On the way to his post at Cleveland Clinic, Shah worked for large and small companies and explored what qualities he wanted in an employer. He spent time researching the mission statement of local companies. Shah knew he found the right place when read the tag line for the hospital.
“The motto at the Cleveland Clinic is ‘patients first’ and that stuck with me,” Shah said. “No matter where I work, I will be writing software. The company’s mission has to have a deeper meaning in order for me to feel good about where I work.”
Now that he’s found a company that matches his vision, Shah is proud of the example he is setting for his 2-year-old son, Mason.
“At the end of the day, my son can say that his daddy helps people find doctors. That’s a good feeling,” Shad said.
For more information about the Computer Science and Engineering degree available through LCCC’s University Partnership, visit www.lorainccc.edu/cse. For more information on the more than 40 bachelor’s and master’s degree offered through LCCC’s University Partnership, visit www.lorainccc.edu/up.
LCCC Awarded Military Friendly Schools ® Title from Victory Media Inc.
Lorain County Community College has been named to the 2014 Military Friendly Schools list by Victory Media, Inc. This is the third consecutive year that LCCC has been recognized for its service to military personnel.
The Military Friendly Schools list honors the top 15 percent of colleges, universities and trade schools that are doing the most to embrace America’s military service members, veterans, and spouses as students and ensure their success on campus.
LCCC utilizes a one-stop shop environment, where busy veterans can enroll, utilize their financial aid benefits and visit with a Veteran’s Certifying Official.
Since opening its doors in 1963, LCCC has served more than 5,000 veterans, most of whom have served in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan. Stephanie Sutton, LCCC Dean of Enrollment and Financial Services, said the college puts a great deal of importance on serving veterans.
“At LCCC, we are committed to assisting our veterans in reaching their educational goals and we will continue to do all we can to make their transitions to being a student as smooth as possible,” Sutton said.
In addition to financial aid services, LCCC offers veterans tuition forgiveness when military personnel are called to active duty; text book buy back services before they leave for deployment; counseling services; and designated sections of student development classes for veterans only.
The Military Friendly Schools ® media and website, found at
www.militaryfriendlyschools.com, feature the list, interactive tools and search functionality to help military students find the best school to suit their unique needs and preferences. Victory Media includes the publications G.I. Jobs, The Guide to Military Friendly Schools, Military Spouse magazine and Vetrepreneur magazine.