When Computer Science major Tayler Wilczynski was deciding which college to attend, he heard a lot of great things about Michigan Tech. And when he mentioned Michigan Tech in conversation with people in the tech sphere, he says “their eyes widened and I could tell they were paying attention.
“It became obvious to me Michigan Tech has an excellent reputation, so it made me feel distinguished to have an opportunity to study here,” he says.
Wilczynski graduates this spring with a B.S. in Computer Science and a minor in Mathematics.
Wilczynski has faced and overcome a number of obstacles in the course of completing his bachelor’s degree in Computer Science. “I learned how to live by myself and take care of myself. I learned how to keep myself motivated and disciplined enough to do the work, even when no one was watching,” he explains.
“I also learned how to think in the abstract, and began to understand my limitations,” he adds. “And how to thrive in an environment with diverse people who may not share the same ideals, beliefs, or culture as me.”
Over time, Wilczynski began to feel more and more competent, both as a developer and as a critical thinker. “With each semester, through sheer curiosity, I was left with more questions than answers each semester and I wanted to know more,” he explains. “Each successive class felt like a continuation of the proceeding, like the next chapter in a brilliant novel. I just could not bring myself to put it down, no matter how challenging the material was to understand.”
Wilczynski has been a student coach at the College of Computing Learning Center (CCLC) since 2019. He says that CCLC coaching helped him stay fresh in his programming skills, and more importantly, it helped him exercise critical thinking and communication skills.
“I was always trying to see the problem from the perspective of the student to see where the disconnect was,” he explains. “I would often reflect on how I approached similar issues when I was in those earlier classes, and I would be more likely to try out my own ideas or email the professor in my current classes as a result.”
Through his work with the CCLC, Wilczynski also discovered his gift to communicate complex and technical ideas with others who may not have as much experience as he does. “I quickly discovered this ability is not as widespread as I originally thought, so I cherish and practice this gift that I have to work as a translator between engineer and client.”
His advice for students? “Start your programs early. I cannot emphasize this enough,” he says. “It makes a world of difference when students are able to get help as soon as they can. You have more time to work through the technical problems with coaches as well as more time to ask for clarification from your professor or TAs. You’d be surprised how empty the CCLC is when there are no programs due that night.”
Wilczynsk was also involved in the following student organizations: Networking and Computing Student Association (NCSA), Blue Marble Security Enterprise, and the MTU RedTeam.
Wilczynski says he will miss the many opportunities Michigan Tech presented to meet people from many backgrounds and pursue pastimes with those who share a common interest.
“I had amazing opportunities here to meet a diverse range of people,” he says. “I made some of my closest friends here. Even though they’ve graduated or moved on we still find time to hang out weekly.”
A Faculty Mentor
Computer Science faculty member Leo Ureel has been of great help to Wilczynski. “Dr. Ureel was my professor during my freshman introduction to programming courses. I learned a lot under his leadership,” he says. “He always made it a point to go to him if ever I needed help or a letter of recommendation. Dr. Ureel was also my supervisor while I was working at the CCLC. He would make sure to check in with all the coaches about how things were going and what we could do differently.”
Wilczynski says that two of the most valuable skills he has gained at Michigan Tech are his logical reasoning and technical communication skills.
“I learned how to write formal reports in a way that would make sense to less technically-apt people, which I hear is a valuable and rare skill to find in engineers,” he explains. “I know lots of different approaches I can take to break down a difficult problem into manageable chunks so that the problem does not seem as daunting. I feel like I am ready for the industry.”
A Sense of Pride
Wilczynski is a first-generation college student. “In my family, a college degree is not so much expected as it is an achievement,” he says. “My parents would always lecture me about how good things come to those who are patient. These last four years have been a huge commitment, and my family knew that. Having this degree, for me, is a reminder of my self-discipline and ability to commit to challenging and long-term undertakings.”
More than anything, over the past four years Wilczynski says that he’s learned that he has an unhealthy work-life balance. And during senior year, he made it a point to have more fun and do exciting things rather than work himself up over every little assignment.
“This year has been so much more enjoyable as a result,” he says. “I am still trying to figure out that balance, but I feel I’ve made steps in the right direction.”
Following graduation, Wilczynski has a job lined up as a software consultant for X BY 2, a consulting firm specialized in business and technology transformation for insurance and healthcare clients.
“I plan to take this opportunity to learn as much as I can about software engineering and working in a larger team,” he says. “From there, I am just looking to solidify a financially-secure future for myself and my family as I continue to grow as a professional.”