Agata Bugaj

What attracted you to Carnegie Mellon?
I became interested in computer science my sophomore year in high school. When I started looking at colleges, CMU repeatedly stood out as an excellent school for computer science. The more I learned about the school, the more I was attracted to it. I can still remember the exact date when I received my acceptance letter. There was never a doubt in my mind that CMU was the right place for me.

What was your favorite class and why?
There were several classes that I really enjoyed taking and they were all very different. Art History was a class I took my last semester and I found it fascinating. Understanding a painting and what makes it interesting was something new to me and I recommend this class to anyone whoís ever been to a museum. I also enjoyed Privacy and Anonymity in Data. This class opened an entire new section of how technology can and does affect our everyday lives. Another class I enjoyed was Independent Research. Sitting in class and listening to a professor is one thing, but meeting with a professor one-on-one and discussing ideas with her is another.

Who was your favorite professor and why?
With each good class comes a good professor. A list of a few of my favorite professors includes Edith Balas, Latanya Sweeney, and Anastassia Ailamaki. In my opinion a good professor is one who can inspire her students, make them see things in a different light, and of course teach them something interesting.

What was the best thing about living in Pittsburgh?
I really like the culture that is in Pittsburgh. The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra is one of the finest orchestras in the world and going to a concert is a great way to spend an evening. Thereís also a ballet, an opera and lots of theatre to keep students entertained. Pittsburgh is home to many museums and contrary to what some CMU students think, thereís always something to do in the city!

What opportunities do you feel you had at Carnegie Mellon that you wouldn't have had at another university?
I had the opportunity to work with and learn from some of the most amazing computer scientists in the world. Also, I think that CMUís relationship with industry gives its students an advantage over students at other universities.

How do you think Carnegie Mellon helped prepare you to meet your professional challenges?
Iím a firm believer in the idea that if you can handle the coursework at CMU, thereís nothing you canít handle.

What do you believe has been your greatest achievement?
Itís difficult to pick an achievement and label it as my ďgreatestĒ but there are a few things Iím proud of which occurred at CMU. These include being one of the creators of the now-famous-across-the-nation Women@SCS roadshow, being a co-founder of SCS-DAY, and being one of the first members of the CS undergraduate webteam.

What advice would you have for incoming students in the field of computer science who were worried about the difficulty of their program?
CMU is one of the top computer science schools in the world; of course itís going to be difficult. But the thing is, anything you want to be good at will throw obstacles at you and make you doubt what you can do. Whether you want to be a great doctor or musician or writer, you will go through times when you hate your field or wonder if youíre in the right place. Making it through the CS program at CMU is not something many people are even given the opportunity to try. Itís important to realize that youíve made it this far and thereís nothing to stop you from being successful at CMU and completing this, sometimes bumpy journey, to SCS alum.

The advances in the field of computer science have lead to a digital revolution. We've seen the birth of the personal computer, the fruition of Moore's law, the rise of the Internet, to name a few. What do you think we'll see next?
I feel that the use of biometric will be a much greater part of our every day life and will be used more and more to protect us, identify us, and make our lives easier.

Describe your current position and it's roles and responsibilities.
Iím currently a software engineer at IBM. I work on the Data Manager component of DB2. A typical day for me includes writing code, designing new features, testing new functions and corresponding with customers about the product. Itís great knowing that some of the largest corporations in the world are executing code that I wrote.

What research projects are you currently working on or completed recently (e.g. describe your work on the e.g. Information Awareness Interface. What is it? Why is it important? What impact has this project made or will make in the field?)
Since Iím still learning about DB2, how it works, and what makes it wonderful, I havenít yet had a chance to go beyond whatís already there. I hope to be able to do get into some research once I have a firm grasp of the system.

If you have any further questions, feel free to contact Agata at