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Zachary DeMaris


CPRE494 Cumulative Reflection

I always knew I wanted to attend Iowa State University from an early class trip in high school.
What I wanted to major in at Iowa State was a mystery to me even after the week of classes freshman
year. I originally started off in aerospace engineering. During my first week I attended a club meeting
and overheard some of the senior club members talking about computer engineering. What they were
saying intrigued me. They said something along the lines of “its easy to get a job in computer
engineering” and just like that the next day I switched my major. At the time it was probably not the
most informed decision I could have made but now that I am a senior looking back, I can’t say it was a
good decision.

My first class in computer engineering after switching my major, CPRE185, was very intimidating
for me. I had almost no experience programming and thought you had to be a computer genius to be in
the class. I was extra determined to succeed in the class. I think the “problem solving” in the course title
was very accurate. I hard to work really hard to do well, and I think the struggle taught me a valuable
lesson that I have kept with me: if there’s a problem there’s a solution.

There has been a lot of factors that have contributed to my success as a student. A big one is my
willingness to use any resource at my disposal to accomplish a goal. When I was young in the computer
engineering program, I struggled with courses such as math and physics, just like everyone else.
However, instead of struggling by myself I used things like Supplemental Instruction, office hours, and
collaborating with classmates. I feel that many people do not reach out for help when they don’t
understand a problem. My natural curiosity and willingness to ask questions in combinations with these
resources has benefited my tremendously.

I think one of the best decisions I have made while going to school is choosing internships that
allow me to continue through school year. What most people only get to spend 3-4 months of the
summer doing, I have done every day since sophomore year. The continued learning experience has
been great. The two places I’ve interned, General Dynamics and Collins Aerospace both allowed me to
continue working through the school year. Not only did I gain a lot of extra technical experience, I also
learned how to balance time between school and work. It has taught me that to take always take
advantage of extra learning opportunities.

One thing I wish I could change is the amount of on campus activities I did. I have been so
occupied with school and work that I have had little time to take advantage of some of great
engineering and non-engineering opportunities Iowa State has. However, I still try to make time for at
least some extra-curriculars. I have been a student ambassador for the ECpE department ever since my
sophomore year. I have learned a lot about presenting to different types of audiences and improved
overall as a leader.

Looking back at my time at Iowa State I have few regrets. Overall, it has been a great experience
that I will remember for the rest of my life. I have accomplished more than I ever thought I would and
have met great people. As graduation is coming up, I am ready to start my career as a full-time engineer.
I also plan to continue as a part time student pursuing my Master of Engineering online. I can’t wait to
see what challenges and opportunities present themselves after graduation. I feel comfort in knowing
that what I have learned at Iowa State will help me with wherever life takes me.