Sometimes, if you’re freshmen Cristina Cruz and Shinjini Damani searching for academic gold, you need to get away.
Other times, if you’re freshman Bril Kante facing a similar academic quest, close to home matters most.
For computer science majors Cruz and Kante, data science major Damani, and all of the Luddy School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering-record 500-plus-person freshman class who participated in the recent three-day orientation-and-induction event, Luddy opportunities were too great to pass up.
Cruz comes from Costa Rica, and Damani from India. Kante is a former Bloomington High School North academic and athletic standout.
“Luddy was more flexible in terms of other majors I could do,” said Damani, who hopes to incorporate her data-science major, plus minors in marketing and environmental sustainability, into a fashion career. “There are so many interesting things to do here.”
That includes joining Women in Computing, one of Luddy’s 20-plus student organizations.
Those opportunities also drew Cruz.
“The Luddy School offers a lot of resources,” Cruz said. “It provides a great environment for learning. I liked that.”
Kante got an early look at that environment. He had a Luddy internship last year while still a high school senior.
“It was exploratory to see if I was interested in coding,” he said. “I learned a couple of (computer) languages.
“I liked it, so I decided this is where I wanted to spend the next four years of my life.”
There’s plenty to like at Luddy with majors in computer science, data science, intelligent systems engineering, informatics, cybersecurity and global policy, plus an upcoming major in microelectrical engineering.
As Tiana Iruoje, director of student engagement and success, emphasized during Luddy’s first-ever orientation-and-induction event, stay connected and get involved.
“What you give is what you get,” she said. “The more you engage, the more success you’ll have.”
Cruz was all in.
“I know you can explore different areas and majors. I really want to do that.”
With several exciting travel opportunities, including California’s Silicon Valley, Florida’s Disney World and the African country of Ghana, exploration can go well beyond the classroom.
“I saw some of it last year,” Kante says, “but I didn’t get a chance to dive into it. It looked very interesting. I’m here to figure out what’s going to happen.”
One possibility for him -- the National Society of Black Engineers.
With a cognate in software engineering, Kante says becoming a software engineer is a possibility. Financial security is a priority.
“Software engineers make good money,” he said with a smile, “so whoever pays the most.”
Luddy Dean Joanna Millunchick used the event to emphasize the school’s difference-making possibilities. She told the freshmen they had arrived at an exciting time with the emergence of artificial intelligence and other technological breakthroughs, and that they would create new tools to combine humanity with technology and ensure AI makes the world better.
“That’s our superpower,” she said. “That’s what makes us unique.”
Paul Macklin, associate dean for undergraduate education, said not only was this Luddy’s largest-ever freshman class, but also its best prepared with a combined grade point average of 3.91 and an average SAT score of more than 1,300. He said Luddy graduates have a 99 percent success rate in finding jobs, with starting salaries ranging from $76,000 to more than $81,000 depending on the major.
He emphasized taking advantage of the “incredible opportunity to grow and become your better self.” That included taking internships and utilizing career services.
“Take risks,” he said. “Join organizations. Discover who you are.”
Selma Šabanović, associate dean for faculty affairs, encouraged students to explore different opportunities and to be open minded. She said failing is part of learning and to take advantage of Luddy’s extensive resources.
“We’re here to support you.”
The emergence of artificial intelligence drew Chase Martin, an Intelligent Systems Engineer major out of Indianapolis. So did Luddy’s state-of-the-art facilities, including Luddy Hall and the Luddy Artificial Intelligence Center. It also didn’t hurt that his father is an IU alum.
“With the recent explosion of interest in AI, it’s something you can apply anywhere,” Martin said. “It’s a good area to get into.
“I also was impressed with how new everything is. It’s so modern. It caught my eye.”
Luddy facilities also were a big draw for Evansville’s Caden Batts, a computer science major.
“When I went for orientation, the building seemed so new and nice. You can tell IU puts a lot of care into it. That was important. I also really liked the computer science program.”
He’s interested in exploring software development and IT.
Data Science major Mimi Murphy, who is from Oak Park, Illinois, said she chose the Luddy School because of its welcoming environment and because she’s “a numbers girl.”
“I like statistics and coding.”
As far as a career, she said she might start a consulting firm, “and go from there.”
Computer Science major Molly Price said she couldn’t have gotten so much information so fast at any other school. Peer mentors made what could have been an overwhelming experience into something personal and special.
“Everybody has such a love for what they’re doing,” she said. “Our peer mentors turned this big campus into a group of eight people who will help me if I need it.”
Price, who is from Speedway, Ind., seeks a career in software development and perhaps start her own business. She praised Luddy’s Living Learning Center, saying it was a big reason why she came to IU.
“It creates such a loving community.”
It’s also a competitive one. That was showcased during a tech innovation design challenge, one of multiple activities provided during the three-day event.
It was exactly what Indianapolis computer science major Emma Pletcher was looking for.
“I’ve always wanted to go to IU, and I thought computer science was a good opportunity,” she said. “I’m excited and nervous.”
For now, her career goal centers on software engineering, but she is open to other possibilities.
Carleigh Hannon, director of Career Services, said studies show members of this freshman class could live to be 100, and will have five to eight careers.
Her advice: be curious and know that Career Services can help.
That help, and all the other opportunities, made the Luddy School an obvious choice for Braden Pool, a computer science major from Bloomington, Illinois, with an interest in cybersecurity.
“I visited a lot of colleges,” he said, “but once I visited IU and Luddy Hall, I knew this was where I belonged. It just clicked for me. It was something I didn’t find anywhere else. I knew I had to be here.”
Now that he is here, Pool said he wants to make a difference.
“I’m not sure what that means yet, but through Career Services and the amazing faculty, I’ll find some way to make a difference in the world.”