frank oplinger '18
Like many others entering college, I was largely unsure of exactly what I wanted to study. A liberal arts education at HWS offered me the opportunity to be exposed to many different fields of study very early on in my undergraduate experience. My interest in the engineering joint degree program led me to the Physics department in which I was immediately drawn to the close knit community of both students and professors. Through the Physics department, I had the opportunity to participate in HWS's RockSat-C program with Associate Professor of Physics Ileana Dumitriu. RockSat-C gives students the chance to build a sounding rocket payload that is eventually launched into space from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility. Participating in the RockSat-C project allowed me to realize my interest in coding and computer science. I quickly enrolled in more computer science courses and again, like the Physics department, found a department comprised of fantastic professors and opportunities to explore my interests outside of the classroom. One of the aforementioned opportunities was an honors project with Professor of Mathematics & Computer Science David Eck which allowed me to combine my interests in ice hockey and coding by building a software application for the generation of advanced hockey analytics.
Not only did HWS allow me to realize and develop my interest in a career in software engineering, but the nature of doing so at a liberal arts college exposed me to many other fields of study while pursuing my degrees. This exposure gave me direction as to which industries I hoped to work in and how I wanted to apply my intrigue for software engineering. Specifically, I cultivated an interest in environmental studies and have been fortunate enough to find a way to combine that interest with my passion for computer science. Today, I am a software engineer at Raptor Maps, a Y Combinator startup focused on enabling the solar industry to efficiently scale by providing software tools to increase solar performance and reduce cost. At Raptor Maps, I lead a team of engineers focused on the automated processing of aerial thermographic imagery of solar fields. Our work enables the classification and localization of solar panel defects using drone-captured thermal images.
HWS has been instrumental in my career thus far. The alumni network of the Computer Science department helped me land my first position as a software engineer before joining Raptor Maps. The relationships I was able to build with my professors provided me with a wide range of opportunities both in and out of the classroom that cultivated and refined my academic interests. My time as a student athlete on the Hobart ice hockey team provided me invaluable experience working within a team that I lean on in my professional career today. While I am still not entirely sure of how I want my career to progress, I am very grateful for the professors, coaches and mentors at HWS for helping me get to where I am today.