Jeff R. Dong, Computer Science Major
By Pelle Muñoz
Meet Jeff Dong '23, an honors computer science major and undergraduate researcher in the Vision and Immersive Realities (VIR) Lab.
Jeff began his academic journey at UTSA in 2020 at the recommendation of Susan Hoyt, his high school computer science teacher and a UTSA alumna.
Since his childhood, Jeff has been fascinated by the complex subjects of programming and computer science. Equipped with his Game Boy Color, Jeff wondered how the vast virtual worlds of his childhood came to be. As he grew and his love for the field continued to blossom, Jeff shifted his focus to topics surrounding artificial intelligence and machine learning.
What he values most about his discipline is the variety it offers. "The sheer diversity in what computer science can allow you to do and the interesting, complex problems it asks us to solve every day, have fully convinced me that this is the right path for me."
Along with its supportive network of staff and resources available to students, Jeff finds that UTSA’s passionate and outspoken community is what makes UTSA unique. "Not only is there pretty much a club for every interest under the sun, but everyone in those clubs is there to support each other and lift everyone to new heights in what they can accomplish."
During his time as an honors student at UTSA, Jeff worked as a grader and tutor for the Computer Science Department. He appreciates the glimpse he got into the world of education through interacting with his peers. Additionally, he was a member of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), an organization dedicated to serving students through education regarding technology and computing. Jeff also had the opportunity to conduct undergraduate research under Kevin Desai and Qi Lu, UTSA professor and former professor, respectively.
Currently, Jeff is working on a number of personal projects along with his education. Utilizing mathematical concepts, Jeff makes visual, interactive animations and programs. Inspired by 3Blue1Brown (3b1b), a mathematics YouTube channel that promotes inquiry-based visual learning, Jeff took to his public channels to showcase his creativity.
Jeff emphasizes the importance of confronting failure for his academic success. "Often, those things carry a negative connotation and weight to them when they should be the exact opposite: signs of growth and progress," said Jeff. "While [failure] is certainly a far from pleasant experience, making mistakes and experiencing failure is a vital steppingstone to one’s own journey to understanding and mastery in a skill."
To prospective computer science majors and new students as a whole, Jeff stresses the notion that there is no substitute for practice and repetition. "At the end of the day, Computer Science is all about solving problems, building cool programs, and making the most ridiculous of ideas come true," said Jeff. "While sitting down and learning about the theory and best practices is immensely important, what’s equally as important is being able to apply what you’re learning to your own projects outside of class." Jeff believes that most important thing is to stay engaged and work on something outside of class to maximize success.
Jeff is set to graduate in the spring of 2023 with his B.S. in computer science. Once he graduates, he plans on entering the workforce as a data engineer, data analyst, or software designer. Eventually, Jeff hopes to return to UTSA to pursue his Master’s degree.