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Alumni Q & A

Jonathan Drake

Jonathan Drake

Jonathan Drake is a Computer Science graduate (B.A. 2011, M.S. 2013). He is currently working as a Software Engineer for Google in Mountain View, California.

Q: Describe your current job.

A: I work on Search as part of the team that ranks the web results you see after making a query. Lately I've focused on Google's understanding of certain classes of natural language queries, such as questions and actions.

Q: What led you to your current position?

A: My thesis under Greg Hamerly was about k-means clustering, a common kind of machine learning. The basic activity of that research is really the same as what I do now in Search Ranking: dream up new algorithms.

Q: What is the most challenging aspect of your job?

A: Getting any one query right is easy. Writing software to handle a particular type of problem while keeping the rest of the spectrum balanced- that's hard.

Q: What is the most rewarding aspect of your job?

A: When the experiments pan out, even a seemingly small change rapidly multiplies its benefits across a really enormous number of users around the world.

Q: How do you see the computer science/software engineering industry changing over the next five years?

A: I expect it to grow. There are plenty of inefficiencies in the world just waiting for computer science.

Q: What/who was your favorite course/professor at Baylor ECS, and why?

A: I’ll answer in Java: throw new IndecisionException ("I have way too many favorites.").

Q: What is the one thing you wish you had known as an undergrad at Baylor ECS?

A: Every part of the university needs the whole university.

Q: What advice would you give to current computer science undergraduate students that are considering a master’s degree or a Ph.D. in computer science?

A: Go for it! Many of my coworkers have advanced degrees too.

Q: What are some of your favorite memories from your time at Baylor ECS?

A: It’s always fun when Rogers Goes Outside. I also really enjoyed working with students as a TA: labs in CSI 3471, reviews for CSI 2350, assembly in CSI 2334.

Q: What advice would you give to current Baylor ECS students who might be interested in pursuing a similar career at Google or elsewhere?

A: Apply! Actually, I didn’t- it seemed like a can of disappointment waiting to be opened- which was a mistake students can avoid. I’m lucky Google Search found me anyway.

Q: What do you do in your free time?

A: I live a bike ride away from the Santa Cruz Mountains. They’re almost as good for trail running as Cameron Park. I take time to visit old friends and family. At home I like making things, from smarter desk lamps to webapps to enchiladas. Also, Netflix.