May 23, 2019 | 73° F

Experts give technology, career advice at ‘Tech Meetup’

Photo by Tyler Gold |

Chris Ghanem, a Rutgers alumnus, who works for InnoviMobile, talks about the importance of the non-technical side of work.

“You’re very perceptive. It does indeed look like a hockey stick,” read the initial presentation shown at the “Tech Meetup” held on Friday night in Center Hall at the Busch Campus Center.

If you weren’t sure, the hockey stick is a good thing — it’s the often cited and highly coveted curve associated with a product approaching critical mass in terms of usage. The statement appeared on a slide above an impressive graph showing a sharp increase in attendance compared to previous events.

Indeed, attendance at this semester’s meet up was record high, according to its organizers. There were few empty seats in the 200-person auditorium where the event was held.

Rutgers Mobile App Development, Undergraduate Student Alliance of Computer Scientists, Women of Computer Science, Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers and the Rutgers Entrepreneurship Society organized the event. Sponsors included the Rutgers tech store Kite+Key, Morgan Stanley and InnoviMobile.

Despite the change in scenery — last semester, the meetup was held in the Busch Campus Center’s Cove — this semester’s meetup followed a similar schedule. Four keynote speakers gave advice on topics varying from how to make a good resume, to the learning potential offered by sites like Hacker News and Reddit.

Mike Swift, a Rutgers alumnus who majored in computer science, opened the event with a compelling talk on “How To Become A Badass Hacker.” Swift, who has spoken at all three “Tech Meetups” since the event was founded last spring, stressed the importance of “getting out of the damn classroom” by learning from any source you can find.

“You have no excuse to not have a personal website,” he said. “I’m tired of seeing personal sites that just say ‘coming soon!’ in big letters. You mean to tell me that you’re a programmer and you can’t throw together some HTML and CSS for a personal website?”

William Mon, another alumnus who is now a software engineer for Morgan Stanley, followed Swift with a presentation called “The 10 Best Pieces of Career Advice I Wish I Received.”

Mon challenged RU Wireless and managed to mostly avoid the RU Screw by giving his talk over Skype.

“People don’t just crank out a masterpiece. It’s often a slow, accumulative process,” Mon said.

Alex Zaltsman and Chris Ghanem, two alumni who now work for business enterprise solutions company InnoviMobile, harped on the importance of being aware of the non-technical sides of work.

“Look at the business, don’t just be a developer. Don’t keep your head in the code all the time,” Zaltsman said.

RutgersFreeFood, an app created by School of Arts and Sciences senior Sam Agnew, is a hungry college student’s best friend. The website does exactly what you’d expect, it lists events at the University providing free food and includes short descriptions.

Agnew, a prolific hacker, is a computer science major who also presented several other apps he created.

“As a developer, the number one thing you need to do is be building stuff,” Agnew said.

ProfileTwist, founded and coded by School of Engineering senior Greg Solak, combines the best of Facebook and LinkedIn with a specific focus on college students. The app, which maintains a large team of university students, lists when different clubs are having events, provides various message boards and compares how much in common a user has with other students at the University.

The official Rutgers Day app, created by Rutgers Business School-Newark/New Brunswick sophomore Vivek Seth and School of Arts and Sciences junior Brendan Parks, allows users to keep track of different events happening during Rutgers Day: The University’s largest annual event. The app pins the locations of different events and activities on a map and provides directions from one place to another.

Other notable apps include WebPeb, a plugin created by Agnew that allows users to navigate the web with a Pebble Smartwatch. “You can punch tabs out of existence!” Agnew excitedly demonstrated.

Navi, a robot created by members of IEEE, generated quite a buzz when it rolled into the room. The robot uses a complicated series of sensors and software to navigate a course entirely on its own.

One of the most fun apps presented was Pokemoney, a take on the popular Twitch Plays Pokemon powered by Venmo payments. Players send commands to the game by sending money to the Pokemoney Venmo account.

Tyler Gold is an intern for The Verge and a self-professed burrito connoisseur. You can follow him on Twitter @tylergold.

Daniel Borowski is a human being and an okay kid. You can follow him on Twitter @borowskidaniel.

By Tyler Gold and Daniel Borowski

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