Central Processing Unit Architect, Intel
Talk to Khary Alexander even for just a few moments, and his focus and determination immediately become apparent. That’s especially true when he discusses emigrating from Grenada, an island in the Caribbean, to Brooklyn, to attend NYU Tandon, then known as Polytechnic University.
Always good at science and math, Alexander enjoyed reverse-engineering anything he could find, and after he attended a summer coding program, he decided on a STEM-focused career path. Grenada’s economy was based largely on agriculture and tourism, however, so the U.S. beckoned — specifically Brooklyn, where his mother had already settled.
He had heard a lot about Poly’s reputation and standing, so although he was accepted into several other schools, including some that might have been more affordable for him, the choice seemed clear.
Already grappling with the shock of landing in an entirely new country and culture, Alexander was faced with another revelation: Poly had more than its share of students who hailed from Stuyvesant, Bronx Science, and Brooklyn Tech — among the most competitive high schools in the nation — and he was going to need to keep up. Adding to that, most had several advanced placement courses under their belts, and many had been admitted into an accelerated program that would allow them to earn both their bachelor’s and master’s degrees in the space of four years.
Determined to do the same, Alexander — who started out interested in civil engineering before pivoting to computer engineering — entered the program a semester late and studied hard enough to catch up quickly. Making that accomplishment all the more impressive was the fact that he was juggling not only a heavy course load but several jobs: to supplement the financial aid he had been granted, he worked as a teaching assistant and a math tutor, and he also took on co-ops almost every semester at Con-Ed. (That’s not to mention the summer internships at Lucent and Gillette, the latter the result of winning a National Urban League scholarship the company sponsored.)
Before graduating in 2002, Alexander showed his characteristic determination and, after inadvertently being left off the company’s initial roster of Poly students being interviewed, cold-called a recruiter from IBM. Winning that job, he ascended the ranks at the tech giant before setting off for the more temperate climes of Austin to work at Qualcomm. (His wife, a fellow Grenadian whom he had met while attending church camp as children, did not enjoy winters in the Northeast.)
Now a Central Processing Unit Architect at Intel, his focus is on Cloud Computing, Internet of Things (IoT) technology, and 5G connectivity. Every day is exciting and new, he says, and he credits several factors, including his time at the Grenada Boys Secondary School; his tenure at IBM, which provided so many opportunities for growth; and his deeply religious upbringing. Polytechnic University, he says, also gave him the knowledge and skills he now consistently leverages at his job. “I had a very project-based, hands-on education that also taught me the importance of teamwork,” he says, “and that has served me very well in my career.”