A Bridge to NYU Tandon: Student shares her journey from non-profits to computer science

Lucia Yu

Graduate student, Lucia Yu

As Lucia Yu was preparing to graduate in 2016 from New York University, she debated how best to incorporate her focus on economics, anthropology and public policy with a burgeoning interest in technology. In her previous internships with New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, the International Legal Foundation, and a market research firm, Yu recognized how technical skills could produce better data collection and solutions for NGOs and civil service industries, and sought an avenue towards increasing her knowledge of computer science before embarking on her career path.

After receiving an email about a new program, A Bridge to NYU Tandon, Yu was immediately attracted to its focus on training students with limited to no prior experience in computer science to transition them into the academic and professional realm of technology. “When I got the email, I started to think, why not me? Why not gain these technical skills and be able to translate that back into public policy work, or work for an NGO,” Yu said. “That’s not necessarily a conventional path, and I thought that by having a niche skill set, and applying it to public policy, I could contribute in ways that would be different and useful for an organization.”

After graduating from NYU and being accepted into the Bridge program, Yu dived headfirst into the intensive, 12-week summer course in computer science — all while traveling through Europe. With the entire course online, Yu explored Europe for the first few weeks of the course all while accessing the lectures in any location and in any time zone. “Being able to have that flexibility to do the lectures whenever you could, including the time difference, was a huge relief off my shoulders,” Yu said. With the program’s condensed structure, and her limited background in computer science, she worked around 40 hours a week to fully comprehend the lessons and complete her assignments. “When it came to really complicated concepts, it took me a lot longer than the week they had given us to learn it,” Yu said. “Especially for someone who was a blank slate, I knew I had to put in a lot of extra effort and time.”

All the time and effort paid off, as Yu secured a spot to enter into to NYU Tandon’s master’s program in computer science. A Bridge to NYU Tandon offers admittance to any qualifying student that completed the course with a B+ average or above to NYU Tandon’s graduate programs in computer science or cybersecurity. Though nervous beginning her first semester of graduate school, Yu understood that if she could “push through and persevere” through the Bridge program, she could do the same in her graduate courses.

Professor of computer science and engineering Nasir Memon, who created A Bridge to Tandon program, expressed his continued amazement at Yu’s mastery of the program and her current coursework. “Without having written a line of code, she was able to stay on top of the Bridge program and do well, and in her first semester, she excelled in her three classes,” Memon said.

Designed to guide students towards a fundamental understanding of computer science, the Bridge program provides its students with a unique perspective on the multidisciplinary applications of computer science. Memon notes that many students discover computer science later on in life or in their academic career, but find a transition daunting. “This Bridge is one mechanism that I thought of that could help them try it out and help them make that switch — one that’s cost-effective and time-efficient,” Memon explained. The program, Memon said, is also geared towards students like Yu who don’t want to abandon their discipline and career path, but recognize the centrality of computer science to new areas within industries “Knowing computer science can make you a better chemist, a better anthropologist, a better psychologist,” Memon said, “Don’t have preconceptions that computer science isn’t for you — it is more than becoming a coder. The world needs people who can take a broader view and approach to problems and combine their own expertise with computer science.”

With one semester under her belt, Yu has a newly discovered fascination with systems infrastructure and machine learning. “I’m really attracted to the idea of using big data to come up with analytics and deliverables that would be really helpful for project directives,” Yu said. “This program has provided me with a lot of options. There are a lot of possibilities for niche needs that could be filled with technology.” Memon describes Yu’s approach towards implementing social good through technology as “inspiring.” “She wants to be an advocate for change, and she is using computer science to design and implement real change,” he said.

A Bridge to NYU Tandon Program Benefits

  • Convenient online format so you can take part from anywhere
  • Accelerated 15-week course format for fall and spring, 12 weeks in summer
  • Live and recorded classes with interactive modules provide a flexible education tailored to your schedule
  • 30-40 hours per week to finish the program
  • Only $1,500 for the entire program (the equivalent of three traditional courses)

The deadline for A Bridge to Tandon 2017 Summer Course application is March 15, 2017. You can submit your application online. For more information on A Bridge to Tandon program, please visit the program webpage.