Nahziair Azel Conway
B.S. in Electrical and Computer Engineering
What inspired you to pursue a STEM-based degree? How did you discover your interest in the field?
What inspired me to pursue a STEM degree was wanting to have a hand at building better machines and really lead the world into an era of technology never dreamed of. I originally discovered my interest in this field while building my first computer in high school. I had a job teaching children and adults how to swim, and used most of the money I made for upgrades and neat little tweaks I heard about online. When I eventually ran out of money, I went around the neighborhood making a couple of bucks troubleshooting friends’ and neighbors’ devices. It was around then that I decided that computers could be the rest of my life and I’d never get bored.
Who within STEM serves as an inspiration for you?
There’s a man named Naval Ravikant who I’ve recently become infatuated with because he represents balance within every aspect of his life. He is the CEO of AngelList, a company that helps start-ups get off the ground, and has invested in tons of companies like Uber, Twitter, Postmates, etc. The reason why he is an inspiration to me is because he is someone who heavily believes in working on yourself and staying away from the modern struggle that is social media and the distractions all around us. He’s not afraid to say what’s on his mind and actually practices what he preaches. He has several good podcasts that give a good introduction to who he is and his values.
How would you describe your experiences as a Black and/or Latino student at the School of Engineering?
I would describe my experience as a Black student at Tandon with one word: incredible. I’ve been able to connect with more people of my color who are only going up and up. Not only that but getting to know that there’s so many success stories from people I relate to gives me even more motivation to do well. It helps me remember that no matter what the scenario or how bad things get, there’s always a solution, everything will turn out fine in the end.
What are your research/professional career goals?
My professional career goals are to create more secure computer systems and identify flaws in large ones, in order to protect not only sensitive data but also the chaos that a break-in may cause. My goal is to work in the Cyber Security/IT field.
What courses were challenging for you? How did those courses better prepare you for what’s ahead?
A course in particular that I had a rough time in was Linear Algebra and Differential Equations. It’s a course that tries to pack in two very large subjects into the span of 14 weeks. It’s very easy to end up behind in that class because anything inside those two topics could trip you up at any moment. Once you’ve gotten the hang of them, you’ll start to realize how much of engineering and math really depend on the content and techniques learned in this area. Whether it be quantum physics, interest rates, or population decline, understanding this robust course is necessary to make sense of things in other areas.
As an underrepresented minority student, is there something that you recognize more that you didn’t think of before attending Tandon?
If there is one thing I’ve started to recognize more while spending time at Tandon it would be that you cannot compare your struggle with someone else’s, especially within your own race. Yes, there are people with similar struggles, but you never know what’s really going on in someone’s life. Even if all you need is someone to give you a chest pound and a “You got this,” others may not find it so easy to push through as you do.
How important is it for incoming minority students to utilize their resources (i.e. professors, counselors, advisors, tutors, etc.)?
When it comes down to your resources, that is a top priority. Always see if NYU already provides the goods or services you’re looking for. You’ll save energy, money, and, most importantly, time. Whatever the situation may be, there is a faculty member at NYU who can get you the information you need. Exhaust all your resources--you’re paying for them anyway!
What advice would you offer to Black and Latino men who are interested in the STEM field?
The advice I would give to Black and Latino men interested in the STEM field is to focus on what you want. Do not give in to what or who you’re “supposed” to be. Find like-minded people and bond with them. Individuals who will hold you responsible for your goals and lift your spirits, and do the same for them in return. Some believe that’s an unrealistic expectation to have of friends; I just think they haven’t found any like that yet.