What drives me to do engineering college
topic: Trying to get an enginering scholarship
I am driven to apply technology to find excellent solutions.
Making things work in elegant ways is something that excites and motivates me. There is a unique pleasure in creating a device with an elegant design and watching it work correctly, efficiently.
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March 21, 1996


I am driven to apply technology to find excellent solutions.

Making things work in elegant ways is something that excites and motivates me. There is a unique pleasure in creating a device with an elegant design and watching it work correctly, efficiently.

I have learned to how to independently gain the knowledge I need to finish my projects. For example, near the end of my Jr. year in High School, I wanted a challenging and exciting final project. I decided to make a "proof-of-principle" computer. After learning a lot about digital circuits and basic computer design, I assembled a microcomputer based on an Intel 8039 microprocessor. It obviously wasn't advanced by industry standard, I got a lot of satisfaction from watching it work!

I change degenerate tools and procedures into efficient and labor saving solutions. A Chemistry lab I was doing once required reading several hundred data points from a Spectrophotometer. It took a lot of time to take them by hand -- I knew there must be a better way. I happily discovered the 'meter had a data I/O port on it and proceeded to bridge the hardware and software gap and produce a Data-Acquisition system for my HP48 calculator. The result was I could finish the lab in about 10 minutes instead of a couple hours!

I believe in "learn by doing." Many times the most useful result of a project is not the physical product, but the knowledge gained a long the way. I wanted to learn UNIX, so I configured a UNIX machine for public-access email and ran it from my house.

While I was still in High School, I took several advanced Computer Science classes at UW-Milwaukee and Caroll College in Waukesha.

Professional Goals

I am frustrated by the gap between what is possible and what is available. I am going to help fix that problem by continuously learning, and applying technology to find novel solutions.

I am specializing in Digital Systems and Computer Architecture because I am excited by the fast paced development happening in that arena. My already broad and increasing background knowledge of software development, networking, and technology is a solid base which will launch me into a fruitful professional career in the years ahead. Right now I am actively seeking a challenging internship for the coming summer. Intel, HP, and IBM have already shown interest.

Background Experience

I have been programming computers since I was 11. Since then I have taught myself Basic, Pascal, C, C++, LISP, Prolog, Perl, Awk, and a collection of scripting languages. In addition, I have experience administering and using UNIX, DOS/Windows, and OS/2, including networked configurations of each.

I have been tinkering with old electrical equipment in my basement for as long as I can remember. My dad is an EE from Madison and we have quite a collection of stuff in our basement. It's great!

I am very competitive in my work and play. I have played soccer since I was 10, and am highly motivated to do well in classes I enjoy.

Some of my current projects include Linux, TCP/IP applications and networking, parallel processing and programming, Ray Tracing, HTML/WWW, and Telecommunications.

Community Achievements

When introduced to a new environment, I excel to a position in which others look up to my ideas or recognize me as a leader.

When I was running a computer bulletin board system, I was a member of a community of other System Operators of similar systems. As I gained technical skills dealing with those issues, I became a more prominent citizen of that group. After I had researched the market, developed, and marketed several programs, I was invited as a speaker to a Searchlight BBS Conference in Toronto where I gave a talk on "Connecting your Searchlight BBS to the Internet."

In high school, as a member of a diverse Academic Decathlon team, I was consulted for math and science knowledge. I was also a consistent leading member of our Math Team, which won the conference title 2 years in a row, and the Science team, which placed 2nd in our division in the National JETS competition.


I enjoy mountain biking, snowboarding, and playing soccer. I find each has its own challenges and satisfaction.

One activity that I really love is recreational reading, although a busy school and work schedule doesn't leave much time for it. My favorite book of all time is Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand, whose heros are powerful, intelligent industrialists, scientists, and engineers. These people provide the motive power for the world, and are my presonal heroes.

[Zak Smith] [zak@computer.org] [/~zak/documents/college/briefzak/html]
$Id: documents,v 1.5 2000/09/28 21:20:39 zak Exp zak $
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