Spotlight on CMDA Student Parsa Zand


Reflecting on the Program . . .

Tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from? What drew you to Virginia Tech?

I grew up in McLean, VA and went to Thomas Jefferson High School in Alexandria, VA. I came to Virginia Tech because I wanted to study computational science in a big school with a STEM focus.

What are you majoring in (primary, secondary, minors, concentrations, as applicable)?

I’m majoring in Computational Modeling and Data Analytics (CMDA) and minoring in Computer Science.

What, specifically, drew you to enrolling in CMDA?

My favorite subjects in high school were Math, Statistics, and Computer Science. CMDA incorporates all three subjects as well as how to bring them all together.

What has been your favorite part about the CMDA Program?

I really like how broad CMDA is. Because of the exposure to several different subjects, I’ve had the opportunity to take my career in many different directions.

What has been the most challenging part about the CMDA Program?

The pair of integrated quantitative science courses (CMDA 2005/2006) were easily the hardest courses I’ve taken at Tech. However, they were incredibly valuable and gave me a strong foundation to build on with the rest of my degree.

How do you think CMDA differs from traditional Math, Statistics and Computer Science classes?

Math, Statistics, and Computer Science skills are all powerful on their own. However, there’s an incredible demand for students who understand all three and can put them all together. Having exposure to all three subjects is important, but being able to understand how they work together has really helped me stand out in my internships.

Have you interned anywhere? If so, where did you work? Can you describe your experience?

I spent the summer after my freshman year as a consulting intern for Booz Allen Hamilton. At BAH I supported the Department of Veterans Affairs and employed my CMDA skills to analyze the VA’s Information Technology Budget. Last summer, I was a technical sales intern at IBM where I built product demonstrations of IBM’s data science tools. During the school year, I work part-time at Excella Consulting’s Extension Center in Blacksburg where I develop software for clients in the DC area.  

How is your CMDA Capstone Project going?

Great! My team is analyzing some of the Math Emporium’s data to help their fantastic team of educators better understand their courses and students. 

What are your career goals? Both short term and long term?

I’ll be joining Microsoft as a Program Manager after graduation! At Microsoft I’ll be able to combine the technical skills I’ve picked up in school while also being able to work on the technology I’ve always been passionate about. In the long term, I hope to become an author or an educator and help mentor the next generation.

What impact do you hope to have on the world? How will your CMDA degree help you with this?

I’ve always wanted to work on technology that will have a worldwide impact. I’m very thankful to have studied CMDA and been given the skills and opportunities to work on projects and products that touch countless lives.

What are you most looking forward to after you graduate?

I’m moving to Seattle after graduation! I’m excited to start my career in a new city on the West Coast!

What has been the highlight of your Hokie career so far?

I’m a big food guy and VT dining has absolutely lived up to the hype.