Jesse Miller became the first graduate of SMU Lyle’s Master of Science in Datacenter Systems Engineering program (M.S. DSE) in December, 2015. Jesse chose to pursue Lyle’s M.S. DSE degree to learn more about datacenters, expand his expertise in operations management, and build a greater understanding of networks and data analytics.
“My education and involvement in datacenters, telecommunications, data networking, and information security technologies in combination with the DSE curriculum have allowed me to contribute to the datacenter ecosystem while serving in a multi-disciplinary role,” stated Miller. “Currently, I am a senior principle systems engineer at Raytheon, responsible for architecting advanced solutions incorporating datacenter facilities, virtualization, cloud computing, and information security technologies for domestic and international opportunities.
“Because these components are tightly integrated into the datacenter environment, the DSE program provided me with an opportunity to leverage the skills and knowledge I gained from my previous degrees,” Miller continued. With a strong foundation in business, telecommunications, and software development underpinning his educational journey and career trajectory, Miller approached the DSE program from both the technical and the managerial perspectives. His insights paid off.
Now on a multi-month international assignment with his present employer, Miller is uniquely positioned with the technical depth and breadth of a multidisciplinary degree to succeed in a complex industry. “This program provides the opportunity to specialize in an area outside your comfort zone, to explore research topics, and gain a better appreciation of the inter-relationships of the technologies existing within datacenters,” Miller added.
In addition to his M.S. in datacenter systems engineering, he holds an MBA in finance from Cox, an M.S. in telecommunications systems management from Lyle, and a B.S. in computer science from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse.
Carol Jordan, M.S. DSE '17, started her career in IT, coming up through the ranks in supervisory and managerial roles. Jordan’s responsibilities for system administration gradually became more technical, eventually landing her the position as data center manager at UC-Santa Cruz.
In her pursuit to gain a deeper understanding of datacenter infrastructure systems, Jordan came across the Master’s in Datacenter Systems Engineering from SMU Lyle. But how could she find the time to earn a master’s degree from halfway across the country?
Jordan was pleased to find this program can be done entirely online through Lyle’s Distance Education Program, a leader in on-demand learning for more than 50 years. “I enjoyed the flexibility to decide when to attend class and work on assignments. It’s a great way to get the benefit of expert instruction but still do the work on your own time. The program delivered academic rigor, not schedule rigor,” Jordan explains.
Jordan’s priority was to learn more about power systems and other mission-critical infrastructure. After completing the core courses, she took two electives in electrical engineering focused on power management and power systems analysis. “It’s all about power. How power is brought in to the data center, how it is managed within the data center, and how it is allocated to customers for clusters, servers and storage devices,” Jordan states. “Power is the most important thing for me to keep an eye on.”
Jordan’s last class was engineering management, one that not only refreshed what she already knew but also broadened her awareness of other issues. “I’ve been a manager for a long time. This course made me reflect on how I do the manager part of my job and made me think about leadership,” Jordan says. “You don’t do any of this kind of work by yourself. You’re always working in teams. I learned how to do that more thoughtfully and effectively.”
As the first woman to earn an M.S. in Datacenter Systems Engineering from Lyle, Jordan encourages more women to enroll in this program and join the industry. “This is an incredibly important, interesting and satisfying field. In a university setting, we have a lot of areas that come together under computing, and at some point, there’s a data center behind it,” Jordan says. “It’s important to know how all these pieces fit together and build a team to make it work well.”
In addition to her M.S. in Datacenter Systems Engineering, Jordan holds an M.B.A. in Finance from the University of San Francisco and a B.S. in Quantitative Business Analysis from Indiana University.
Kulandan Singh, MSDSE’20, decided to join SMU Lyle’s Master of Science in Datacenter Systems Engineering program after much research. Singh knew that he wanted to obtain a master’s degree but finding the right program was key.
“I am a very passionate and motivated person, and I believe in the notion of ‘Do something great so that the world remembers you’”, stated Sing. When asked about what the program provided him, Singh explained that it helped achieve his desired role at his current company and gave him the tools to succeed.
Courses that Singh highlights as especially beneficial are Site Selection for Mission-Critical Facilities, Integrated Risk Management, Systems Reliability Engineering, Engineering Management, Cloud Computing and Computer System Security. When asked about faculty, Singh explains that, “All of the professors at SMU Lyle are out of this world. Dr. Volkan Otugen (my advisor) and Dr. Nand Lal Singh (my program and project management professor) were two professors that were pillars to my success.”
Prior to obtaining his MSDSE degree, Singh obtained a Bachelor’s in Electrical and Electronics Engineering from Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam University in India.
Kulandan currently works at Meta Platforms, Inc. (formerly known as Facebook, Inc.)
Xuemin Zhang is a graduate of SMU Lyle’s Master of Science in Datacenter Systems Engineering program (M.S. DSE) and currently works as a Senior Data Scientist at Discover Financial Services. Xuemin chose to pursue Lyle’s MSDSE degree because it offers flexible learning specialization options across computer science, statistics, and data engineering. Students can choose the specialization that fits with their interests and career goal.
“I chose the data analytics specialization that mainly focuses on machine learning and statistic analytics. The knowledge and skillsets I learned and the project experience I gained in the program helped me land my current job. I am confident that I will continue to develop and grow my knowledge in this field because of the solid foundation the MSDSE program laid for me,” stated Zhang.
“Our world today is undeniably digital and new technologies ranging from the internet and computer science to artificial intelligence will continue to transform the world into a more digitalized future. The MSDSE program offers diverse learning tracks and specializations that cover knowledge across computer science, statistics, machine learning, and data engineering. It’s a perfect fit for someone like me who wants to have a career in data science,” Zhang continued.
When asked what class, project or professor stood out to him, Zhang stated that he highly recommends Michael Hahsler and the course ‘Introduction to Data Mining’ he teaches. Zhang also recommends Eric C. Larson’s course, ‘Python Specialization’.
In addition to his M.S. in Datacenter Systems Engineering, Zhang holds a Bachelor of Engineering degree from Xi’an University of Posts and Telecommunications in China.
Christianah Oni is a graduate of SMU Lyle’s Master of Science in Datacenter Systems Engineering program (M.S. DSE) and currently works in Finance. Christianah chose to pursue Lyle’s MSDSE degree because she was looking to pivot to a new and challenging career in the computer science field.
“Although I work in banking and finance, my education at SMU helped me to understand that my passion was in federal regulations and compliance, which are also critical in data centers,” stated Oni.
When asked what class, project or professor stood out to her, Oni stated that her advisor, Dr. Volkan Otugen, was her pillar throughout the program. Oni also recommends the course ‘Integrated Risk Management’.
In addition to her M.S. in Datacenter Systems Engineering, Oni holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Counselling at Texas Woman’s university and an Associate of Science degree at North Lake College.