headshot of Daniel MoncadaDegree & Year Graduated

B.S. Computer Science, 2010

How did you become interested in your field?

I became interested in our field when my Dad took me to Best Buy to buy our first “high-powered” computer when I was in 6th grade. I remember having dialup AOL and being amazed with the Internet and all it had to offer. A few years later, my brother and I got heavily into multi-player gaming (Rainbow 6 via MSDN Zone) and would find ways to create cheats that would give us an advantage over other players. Since then I have always been interested in the many avenues software can bring and the opportunities it provides. Software allows us to build our ideas and innovate in ways that have not yet been done before. I am excited to see computers and software become more integrated into our everyday lives. From wearables, to smart TVs and self-driving cars, the software industry right now is booming and I am happy to be a part of it.

What do you do for a living now? What do you enjoy most about your current career position?

I am currently working as a Software Engineer for a medical device company, designing and implementing the software for a new point-of-care product. What I enjoy most about my current position is knowing that the software I write can one day help save a life. Additionally, I really enjoy the collaboration and problem-solving involved when it comes to coming up with the best solution. Working in an open and agile environment allows my team to collaborate and share ideas, giving me the opportunity to not only learn from others but for others to learn from me.

What have been the biggest challenges in your career?

The biggest challenge I have faced so far in my career is having to find the time outside of my current workload to focus on improving myself as an engineer. This means brushing up on my current skill set, learning a new language or framework, or simply contributing to the open-source community. Because of the dynamic nature of the industry, I feel that it is important to keep learning in order to expand your skills and to stay up to date with current paradigms and technologies.

What is the best professional lesson you learned from the Computer Science Department?

The best professional lesson I have learned from the CS department is to never be afraid to ask questions. Whenever you are uncertain or have any doubt, make sure to clarify, question, or reiterate until you have a thorough understanding. It is better to ask questions up front and ensure that you have a full understanding, rather than to make assumptions and then later find out work needs to be redone.

What was the best class you took? Did you have a favorite Professor?

I did not have a single “best” class, as I felt a lot of the CS classes required for undergraduate were very good. Though, the two that stood out most to me (and that I feel are the most beneficial) were “Data Structures” and “Algorithms and their Analysis”. I learned a great amount of information in both of these classes such as object orientation, threading, and space time complexity. These concepts are important to understand as they are critical to software development in the real world (and are very important when it comes interviewing as well).

Even though I had many good professors at SDSU, I would have to say some of my favorites were Alan Riggins and Kris Stewart. As my undergraduate advisor, Professor Riggins was extremely helpful when I needed advice on career decisions, which classes to take, and what to expect from the CS undergraduate program. Additionally, his office hours were very effective, especially during the time I took “Assembly Language” and “Data Structures” with him. I also really enjoyed the classes I took with Professor Stewart, specifically “3D Game Programming”, where our semester project consisted of creating a FPS using the XNA framework.

What is your favorite memory from the time spent in the department?

My favorite memory from the time I spent in the department was having to do multiple all-nighters in the library whenever I had to work on a huge project/program. This typically involved energy drinks, snacks, and listening to Explosions In the Sky. I remember specifically working on implementing a compiler for the SIC/XE architecture for “Systems Programming” which was taught by Professor Beck at the time. After a few long nights of burning the midnight oil, I finished the project and could not have felt more accomplished. Seeing the fruits of my labor functioning flawlessly was very rewarding, as I never would have thought I had the capability of implementing a compiler.

What advice do you have for our current students?

The advice that I would give to current students is to never give up. If you feel that you are falling behind or if you are having trouble in one of your classes, make sure you go see your professor during office hours. Going to office hours definitely helped me out the most, as professors are willing to help you out any way they can. So, if you can’t get past that bug in your program, or if you are having trouble implementing a linked list, go to office hours – they WILL help.


If you are an SDSU Computer Science alumni and would like to submit an alumni profile for the web site please email tcouri@sdsu.edu