Coming out of high school, Davenn M. had no idea what he wanted to do. He knew he loved math and the problem-solving of engineering—and ended up trying a couple of different engineering programs before finding the perfect match: informatics.
“I like working with software, but wanted to see the outcome of my work and the results right away. At the same time, I was introduced to the concept of data mining and all of the possibilities for how we can extrapolate information,” Davenn says.
For Davenn, informatics covers all of it— information retrieval and analysis to help find ways to better create and share information.
Davenn has chosen an enterprise path—one of four focus areas offered in the informatics program. “It covers a lot of industrial engineering concepts such as how product lines work and how to interpret data from a business viewpoint,” he says.
That expertise landed Davenn an internship with Progressive, an auto insurance provider, this summer in Colorado Springs. He will be taking customer information and driving statistics and using that to create applications for drivers to use.
“I went to my first Engineering Career Fair in the fall and Progressive was one of the first companies I spoke with,” he says. “The recruiter told me that they don’t see many informatics students but like the broad range of classes and well-rounded experience that the program provides. I interviewed the next day, and within a week was interviewing at the company’s headquarters in Ohio.”
Davenn says that informatics students have a range of opportunities. In addition to the enterprise track, students can follow an interest in landscape analysis or ecological analysis through geoinformatics; find ways to see data move in different ways to create a better understanding through a digital culture track which mixes in arts and media; or develop 3D environments and application for video games across platforms through game design—one of the most popular tracks.
“One thing that I will take away from the informatics program is that I can apply problem-solving techniques to pretty much any situation,” Davenn says.
Gaining work experience
He is gaining extra experience through volunteer work. He recently set up an information website for his parents’ business—a solar products company—enabling them to easily store and retrieve inventory information.
He also created a website and data management system for a high school wrestling tournament at his alma mater, Chino Valley High School.
“It was really cool to see the concepts I had learned apply so easily,” he says.
The diversity of the discipline has also given Davenn a strong network of people and resources. “I have taken classes in geography, industrial engineering, computer systems engineering, computer science, mathematics and statistics, meeting a huge spectrum of people.
I also found my first job on campus through these connections,” he says. Davenn worked in associate professor Robert Atkinson’s lab where they explore and create technologies designed to enhance interactive learning and improve student outcomes. He gained experience setting up and conducting experiments alongside graduate students—and brought his software expertise to help ensure that the experiments stayed on track.
“Informatics is such a broad discipline—basically it is like designing an entire major to fit you. Whatever your interest, you can really dive into it. My learning experience has been amazing—I’ve loved it,” he says.
Outside the classroom
Outside of the classroom, Davenn is involved in Devils Advocates, a group that serves as a point-of-contact to help new students on campus and gives tours and shares insights on the ASU experience with prospective students.
“Engineers are known for not being the most social people. So when you get into an interview situation is a huge plus to have experience speaking well in front of groups, starting a conversation and selling yourself,” he says.
An athlete, Davenn was offered scholarships for track, basketball and golf from other schools. “A lot of kids go out for sports, but few get a job. With an education, whether I am injured or not, I can put my degree to work. ASU provided more educational scholarships than any other school that I applied to,” he says. But he hasn’t given up sports – noting that competition in intramural sports at ASU is fierce.
“Informatics is such a broad discipline—basically it is like designing an entire major to fit you. Whatever your interest, you can really dive into it. My learning experience has been amazing—I’ve loved it.”