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Meet a Science Grad: Justin Ihara

By College of Science

The following interview is part of a series the College of Science conducted with some of our alumni. While their experiences and career paths vary widely, their passion for science and love for the College and OSU tie them together.

Justin Ihara

Major: Mathematics and Computer Science (’09)
Occupation: MES Architect, Axonics Inc.

Why did you choose to study at OSU?

I enjoy solving technically complex problems which seem to present themselves more often in science.

What led you to choose your major and career path?

My original intention was to become a math teacher. Later, after looking for a career change, I was reading a news article on the top 50 jobs in the U.S. There was a noticeably large number related to computer science, which led me to my computer science degree and current career that I am happy with.

How did the College of Science prepare you for your future career?

I learned more about how to approach problems, how to research them and how to collaborate with others to find solutions.

Describe your career? How are you making a difference?

I currently work with software systems that are responsible for the guidance, automation, quality and data capture for manufacturing equipment and components for genome sequencing. Genome sequencing has very widespread applications, from vaccine development to prescriptive cancer treatment to newborn genomic screening.

What might people be surprised to learn about your profession?

Software engineers still need to have people skills.

How were you involved in the OSU community?

I was president of my dorm, a member of the Honors College Council, a member of the Faculty Senate, in bowling club, judo club, and cycling club, volunteered for the bug zoo, tutored and much more.

What is one favorite College of Science memory?

I was part of a cohort of math students who were all taking upper-division math classes. We ended up spending a lot of time together, hanging out and studying, even on weekends. To this day we are still friends and have attended each other's weddings amongst other things.

Was there a particular professor or advisor who made an impact in your undergraduate career?

Dr. Lea Murphy and Dr. Harold Parks, both professors of emeriti, were very personable people that made very difficult subject matters a little bit more enjoyable and understandable. Shout out to Dr. Bryan Tilt, professor in the College of Liberal Arts, for interesting conversations.

What did you do for fun to de-stress from schoolwork?

I de-stressed by playing sports, watching OSU sporting events, spending time with friends and making the occasional trip to the Peacock or McMenamins.

If you could give a future College of Science student advice, what would it be?

It's never too early to start looking at jobs and job requirements for after college. Classes will give you plenty of knowledge, but you can certainly boost your marketability by additional independent learning that is applicable to your desired position.