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Student Who Helped Set Up Google Talk to Work for Defense

January 11, 2012 – Alex Yale-Loehr (C’12) doesn’t have to worry during his last semester at Georgetown about finding a job – a scholarship he won in 2010 provides him with two years of guaranteed employment with the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) following graduation.

The computer science student holds the extremely competitive Science, Mathematics and Research for Transformation (SMART) Scholarship, supported and administrated by the DOD. The scholarship pays his Georgetown tuition and covers educational opportunities such as paid internships with government laboratories and offices.

“I really enjoy computer science and I think this scholarship is a great way to do research to protect soldiers who are fighting overseas,” Yale-Loehr said. “I will be working for the Topographic Engineering Center (TEC), an Army research lab that focuses on doing research in mapping and geo-spatial data.  The research TEC does is all designed to find ways to help the war fighter.”

Talented Faculty, Students

Before getting the SMART scholarship, Alex spent the summer of 2010 interning for Google in Seattle.

“I think the internship at Google was a great educational opportunity and I was able to interact with some of the smartest, most dedicated individuals in the field,” he said.  “I worked on setting up Google Talk, Google’s instant messaging client, to work with text messaging, so you can send texts right from your computer.”

While Georgetown’s computer science department is small, it is attracting increasing numbers of talented faculty and students, according to its chair, Ophir Frieder, the Robert L. McDevitt, K.S.G., K.C.H.S. and Catherine H. McDevitt L.C.H.S. Chair in Computer Science and Information Processing.

Top 1 Percent

“I think Alex will go on to make substantial contributions to the field,” says associate professor of computer science Mark Maloof, for whom the student served as a teaching assistant. “I would be delighted if he would continue his studies in computer science, but his work at TEC will expose him to a number of new and fascinating areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Academically, Alex can do just about anything he wants.”

In addition to taking several courses with Maloof, including one on artificial intelligence, the student took information retrieval and data mining courses with another associate professor, Nazli Goharian.

“[Yale-Loehr] is very sharp, analytical, motivated and hard working,” she said. “He has been always the top or among the top 1 percent students among our undergraduate students.”

Lots of Directions

Captain of Georgetown’s hockey team for the past two years, Yale-Loehr has worked for the department all four years while conducting research and assistant teaching.

“I came to visit the spring of my senior year of high school for [Georgetown Admission Ambassador Program] GAAP weekend and just fell in love with Georgetown,” he said. “The two things that really struck me were how amazing the area is and how much school spirit everyone had.”

Yale-Loehr said he’s not sure what he’ll do after working for DOD.

“Computer science is a huge and varied field and I haven’t really pinpointed my specific interests in it yet, so there are a lot of directions I could go,” he said. “I’m excited to see what the future will hold.