Jason Leppelmeier: From Philosophy Undergrad to Data Engineer with the MS in Computer Science & Information Systems

Jason Leppelmeier earned his MS in Computer Science & Information Systems in April 2019

Jason Leppelmeier only applied to one program when he was ready to earn his master’s degree—The MS in Computer Science & Information Systems at the University of Michigan-Flint.

Two factors stood out to Jason when he was making a decision:

  • He could to complete his coursework online or in-person, which was important since he often traveled for work.
  • The UM-Flint program offers a “fast track” option for learners who don’t have a Computer Science/Information Systems bachelor’s degree.

Jason originally studied philosophy, with designs on philosophy graduate school. But, as Jason relates, “life happened” and he worked on factory floors for several years after graduating. He knew that a master’s degree would help him grow in his career, and Jason was able to complete the UM-Flint MS in Computer Science & Information Systems while working full-time servicing scientific laboratory equipment around the country.

Cyber Classrooms record every lecture and allow distance learners to get the full classroom experience.

“Since Computer Science courses are offered both for distance-learners and on-campus students, I liked that I could tell prospective employers that I did exactly the work remotely as on-campus students,” Jason says.

Jason earned his master’s in April 2019, but he took the next step in his career before even finishing his degree. In November 2018, Jason started as a Data Engineer at Aunalytics, a data consulting firm based in South Bend, Indiana. He develops data pipelines that are used in AI and machine learning systems. His experience with the MS in Computer Science & Information Systems was instrumental in gaining this position.

“When I started interviewing in industry, employers were most concerned with my understanding the fundamentals and the deeper theory behind them,” Jason says. “If I could show that I had some experience with applying my learning, they felt like I’d be able to do that with their systems.”

Jason had plenty of opportunities for applied learning while completing his master’s. In his artificial intelligence class, Jason developed a speech recognition system for Arabic digits which was 94% accurate. In a data mining course, Jason developed a system which could identify whether the sentiments of a tweet toward an organization are positive or negative. Professors that are available for questions and brainstorming—like Dr. Michael Farmer in artificial intelligence and Dr. Halil Bisgin in data mining—were invaluable resources for Jason.  

“In interviews, the first thing employers wanted to know was about what projects I completed and what my role was, so having professors that can guide you was very important,” Jason says. “The class sizes and accessibility of professors were always positive things for me. I was surprised at how much my professors were willing to help.”

Interested in getting started on your own path to success? The application for the MS in Computer Science & Information Systems is available online. You can also contact the Program Manager, Susie Churchill, at vissers@umich.edu or 810.762.0916.