Spotlight: Undergraduate Joseph Colicchio

Personal Info

Joseph Colicchio

Senior - Class of 2014, June 2014

Hometown: Anaheim, CA

Student Organization Memberships: I've been a fairly active member of IEEE, holding an officer position junior year.

CS Program Experience

Favorite class at UCSB:  CS40 with Phill Conrad and CS138 with Amr El Abbadi

What are your favorite things about UCSB?

I've taken up surfing recently, so proximity to the beach is pretty cool. That kind of goes hand in hand with the weather in Santa Barbara; it's always so nice out! For better or for worse, living in Isla Vista has been an interesting experience, and I'll certainly never forget my first Halloween!

What advice would you give to an incoming student to UCSB?

As a freshman, you should take every opportunity you're given, go meet new people, try new things, immerse yourself in all that UCSB has to offer! Go to office hours whether you need help with homework or just want to chat with your professor. There's always something cool to talk about. Finally, work on programming projects in your spare time! This is absolutely key for getting an internship and the experience helps you do better in CS classes and programming in general.

What advice would you give to a parent of an incoming UCSB student?

My freshman year  I had a roommate who went home every two weeks so that his parents could do his laundry. Don't be that parent. College is a time for students to learn some independence, to make their own choices and to take care of themselves.

What was your most challenging but rewarding course and how did you overcome it?

Hands down, the toughest class I took was CS170 (Operating Systems).  It has a reputation for being the hardest required CS undergraduate class. I got through it only by spending more hours than I care to admit at the CSIL computer lab, just hacking away at it until I had something passable.

Are there any specific classes that you are looking forward to?

I'm graduating in a quarter, so I'm currently enrolled in all of my final classes. That being said, CS165A (Artificial Intelligence) looks promising.

Have you done an internship?

I'm currently interning at Novacoast and planning to go full-time when I graduate. I'm essentially getting paid to do what I love so it has definitely been a rewarding experience. Internships are absolutely a good idea to look into as early as sophomore year.  Internships are something that can set you apart from the herd, so to speak, and can help you get a better idea of what you want to do after graduation.

Have you done research in the Computer Science department?

I have not done research within CS.

Where do you see yourself after graduation?

I plan to transition from intern to full-time developer at Novacoast, living in Goleta or downtown Santa Barbara and, hopefully, traveling for work or leisure. This summer I'm planning on going backpacking in Europe with a couple of friends from high school.

Who were your high school mentor(s)?

Halfway through sophomore year of high school I joined yearbook as a photographer. Since the other students had worked closely together for a few months, I felt like an outsider to the group until a photographer who was a year ahead of me took me under his wing and dragged me out of my social shell, so to speak. I'm the oldest child in my family so I'd never really had someone around my age to look up to until I joined yearbook. Whether it was hanging out in class, taking photos for a school event, or working after hours with the yearbook teacher, he was there to answer questions or give me advice on just about anything.  When I think about the person I am today it's hard not to remember him as someone who helped to shape that person.

Favorite High School Class

Yearbook, easily. I was a yearbook photographer for a year and a half and some of my fondest memories in high school are of that class and my fellow yearbook students.

Share what your college search was like.

I only visited a couple of campuses, Santa Barbara being the most memorable by far. I pretty much knew I wanted to go to a UC campus so when I got my acceptance letters and reviewed my options, it was kind of a no-brainer. Looking back, I wouldn't have it any other way.

Are there any classes that you suggest CS students take before entering UCSB? Why?

I've been programming since I was 10 or 11 and that experience allowed me to have an easier time with most of the lower-division CS classes. Having such a strong background in programming certainly helped with upper division classes as well. It's kind of like speaking a foreign language, in a way, so get as much practice speaking it as possible!

What prepared you the most for studying Computer Science in College?

My extensive programming experience and interest in programming made Computer Science a natural choice for me.

Are there any additional things that you would like to share with students to help them prepare for college?

Bike theft is the #1 crime committed at UCSB, so buy a sturdy bike lock!

What is the social scene like for Computer Science students?

I don't think it's all that different from any other major, aside from the fact that CS students tend to be a bit introverted (myself included). There are a couple of notable organizations for CS, CE, and EE majors, IEEE and ACM being the big ones. You also get to know or, at least know of, most of the other CS students in your year since they're in all the same classes with you. Other than that, nothing's stopping you from joining any other organization you're interested in and it's not like there are major-specific parties you won't be invited to because you're a CS major.

Describe your housing situation.

Currently, I'm living in a 3-bedroom, 2-bath, 2-refrigerator apartment in the heart of Isla Vista with 5 other engineers. It's great having roommates with similar interests and I'm almost always in one or two CS classes with another roommate, so keeping track of homework, midterms, etc. is a little easier.