Alumni Spotlight — Rob Stark
Rob Stark, BSDAS 2010, is the founder of Bespeckle Inc. He previously worked for over ten years in software engineering roles for companies such as Altera, Ayasdi, and Google, before starting his current business, where he and his team work to integrate geospatial data software with Cloud technology.
In what ways did your Digital Arts and Sciences experience prepare you for your career?
I was always interested in digital art but only pursued engineering to start with because of familial pressure. So I began as an electrical engineer, but through it, I met a friend who was like “Oh, if you’re in the arts and still want to do a stem degree, then DS is this thing you can do.” In [Digital Worlds], I got to do a lot more graphics and front-end-oriented work, which was a lot more interesting to me. In fact, the first job I got after college was specifically because of the graphics work I did. They were looking for people who do exactly that. The fact that I was able to do digital front-end stuff, and at the same time use other core computer science, backend work — I could really work on anything.
What do you like about your current career?
I’ve always wanted to be an entrepreneur and start my own company. As a result of that drive, I’ve pursued a career where I work in a little bit of everything. I have gotten to work in pretty much all parts of technology: in robotics computer vision, Cloud back-end stuff, I spent a couple years at Google, I’ve gotten to work at artificial intelligence startups. But wanting to be an entrepreneur, the best way to build a product is to see how these different portions of the technology industry work together. That tends to be where there are the best places to implement a company. The fact that I’ve gotten to work across so many different technologies and never really had to worry about becoming redundant is probably the thing I like the most.
What are some of your favorite memories from when you were in the program?
Getting to build a game together with a couple of my friends from class. That was fun and also super stressful, because you go into that class thinking, “This isn’t a big deal, I know how to build these things.” Then you actually get down to it and realize there’s a lot of new things you didn’t really think about ahead of time. Also, getting to work with a couple of people you create friendships with over time. [Digital Worlds] was a pretty small program still when I was there. Pretty much everybody, I had core classes with, I became friends with. You might do a big project for a class, but when it’s with a bunch of your friends, it’s okay.
What advice would you give to current students?
Embrace being specific with your career goals. A lot of my friends went into their careers like wanting very, very specific things. The reality is that it’s just like human populations — in any group of people, there’s just as much variability within that group as there is outside of it. It’s the same with careers. Your career can be incredibly diverse, so it’s really good to not want extremely specific things and instead just go after more general, broad goals.