Soaring to Success
The next time you hear about an F/A-18 Super Hornet fighter aircraft roaring into action, you can be reassured that an NYIT grad, Shanjeetha Kirupananthan (B.S. ’18), helped it take flight. As a software engineer at Boeing’s production facility in St. Louis, Mo., Kirupananthan and her team develop “health management software” for both the F/A-18 Hornet and the Super Hornet. “It’s the equivalent of software used to scan and diagnose a car’s condition at a mechanic shop,” she notes.
Born and raised in the Big Apple, the Stuyvesant High School graduate originally considered architecture before switching to computer science. She credits classes like Senior Design and instructors like Assistant Professor Jonathan Voris, Ph.D., and Director of the Entrepreneurship & Technology Innovation Center Michael Nizich, Ph.D., with preparing her for her current role. Also on Kirupananthan’s thank you list: an Introduction to Software Engineering course taught by Visiting Professor Maherukh Akhtar. “That class made me realize that just because I’m the ‘code creator’ doesn’t mean I call the shots,” Kirupananthan says. “There’s a bigger picture and it involves collaboration with many other teams and multiple iterations to deliver a successful product to a satisfied client.”
During the latter half of her NYIT studies, Kirupananthan tutored fellow NYIT College of Engineering and Computing Sciences undergraduates in Programming I, Programming II, and Operating Systems and became treasurer of the NYIT Association for Computing Machinery (ACM). Those extracurricular activities strengthened her programming chops and honed her communication skills.
“I used to be very shy and quiet with a deadly fear of public speaking,” Kirupananthan says. “My time as a SOAR tutor and ACM treasurer really helped me improve my leadership skills and voice my thoughts, especially in situations with disagreements.”
In the summer of 2017, Kirupananthan landed a software-engineering internship at Cisco in San Francisco. “It was my first exposure to a large multinational company,” she says. “It opened my eyes to how design and collaboration work in the real world.” The experience ultimately helped her land the job at Boeing.
In her spare time, Kirupananthan does yoga and continues to volunteer and mentor others. At FIRST Inspires, a nonprofit dedicated to inspiring young people’s interest in science and technology, she referees Lego League competitions and robot-challenges. Kirupananthan, who didn’t pursue programming until college, says she is continuously dazzled by the competitors—some of whom are as young as six years old.
And while she didn’t know she would be keeping fighter jets aloft when she started her journey, Kirupananthan certainly enjoyed the process of becoming a cutting-edge software engineer. “Make sure you enjoy your choice of study, instead of focusing on getting A’s and a 4.0 and the mindless memorizing and regurgitation,” she advises aspiring coders. “And never sit back and expect opportunities to come to you…The most important part is to get experience, whether through internships or class projects. The more experience you get, the less afraid you’ll be to make mistakes while coding. And that’s the game-changer.”