Computers are a mainstay of everyday life nowadays – everything seems to have a computer chip of some sort in it, whether it be the “smart” technology in your car that allows it to park itself or the fancy coffee makers that seem to know exactly how much of each ingredient to use to make the perfect latte. Having a background in computers is necessary for anyone in the business world today, as we are so interconnected through email and other online forms of communication, and now the business world is finding that companies small and large need to have a dedicated staff not only supporting the company’s own infrastructure and computer systems but formulating new code and improved technologies to go into their products and services. Houstonian Erin Lytle talks about her education at Rice University and how it has helped her build a career in computer science.

(Photo Courtesy of Erin Lytle)

(Photo Courtesy of Erin Lytle)

What degree program did you study?

“Electrical and Computer Engineering. Also History, but it has so little to do with my current role.”

What does your current job entail?

“Firmware programming for flash-based servers.”

Do you feel your education prepared you for your current role?

“Actually, yes, more so the computer science classes that I took than the electrical engineering classes. The hardcore EE classes give me an idea of what product we sell, but they don’t help in my day-to-day. The German classes let me explain the incorrect verb tenses in function and variable names.”

Do you have any advice for people wanting to pursue a similar career?

“Theoretical classes are good to get an idea of the methodology of programming, but it’s also important to get hands-on experience with common programming languages. Also, be able to take criticism for your code and be able to work with people. At big companies, the code base will not be yours alone.”

Gillian Kruse is a freelance writer living in Houston. She graduated from Rice University with a great love for all performing and visual arts. She enjoys writing about arts and cultural events, especially little-known ones, to help Houstonians learn about what’s going on in their city. Her work can be found at


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