TechConneXt Hacker Gets Full Ride to LSU

Southern University student to earn Ph.D. in comp sci

EJ looks up while conferring with his team at the BE Smart Hackathon. (Image: File)
EJ looks up while conferring with his team at the BE Smart Hackathon. (Image: File)

Congratulations are in order. Egbeyong Tanjong, also known as EJ, has been granted a full assistantship—all expenses paid—to earn a Ph.D. in computer science at Louisiana State University. The Southern University senior will begin graduate school this fall.

BE Smart sat down and spoke with Tanjong, who will be graduating from Southern, a historically black university, this semester.

What are you planning to study at LSU?

Data analytics. I am very quantitative—data analytics is where computer science and my skills converge. By becoming an expert in data analytics I will be best able to express myself and my skills.

LSU is a great research university. It’s a good match for me because it’s strong in the data science field.

Is your family in Louisiana?

I am here all by myself. My family is in Cameroon. I moved to the U.S. in January 2013, when I started at Southern. I came to the U.S. to go to college.

Why are you studying for a Ph.D. and not a master’s?

I believe studying for a Ph.D. is the right track, because eventually, in terms of career and money, the sky will be my limit, because a doctoral degree is the ultimate.

One other reason is, I feel that my greatest gift is my mind. I want to stretch my mind to hopefully stretch the bounds of knowledge.

You participated in the BE Smart Hackathon in October. Have you been able to leverage that experience, and if so, in what ways?

I got selected to go to the BE Smart Hackathon by the chair of my department. It was a great experience, because I was given the chance to network with my peers in other schools. I was able to get a true evaluation of my skill set and the areas that needed more development.

The mentors that assisted us during the hackathon were really helpful. They provided tapes and materials that have remained concrete in my mind.

I can never forget the feedback from the judges, which was great, and I take it with me wherever I go.

Most importantly, what really guided my choice was the tour of the AT&T Foundry, where I met data analytic tech experts.

They gave me a brief account of their backgrounds, and what concentrations they had—that helped me in looking for schools.

They told me exactly what their job entailed and the software they need. When I was looking at schools, I thought in terms of the work those data scientists did.

After the BE Smart Hackathon, I was determined to share my experience with other students at my school. Southern is now laying the groundwork for a local hackathon competition.