Bringing global experiences to the classroom

Nauman Chaudhry’s family. Though they would have liked him to become a physician like his two older siblings, Chaudhry chose to earn a degree in electrical engineering from University of Engineering and Technology, Lahore.

That was just the beginning of Chaudhry’s varied experiences, both in his work and the many places his career took him.

After graduating, Chaudhry moved to the United States to study electrical engineering at University of Michigan, where he also minored in computer science. After the second semester of his studies, Chaudhry discovered that he enjoyed computer science more than electrical engineering, so he switched majors and went on to earn master’s and doctoral degrees in computer science, specializing in database systems.

Once he graduated, Chaudhry took his expertise to Oracle, where he built tools for the company’s database systems for five years, first in New England and then in the Bay Area.

While he enjoyed working in industry, Chaudhry really wanted to teach. He made the leap to become an assistant professor of computer science at the University of New Orleans where he not only taught, but conducted research as well.

“One of the reasons I didn’t immediately go from graduate school into academia was that I wanted to see how things actually get done in industry,” he said. “It adds a really good perspective.”

After five years, the craving to work in industry called again, and Chaudhry moved to Austin, Texas to work as a software developer, first at ADP and then at a spinoff company.

Over the next few years, life circumstances led him to move across the globe to back to Pakistan, then back to the U.S., and then to Birmingham, England. As a single parent, Chaudhry wanted to work remotely while having the flexibility to take care of his family.

In 2019, he became an instructor in Oregon State’s growing online postbaccalaureate program in computer science, where he brings his vast experiences into the classroom.

“When I’m developing a course, I think of how the material is going to fit in when a student goes to industry and what are the type of things they should retain to be successful in their careers,” he said.

Because technology changes so quickly, Chaudhry is thoughtful about the information that is likely to continue to be a fundamental part of their knowledge base down the road in a student’s career.

“Over the years, I have seen a huge evolution in many areas that I have worked on in industry and taught in academia, such as data management, web development, and distributed applications. Technology changes rapidly, but in my area of expertise there are underlying principles that are still at the core of the new shiny things,” he explained.

“I believe that an education that combines teaching fundamental concepts with hands-on experience in actual systems will benefit a student both when they are starting work in the software industry, as well as helping them adapt later in their career when the new shiny thing of today gets replaced by a newer, shinier thing.”

Chaudhry recently moved back to Austin, where he enjoys the sunshine and city life while continuing to teach Oregon State classes remotely. He’s also able to indulge in his pastime of watching movies hosted by the Austin Film Society.

“Austin has a great film culture. There are series themes that may include geographic regions, historic periods, or specific directors.” Chaudhry said. “But I would say in the past few years, as the father of a young child, I’ve watched a lot more Disney and animated movies than movies at the Austin Film Society,” he said.

By Gale Sumida
April 12, 2022