Dorrene Brown is a problem solver. She wants to create things that make people’s lives easier and more convenient.
The fifth-year software engineering student from Rockledge, Pa., doesn’t lead an easy and carefree student lifestyle herself—in addition to her academics, she is president of both the Society of Software Engineers and RIT Fencing Club. And according to Brown, she has figured out that in order to create the best possible products, she needs to be a well-rounded person.
In high school, Brown earned the Congressional Award, which recognizes those who set and meet goals in voluntary public service, personal development, physical fitness and expedition/exploration.
“To fulfill the volunteer portion of the award, I started teaching simple computer classes at the library for the elderly,” Brown says. “Most of the time, it was silly bugs in the Internet browser or unclear directions in word processors that would trip people up.”
Brown didn’t want anyone to be intimidated by computers. She enrolled as a computer science, biology and English major at the University of Rochester, hoping to maintain a well-rounded outlook. But after one year, Brown realized that something was missing, and she transferred to RIT.
“I wanted more of the project management side of computing and the human interaction with customers,” Brown says. “I discovered the software engineering program at RIT and immediately loved how I could combine my writing, communication and computing skills to make exactly what a customer needs.”
Brown also has taken advantage of as many co-op opportunities as possible. She has identified and fixed bugs on satellite systems for Goodrich ISR Systems in Boston, radios for Harris Corp. in Rochester and for financial software company Intuit in Mountain View, Calif.
“All those co-ops were great, but nothing compared to actually managing and creating my own application for Office while on a co-op assignment with Microsoft,” Brown says. “In fact, I’ve already accepted an opportunity to work at Microsoft full-time after graduation.”
While at RIT, Brown continues to stay active with the things that keep her well rounded, like writing, reading, kayaking, building software projects and fencing. Although Brown made it to the Junior Olympics for sabre fencing in 2007, today she exclusively coaches and works as a safety officer for the club.
“Actually, my love for fencing also stems from the Congressional Award,” Brown says. “I had always liked the idea of fencing, but I only started competing to fulfill the physical requirement of the award.”
With the Society of Software Engineers, Brown works to host the Voices in Software Engineering speaker series and the SSE Winter Ball, among other things. The society also has a new projects committee that will build anything from a mechanical archery ballista to a large-scale events management application.
“In my free time I’m continuing to learn how to cook meals,” Brown jokes. “It’s probably the only thing not on a computer that I can create.”