Golisano College student excels in dual role: journalist and engineer

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A. Sue Weisler | photographer

Jen Loomis, fourth-year software engineering student in the B. Thomas Golisano College of Computing and Information Sciences, is editor in chief of Reporter magazine.

RIT is a university of left-brain and right-brain thinkers. Left-brain people tend to excel in science, critical reasoning and mathematics, while artistic ability and imagination flourish in those of the right brain persuasion.

For people like Jen Loomis, it’s apparent both sides of the brain are firing. The fourth-year software engineering major is also an accomplished writer and editor, currently serving as the editor in chief of Reporter magazine. She attributes her dual thinking to her lineage.

“My dad’s an electrical engineer,” says Loomis. “My mom’s a writer. It comes together pretty well for me. The interesting part is my mom has her bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering, but she’s never worked in the field. She was the editor in chief of her school newspaper at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, and that’s what she really wanted to do. So it’s kind of neat because I get to follow in her footsteps, only I happen to like engineering too.”

The honors student has the chops for engineering, writing and music, playing trombone for several years in RIT’s Jazz Ensemble.

“I started playing in fifth grade. When I was in high school I had the solo in the trombone-baritone saxophonist piece Superbone Meets the Bad Man. What was cool is that I got to play with saxophonist Denis DiBlasio from Maynard Ferguson’s Big Band.”

Loomis has put music on hold for the moment as she balances a 40-hour workweek at Reporter and a full course load.

“I’m probably spending less time on my studies but working harder at it when I am. The biggest thing I’ve learned since taking over as editor in chief is that it’s much more efficient to do my homework in the library or in the labs.”

She spent her summer in the Laboratory for Environmental Computing and Decision Making in RIT’s Center for Advancing the Study of Cyberinfrastructure. She worked on the Materials Use: Science, Engineering and Society program, a five-year study funded by the National Science Foundation to build and link computer models to understand the consumer and industry response to policy decisions, and how the state of the market impacts the environment.

“I’m probably going to take some courses in environmental policy. I really love the work I’m doing on this project. It’s made me realize that with my software engineering degree, I can help the world in some way.”

Loomis isn’t sure what she wants to do following graduation, although joining the Peace Corps is an option she’s considering.

“I would love to go to into an undeveloped country and help work on its software infrastructure.”

Seeing the world isn’t something the Clifton Park, N.Y., native has had the time to do, but says the opportunities she’s been given at Reporter have been well worth it.

“My experience at Reporter has been amazing. If I had gone to a larger school, with tons of liberal arts majors I don’t think I would have gotten the opportunity to work in the capacity that I do at Reporter. I’m a software engineering student learning about art. That’s cool.”