Regi is a 1996 graduate of the University of Idaho receiving a MS degree in Computer Science. Regi’s hometown is Trivandrum, the capital of Kerala, India. Trivandrum is a city built on hills, located on the southwest tip of India and close to the seashore.
Here's the way Regi described how he decided to study Computer Science. "I’d been pretty good in math and science during my early school years. Towards the end of high school, I knew I wanted to pursue my education in engineering. This was in the early 80’s when PCs were just catching on. I found these machines to be extremely fascinating and as a result decided to join the BS in Computer Science and Engineering program at Bangalore University, India. During my third year in the BS program, it struck me that ensuring the quality of software was going to be a challenge, and that it was the area I wanted learn more about."
Kerala, India is a long way from Moscow, ID, but Regi was unexpectedly drawn here by something that resonated with his interest in software quality. "My aim for an MS degree in Computer Science was to specialize in software engineering, especially in the area of software quality. I wanted to do my degree in the United States, as the US, at that time, was the leader in computer technology. To my chagrin I found that there weren’t many schools that had specialized courses for, or even an emphasis on, software engineering. The University of Idaho was one of the few schools that did. When I found out about the Computer Science Department's Software Engineering Test Lab (SETL), I knew this was the school for me."
Because of the research work that Dr. Paul Oman was doing for Hewlett Packard and other companies, and also the work that Prof. William Junk and other faculty members were doing, there was ample opportunity to work in, and learn about, software engineering and software quality. Regi's thesis work, conducted under Dr. Oman supervision, focused on the use of software metrics to predict the reusability of software components. "The Research Assistantship I was granted not only helped pay for my education, but it also allowed me to do research work on real-world related projects."
"I found the faculty to be very, very good in their areas of expertise, and also very approachable, so I didn’t feel intimidated to engage with them."
There were several intangibles that Regi found enhanced his educational experience. "The class sizes were small which allowed almost a one-on-one interaction with the professors. Their open door policy meant that I could walk into their offices pretty much any time to discuss something. I found the faculty to be very, very good in their areas of expertise, and also very approachable, so I didn’t feel intimidated to engage with them."
In addition to his thoughts about the academic program, Regi has fond memories of local area. "I will never forget the many wonderful hiking and fishing trips I took during my time in Moscow. Or the beautiful rolling hills of the Palouse. In other words, the University of Idaho was not only a great school from an academic perspective, but also located in a place that allowed for terrific opportunities to enjoy the great outdoors."
From his experience in the Computer Science graduate program, Regi offers a few recommendations to future graduate students. "I’d encourage every MS student to take the thesis option if possible. The experience that you'll get from doing a thesis is invaluable and you'll be able to take the skills with you to the workplace. Those skills will continue to serve you throughout your career. I’d also encourage a good balance between theoretical Computer Science and courses that teach practical concepts."
"My experiences at the University of Idaho provided a practical grounding that served me very well once I joined Microsoft."
After graduating, Regi was intent on working in the software quality area. "I applied for testing jobs with various companies and finally decided to accept Microsoft’s offer for a job as a Software Design Engineer in Test (SDET) for the SQL Server Group. My experiences at the University of Idaho provided a practical grounding that served me very well once I joined Microsoft." Regi has been with Microsoft ever since. He spent five years in the SQL Server Group, then moved to the Windows Communication Foundation (WCF) team where he spent another five years. Over time he has moved from the role of an individual contributor to that of a manager.
With his preparation Regi found the transition from academia to Microsoft to be easy. "At Microsoft I was applying many of the things that I’d learned in classes, as well as from my research. In fact, one of the first projects that my manager put me on was to figure out the appropriate metrics to use to evaluate the effectiveness of our test strategy."
"My exposure to academic papers and publications has helped me immensely in learning about, and keeping updated on the state-of-the-art."
"One of the most important lessons I learned in graduate school, that continue to serve me today, was an unexpected outcome of my thesis research. I started with a vague notion of the area I was going to investigate. I found a few papers in the general area of what I wanted to do and then started expanding my search. This skill is something I’ve found myself using over and over again in my professional work. In software testing we’re typically given a new product feature or area to test. We have to educate ourselves about the area, and most times the information is not easily available. I found myself using many of the same techniques, in gleaning the necessary information, that I’d used during my thesis work. Also, my exposure to academic papers and publications has helped me immensely in learning about, and keeping updated on, the state-of-the-art in software engineering and software testing.
"It’s my responsibility to make sure that we’re doing the right set of things to ensure that we can ship a high quality product within our planned schedule."
Regi has been in his current position with Microsoft Research for about two years where he's the Test Manager of the Communications Incubation Center (CIC) group. CIC is a group in Microsoft Research that is responsible for incubating and bring to market technologies in the communications area. "Our first product is called Response Point. It was developed in the relatively short time of two years with a small team of engineers. I run a team of nine Software Design Engineer in Test (SDET) responsible for ensuring that the product we’re working on ships with high quality and with minimal bugs. We test the software using many techniques. We also write a lot of code. Most times we write more code than the developers. I split my time between project management, people management, and technical activities. It's my responsibility to make sure that we’re doing the right set of things to ensure that we can ship a high quality product within our planned schedule. I represent the test team at various managerial and executive level meetings. In December 2006 I was part of the team that presented our product, and the work we were doing, to Bill Gates during the yearly review he does with the different teams in Microsoft."
Regi describes his typical day in the following way, "The first thing I do every day is to fire up our bug tracking system to see what was reported the previous day. I go through each report to get a better understanding of the problem, whether or not it was caught as a result of testing, and if not, why not. I try to discern whether there’s a pattern to the problems being reported, whether we have the right tests and testing strategy in place, and I also look at trends such as how many bugs are being opened per day. I attend a number of meetings during the day. I meet with my peers in the Development and Program Management teams where we discuss the status of the project. I also meet with members of my team to go over the various testing activities we're doing."
Helping create a customer-centered focus is another facet of his work that Regi enjoys. "One of the cool things about the team I’m currently in is that we get to wear multiple hats. We have a few companies around Seattle and in other parts of the country who are our Beta customers. They run pre-release versions of our product in a real-world environment. I'm the support person for one of these customers. So if they come across any problems while using our product, I help them figure out what’s going on. If it requires a fix to our product, then I’ll help deploy a newer version to their site. This experience gives me a much better understanding of how our product is used by real customers in a live setting. The things I learn are very useful in both the design of future versions of our product, as well as ensuring that we’re testing the right set of scenarios in our test lab."
The views expressed on this page are those of the individual being profiled and do not necessarily represent the views or opinions of the University of Idaho or the employer. References to specific organizations and companies does not constitute endorsement of their products or services by the University of Idaho.
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