Sebastian graduated from the University of Idaho in 1997 with a MS degree in Computer Science and again in 1999 receiving a PhD in Computer Science.
Sebastian was born in Cordoba, Argentina which is the second largest city in Argentina. It is located in the center of the country, about half way between the ocean and the Andes, at the west end of the Pampas. Sebastian was introduced to computers at an early age. As he describes it, "When I was about 10, an aunt bought me a “ZX-Spectrum” home computer. I couldn’t do much with it because it didn't even have a hard drive, but it was enough to get me started with basic programming and helped me discover my passion for software development." Computers were not available in Argentina’s high schools in the 1980’s, but Sebastian had a chance to take some extracurricular classes on computer programming that further developed his interests. Then as a senior he was able to spend part of the year at Whitefish Bay High School in Milwaukee, WI where he took programming classes. As he describes it "[they] were very exciting."
"The University of Idaho offered us plenty of learning opportunities through classes and labs, lots of one-on-one time with faculty members, and support to develop as graduate students."
After high school Sebastian attended Universidad Catolica de Cordoba (UCC), studying Systems Engineering. "When my girlfriend (now my wife) and I finished our undergraduate studies at UCC, we started to search for schools abroad to get an international experience in our field. The University of Idaho had an exchange program with UCC that facilitated the process. Our intention was to come to the University of Idaho for 6 months, but the experience was so positive that we returned for another 3 years to complete our graduate studies. The University of Idaho offered us plenty of learning opportunities through classes and labs, lots of one-on-one time with faculty members, and support to develop as graduate students."
While at the University of Idaho Sebastian explored several Computer Science areas ranging from parallel programming to software security, and complemented his study plan with courses in business and statistics. But the emphasis area of his graduate studies was software engineering, with a focus on software measurement and reliability under the guidance of Dr. John Munson. "One of the most exciting things about our projects was that we were able to work closely with partners such as NASA and StorageTek which let us appreciate the impact of the leading edge research we were conducting." His interest in an academic career developed slowly. "At some point during those projects I started to realize the potential of a career path in academia. There was not a defining moment when I said 'this is what I always wanted to do,' but rather an increasing sense through my PhD studies that this was a career path with lots of intellectual freedom and constant and tangible impact."
"One of the most exciting things about our projects was that we were able to work closely with partners such as NASA and StorageTek which let us appreciate the impact of the leading edge research we were conducting."
After graduating from the University of Idaho Sebastian joined the Computer Science and Engineering Department at the University of Nebraska — Lincoln (UNL). He is an Associate Professor working in the areas of program testing and analysis, designing techniques and implementing tools to make software more dependable. He takes pride in being a member of one of the strongest software engineering research groups in the US (http://esquared.unl.edu/). Sebastian's noteworthy accomplishments at UNL have been many, including designation as a J. D. Edwards Honors Program Professor (1999-2006), recipient of the Harold and Esther Edgerton Research and Teaching Award for Junior Faculty (2002), a National Science Foundation Career Award (2004), a founding member of End Users Shaping Effective Software (EUSES), serving as Program Chair of the International Symposium of Software Testing and Analysis (ISSTA 2007), receiving distinguished paper awards at the FSE 2006 and ICSE 2008 conferences, and he has mentored over fifteen graduate students that are now leading quality assurance activities in many top companies and labs. In the June 2007 issue of the Communications of the ACM, Sebastian was recognized as one of the top 50 software engineering scholars in the world.
The intellectual freedom that Sebastian found attractive about an academic career also means that each day presents new challenges. Here's how he describes a representative day. "It includes a good dosage of meeting and brainstorming with students and peers working in joint research projects or classes, which is what I enjoy the most. I also spend considerable time writing papers to disseminate our work and to attract more funding to support new research endeavors. And of course I teach at least one class a semester, usually associated with software engineering."
"One of the neatest things about my profession is the chance to meet very bright minds from all over the world, which helps me keep a broader view of what is happening."
As Sebastian has discovered, there are some intangible benefits to the academic career. "One of the neatest things about my profession is the chance to meet very bright minds from all over the world, which helps me keep a broader view of what is happening. Another immense source of satisfaction is the chance to mentor people that have great potential to impact the world." There are also some key strengths that have been significant in his success. "At a technical level, knowing the software engineering fundamentals, the capacity of abstraction, programming languages principles, and the ability to perform various statistical analysis have been very important in my research career. However, communication skills are also crucial in exchanging ideas and knowledge with peers and students."
"Another immense source of satisfaction is the chance to mentor people that have great potential to impact the world."
Although Sebastian has already accomplished a lot in his career and his faculty position could demand every waking moment, he manages to keep everything in perspective. "I have two lovely kids, and spending time with them and my wife helps me strike a healthy balance in my life."
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