Michael Mekonnen

Hometown: Silver Spring, MD

high school: Paint Branch HS

college: MIT

MAJOR: Electrical Engineering and Computer Science

GRAD. PROGRAM: MIT (MS, 2013)

Michael was born and raised in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. He received his early education from New Era School, and later from Lideta Catholic Cathedral School (LCCS). In early 2006, soon after beginning the 9th grade at LCCS, Michael, his parents, and one of his sisters found an opportunity to emigrate to the United States. The family decided to go through with the move to afford the two children a chance at a much better education, particularly for Michael as he had just entered high school. They settled in Silver Spring, Maryland, where some relatives already resided.

Shortly after, Michael entered Paint Branch High School. Using his family’s struggles to assimilate as his primary motivation, Michael excelled in his studies, and went on to graduate in 2009 with a 4.7 weighted GPA. Throughout high school, Michael invested significant time in extracurricular activities, particularly the school’s Academic, Mathletes, and Varsity Tennis teams. In addition, Michael participated in contests such as the NAACP ACT-SO, in which he won the national Gold Medal in Computer Science. With the generous assistance of programs like the Ron Brown program and Collegiate Directions Inc. through the college application process, Michael earned acceptance to several acclaimed colleges, and finally decided to study at MIT to pursue his passion for science and technology.

Having deep interest in various fields, Michael had a difficult time choosing a major at MIT. He ultimately chose to pursue a double major in Computer Science and Mathematics, believing that these fields have applications in a wide array of professions. Michael completed the undergraduate program in Spring, 2013 with a 5.0/5.0 GPA and completed his Masters of Engineering in Computer Science the following semester. For his Masters Thesis, he worked on an educational tool for the Introduction to Electrical Engineering and Computer Science course at MIT.

While at MIT, Michael worked on various research and internship projects. During the summer of his freshman year, he worked at the Lab of Biological Modelling at NIH. During the summers of his sophomore and junior years, he interned at Google as a Software Engineer, first on the Chromium OS project and later on the Android YouTube App. During his last three years as an undergraduate, he worked on research projects in the City Form Lab under the Urban Studies and Planning department. For several semesters during his years at MIT, Michael served as a Teaching Assistant in various courses. Through these courses, he discovered his passion for teaching, and plans to pursue this passion later in his career.

Michael is currently a Senior Software Engineer at Google NYC. During his first two years, Michael worked on the contact center solution for the company. He then switched to the Search team where he worked on the Sports feature on the Google Search App on iOS. Currently, he works on an infrastructure project that enables rapid development in Search.

Michael continues to frequently visit his home country, Ethiopia. Most recently, he spent 3 weeks in the summer of 2018 serving as an instructor and Teaching Assistant for the AddisCoder program, a program that aims to teach top high school students in the country the basics of computer science and algorithms, in addition to introducing them to the international student college application process.

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