Fourth-year spotlight: Adam Campbell


Fourth-year Engineering student Adam Campbell transferred into the Engineering School after his second year in an effort to better pursue his interests in computer science. After two summers interning with Microsoft, Campbell decided to pursue a graduate degree and ultimately hopes to go into teaching.
Marshall Bronfin | The Cavalier Daily

After spending two years in the College studying religious studies and classics, fourth-year Engineering student Adam Campbell decided to move in a new direction — computer programming. Though transferring between University schools can often be a challenge, Campbell quickly excelled and was chosen as a Rodman Scholar, an honor awarded to students who have been in the top five percent of each class they have taken in the Engineering School.

The change was a big one, but not altogether surprising. For the past few years, Campbell has worked at the Virginia Image and Video Analysis Lab, where he worked on a project using data from a program similar to Google Maps to locate sinkholes in roads.

“Sinkholes are a hugely costly thing for the Department of Transportation,” Campbell said. “So, if people identify them ahead of time to be able to prevent from actually destroying a road, it’s a big deal.”

In the imaging analysis lab, Campbell had the opportunity to work closely with both professors and graduate students.

“The professor I work with is one of my favorite professors,” Campbell said. “You basically do research on pictures, and it doesn’t get much better than that.”

Campbell’s experience in the industry extends beyond Charlottesville. For the past two summers, Campbell worked as an intern with Microsoft in Seattle.

“I was taking my first computer science class and I saw that Microsoft was coming to recruit, so I jokingly gave them my résumé,” Campbell said. “The next thing I knew I was flying out to Seattle.”

Taking his experience at Microsoft with him, Campbell will be working with the computer science company Palantir this summer in New York — a few blocks from Broadway, a big plus for Campbell, who enjoys musical theater.

Campbell will then travel upstate to Ithaca in the fall and begin work on receiving his doctorate from Cornell’s computer-engineering program.

“Generally, the program lasts for however long it takes you — so somewhere in the range of four years to five years to six years to whatever it takes,” Campbell said. “I’m going to be doing more school forever and ever.”

Though currently undecided as to his specific area of focus within the computer-engineering program, Campbell said he is interested in pursuing cryptography.

“I really like algorithms and I really like computer science theory stuff, so anything in those areas I’ll be exploring,” Campbell said.

Campbell said once he is finally ready to leave the classroom as a student, he hopes to return as a teacher.

“I’ve been a T.A. for a lot of different classes and its one of my favorite things to do,” he said. “I want to be a teacher someday, so it’s a lot of fun.”

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