Wednesday, June 11, 2014

[621] Web giant Google taps MTSU computer science for new hires

MURFREESBORO — Nathan Reale and Matt Houglum are the latest alumni from MTSU and its computer science program to tap the career pipeline to Web service giant Google.

In April and May, respectively, the students-turned-alumni learned they had landed full-time positions with Google Inc., the American multinational corporation specializing in Internet-related services and products. They began their careers at Google locations in California and Washington state in June.

“It is very difficult to get hired at Google, and the fact that a major company like Google is hiring our students is indicative of the quality of the education being offered in the Department of Computer Science at MTSU,” said Chrisila Pettey, professor and department chair.

With 12 faculty members, 375 students and housed on the third floor of 113-year-old Kirksey Old Main, computer science flies under the radar compared to signature programs such as recording industry and aerospace, which is part of the College of Basic and Applied Sciences along with computer science.

Google hires register on everyone’s radar.

Reale, 24, of Franklin, Tennessee, and Houglum, 24, of Christiana, Tennessee, will be joining computer science alumni Collin Winter and Micah Chasteen as Google employees. Eldridge Alexander, a 2012 graduate from the College of Mass Communication, also works for Google in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Chasteen, who has worked for Google for two years, spoke to the computer science student organization in February.

“His topic was getting a job with IT companies, but mostly Google. I applied the next day,” said Reale, adding that “Google was my dream job from high school through college.”

Reale will work on Google projects at its Mountain View, California, headquarters outside San Francisco. He and Alexander also are former Buchanan Fellows and graduates of the University Honors College. He had a 4.0 GPA in grad school and 3.9 as an undergraduate, majoring in computer science and math.

Houglum will be an enterprise technical solutions engineer at Google’s Seattle operations, “solving technical problems people and companies have when they begin using Google products,” he said, admitting, too, it “has kind of been a dream job for me.”

At MTSU, Houglum participated on a student team that developed an Android mobile app for students to provide easy access to a wide variety of university information and, along with Reale, helped with student systems administration responsibilities as grad students.

Houglum said the MTSU student systems administration experience is what sold Google recruiters on him, and his advice to current students: Go to grad school.

Reale and Houglum earned their bachelor’s degrees at MTSU, too. Both participated in the MTSU ACM (Association for Computing Machinery) student chapter.

“They are all very talented computer scientists who are willing to spend the extra time it takes to stay ahead of the curve in a constantly changing field,” Pettey said. 

The Google hires and the hiring of current graduate student Alex Williams by an Oxford research team in England are propelling computer science to a loftier status.

For more information about MTSU’s computer science program, visit or call 615-898-2397.

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