Stories from Fall 2019 #UTDgrad Week


Rahul Raj and Lal Payyappilly Paul pose for photos at the Spirit Rocks after earning master’s in computer science degrees. Now that they have graduated, both plan to work as software developers for Amazon.
Now that Trusit Shah has earned a PhD in computer science, he’s heading to Seattle to work for one of his field’s most sought-after employers: Amazon.
Shah moved to the United States from Gujarat, India, to study computer science at the UT Dallas Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science and to become a software engineer.
“There are a lot of great professors here doing research on IoT [internet of things],” Shah said.
Shah will join a steady stream of computer science students and alumni who have landed jobs at the company, which recruits on campus. At least 33 spring graduates were hired full-time, and 45 students participated in summer internships at the company, according to the Department of Computer Science.
Friends Rahul Raj and Lal Payyappilly Paul, both originally from Kerala, India, have been hired as software developers at Amazon. Both celebrated earning their master’s degrees in computer science on Wednesday.
Likewise, Pacham Mamania came from Mumbai, India, to UT Dallas to study data science and machine learning. Mamania moved to Seattle in September to work for Amazon after earning his master’s degree in computer science. He said he is using the skills he learned at UT Dallas to help the company manage fraud.
“My classes, and all my activities, have been very helpful to me in my job,” Mamania said.


Charlie Salazar knew he wanted to up his game at the Dallas Fire-Rescue Department. He had recently been appointed Deputy Assistant Chief of Special Operations and recognized that executive-level work required new skills.
So Salazar enrolled in the Master of Public Affairs (MPA) program through the School of Economics, Policy and Political Sciences.
Even as he continued his job at the fire department, Salazar took a large load of classes each semester and earned his MPA in two years.
After walking the stage during commencement ceremony on Monday — he is pictured above shaking the hand of UT Dallas President Richard C. Benson — Salazar celebrated with family and with colleagues from the fire department. He said the public affairs program was very practical.
“A lot of the information I learned in classes will translate well to what I am doing now,” Salazar said.


Kanak Kanti Roy, Shruti Pandit and Dhairya Pawar (pictured from left) proudly show off the 50th emblem on their graduation stoles, in honor of UT Dallas’ 50th anniversary.
Pandit and Pawar have been dating 11 years and met their friend Roy in class in the fall of 2018.
Following graduation, Roy, who earned a master’s degree in business analytics, will work as a data science engineer at Apple.
Pawar will soon begin his job as a business intelligence engineer at Copart, while fellow MS in Information Technology and Management grad Pandit continues her search for a business analyst position.


Pedro Jose González Corona celebrated completing a PhD in humanities this semester.
Corona is a visiting associate professor in the Ackerman Center for Holocaust Studies, in which he teaches courses on the Holocaust and human rights.
He is pictured at Monday’s doctoral hooding ceremony being hooded by Dr. Monica Rankin, associate professor of arts and humanities, and Dr. Juan Gonzalez, dean of graduate education.


Lendon Burnett (center in the above picture), who served in the U.S. Army, was guest student speaker during the veteran cord ceremony the week before graduation.
Burnett earned his bachelor’s degree in finance.
Pictured from left are Burnett’s cousin, Kacie Carroll; his mother, Teri Burnett; his wife, Jennifer; and his aunt, Toni Heinze.
Burnett’s wife is expecting their first child, who is due in April.