Spotlight – Mike Coughlin
Mike Coughlin is a Pawtucket native graduating this May with a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science with a minor in Digital Forensics. Leaning towards a career in law enforcement, he has worked with the RI State Police and plans on pursuing a career with the FBI after working in the military.
During his years studying in the URI CS Department, Mike found he enjoyed the more challenging courses like CSC 340, Mathematical Foundations of Computer Science and CSC 440, Algorithms and Data Structures. Most students dread the idea of taking these classes due to the theoretical nature of the work but Mike enjoyed them. “I loved these classes. The professor was really good and I like the theory side and learning about algorithms.” The same can be said of another class he took, CSC 445, Models of Computation. “It’s a great learning experience and I like the challenge of these courses.”
His interest in the field started early on. Programming in MATLAB, he found that he enjoyed the syntax work when programming and liked the problem solving aspects of software design. He found his niche combining this interest with the forensic work involving investigations and digging for evidence.
On top of his academic classes, Mike also worked with the Digital Forensics Center housed within Tyler building, applying the knowledge he has learned so far. On an internship with the DFC, he set up machines for agencies to train on and worked on cases looking for evidence inside computer brought into the lab. “The most important thing about working in such a setting is being able to apply what I know and see that what I do learn does matter in the real world.” He enjoys the hands-on work that the Digital Forensics minor has given him the opportunity to do. “It’s made it easier to switch from class to work and it has made my undergrad experience so much better.”
Another internship he’s held is working with the Rhode Island State Police within the RISP Intelligence Unit.
Seeing himself in a more investigative career, Mike is looking for ways to use the computer skills he has in conjunction with another field. “I want to join the service and then start a career with the FBI.”
Mike keeps himself well-rounded by being active in other areas. He wrestled for 3 years and work 20 hours on top of his studies and internships. “It keeps me busy but it’s worth it. It’s very rewarding to see your hard work pay off.”
When asked about what he thinks of the CS department, he replies, “It’s a great department. The faculty members are amazing and they teach what they know really well. Especially in the upper-level courses, you get to learn about their research, about things they’ve spent their careers working on. And they care about the students and making sure you learn as much as you can and are exposed to as many opportunities possible.”