Ohio native Max Cowan ’19 came to Florida Poly ready to tackle new challenges and expand his critical thinking. As he pursued a computer science degree with a concentration in cybersecurity, Max discovered new interests in building autonomous systems and machine learning. He interned as a cybersecurity analyst at Phacil, Inc. in Cocoa Beach, Florida, and later fulfilled another internship at Amazon Web Services in Seattle, Washington. After graduating summa cum laude, Max will take the exciting opportunity of rejoining his Amazon team as a full-time software development engineer.
What leader do you admire the most in the high-tech world and why?
Elon Musk. He is a serial risk-taker who will stop at nothing to make his futuristic visions a reality. Elon altruistically creates and invests in emerging, disruptive technologies that promise a more exciting and prosperous future for the human race. He exemplifies the rare responsible billionaire.
What was your favorite class at Florida Poly?
Autonomous Robotic Systems. I had the opportunity to enroll in the first iteration of this course during my sophomore year. I learned a massive amount of new information through building the car, developing control algorithms from scratch, and brainstorming with my peers in an interdisciplinary setting. Over the duration of this course (which puts a large emphasis on self-study), I discovered new areas of computer science (computer vision and machine learning) that have since molded my interests outside of class.
What advice would you give to a freshman?
Make things! Whether you’re an engineering student or a computer science student, there are plenty of resources and clubs at the school to help you get involved in ongoing projects or start your own. Attend a hack-a-thon (there are a handful across Florida during the school year) or even brew something up in your dorm room! The more you explore, the faster you may find your passion within your domain of study.
Where is your favorite spot on campus and why?
The steps near the flagpoles. It is a tranquil spot by the water with sweeping views of our whole campus. Ideal for relaxation and reflection.
If you could eat lunch with one famous person, who would it be?
Easily Guy Fieri. That guy knows how to do lunch.
Editor’s Note: This story is one of a series of Q&As with some of Florida Poly’s class of 2019 graduates.
Assistant Director of Communications