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Alum Thomas Hakes smiling

Passion projects lead to profession

When Thomas Hakes began work as a consultant with Brightworks Computer Consulting it was like deja vu. A real life case of been there, done that.

“My classes with Professor [Matthew] Haas helped to prepare me for the real world in every way,” said Thomas. “He allowed me to find my footing and sweat it out until I found the right path, which I was able to do because of the foundation I’d received in his and other classes that I’d already had.”

College is typically a mix of mind-expanding theory and practical application. In Professor Haas’ classes, Thomas was encouraged to find his own path, documenting, assessing, and using the structure that Professor Haas outlined.

“As a consultant, no one is here to give me the answers,” said Thomas. “I have to know how to find them. Every circumstance is different. I am able to do that because Professor Haas presented us with open-ended challenges and allowed us to find the answers. He expected professionalism and taught us to be understanding of people’s individual needs. It’s striking how my work as a consultant mirrors my time as a student with Professor Haas.”

Thomas and his classmates developed their skills on “passion projects” in the classroom. For example, Thomas explained they programmed coffee pots to turn on when a remote signal is sent and coded computers internal PC speakers to play the Tetrus theme song in unison.

“All of the projects had merit,” Thomas said. “They prepared me to work on a single laptop or a large network. I could feel the energy of everyone moving forward and couldn’t help but follow suit.”

Thomas can still feel that energy and passion today. Although he enjoys hiking, biking, and spending time with his girlfriend, computers are one of his main interests, and he acknowledges that he works a lot.

“It’s not because it’s required,” he said. “It’s because it’s one of my loves.”