CompE undergraduate talks about smarter software development with the News-Gazette

ECE News

Julia Sullivan, ECE ILLINOIS
3/20/2017 3:06:16 PM

Story Highlights

"We build our self and credibility," CompE senior Saksham Saini told the News-Gazette. The soon-to-be graduate was recently profiled in Wired In, a weekly feature spotlighting a "high-tech difference-maker."

Still image captured from video by  videographer/Producer: Robin Scholz, The News-Gazette
Still image captured from video by videographer/Producer: Robin Scholz, The News-Gazette
Saini co-founded the Cornfield Coders Group (CCG) along with fellow ECE ILLINOIS student Dhruv Diddi. The Registered Student Organization (RSO) grew out of their frustration when they were unable to land jobs out of high school without any experience. "We realized that getting the first experience opens so many doors for you. Once we got our internships last summer, we thought, how about we start a company that basically hires these students and gives them the opportunity to work on these real-world projects to create opportunities for them," Saini said.

CCG not only gives real-world software development experience to Illinois freshmen and sophomores, but it also helps the University minimize costs without sacrificing quality. "We were looking for projects and we realized there are a bunch of things within the university that need to be worked on," Saini said. "Right now they often hire third-party contractors and pay them top dollar. We're one of the top engineering schools, so why don't engineering students do some of this in-house?"

But the University of Illinois isn't their only client. The Illinois State Geological Survey has engaged them to create a professional version of prototypical software that uses geological data from the past fifty years.

The RSO model is ideal for this group instead of a traditional private start-up for a few reasons. First, it's easier to pass leadership to incoming students, so the business to carry on without the original founders. Also, it allows CCG to focus on gaining experience for their members instead of RFPs and negotiating budgets. The group doesn't charge a fee for their services. Saini said, "a major reason we got these projects was that we were ready to work for free. All we wanted was to get these kids experience."

You can hear more about CCG directly from Saini in this video by the News-Gazette and read the full article online.

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