Where are you from?
I spent most of my childhood in Pennsylvania and moved to the Philippines during my high school years. After high school, my family and I moved to Buffalo, and currently reside here.
Why did you choose UB?
My father heard about UB, and we were impressed by the research opportunities, engineering programs, and affordable tuition offered at the university. After studying here for three years, I can definitely say that UB lives up to its expectations!
What do you like most about engineering at UB?
The vast opportunities UB presents to its students. With our top-notch faculty, I’ve gotten undergraduate experience doing research as well as being a teaching assistant. The School of Engineering and Applied Sciences provides its students with many hands-on resources, such as the Reverse Engineering Lab, where I was able to collaborate with my colleagues to create an innovative computer laptop.
Through UB’s STEM Up Career Fair last spring, I was also able to get an internship at a local start-up in Buffalo, which was a great experience! All these opportunities would not be possible without the connections and support at UB.
Why did you choose to go into engineering?
After growing up in Pennsylvania, I had the opportunity to study at an all-girls high school in the Philippines. Being immersed in a developing country where resources are limited and being part of an all-girls population were two unique environments that affected my decision to go into a STEM field. When I thought about issues the Philippines faced, technology instantly came to mind as a universal step towards improvement. I also noticed the potential in the thriving industry, as well as the lack of women in the field. Due to this, I decided that a degree in computing was the best way I could contribute to society given my skill set and aspirations for a better world.
What is your favorite place on campus?
Davis Hall is like a second home to me. I can always see familiar faces in Davis, and have a brief conversation with a colleague or professor that boosts my spirits.
What are you working on now?
I am excited to be working on a smartphone application for the linguistics department alongside a team of talented individuals. We are developing a tool that will be used to collect data for a research study that documents the languages in the Lower Fungom region of Cameroon. I am also studying and researching hardware and central processing unit (CPU) architecture, as I plan to develop and design my own CPU as part of an independent study.
What else do you do on campus?
I am highly involved in my department as the Vice Chair of the Undergraduate Student Advisory Board. Our organization serves as a bridge between faculty and students. We also help the department by organizing volunteer and outreach activities and events within the local community. We recently hosted CS Ed Week Kid’s Day in December, where we had more than 100 participants. K-12 students and their parents visited UB and got to take part in various hands-on activities and demos created by current students. It really warms my heart to see the community working together to inspire the leaders of tomorrow by encouraging them through their own projects and accomplishments.
What have you done that you are most proud of?
Last summer, I had the opportunity to partake in a research program at Indiana University that focused on security and privacy in smart home, or IoT, devices. The research group also awarded me an NSF grant to attend the Fourteenth Symposium on Usable Privacy and Security in Baltimore, M.D. Networking with established individuals and engaging in workshops inspired me to continue to learn more about this specialized and crucial field. I am still motivated by this experience and even took a cybersecurity class this semester called “UBNetDef,” a unique student-run class wherein students learn cybersecurity in a hands-on environment. I have learned many new technical concepts and have had the opportunity to participate in multiple cybersecurity competitions. I am proud of these accomplishments because they enabled me to learn about a field I was very interested in, as well as involve myself in a new and welcoming community.
What are you passionate about?
I’m really passionate about increasing diversity in STEM by helping minority groups to pursue degrees. As a woman in computing, I was highly intimidated by the gender gap in my classes during my freshman year. I try my best to foster a diverse and welcoming environment within CSE culture by being involved in organizations. During my sophomore year, I aided the CSE department in developing a summer camp targeted towards female high schoolers interested in computer science and engineering.In 2017, I was able to attend the Grace Hopper Conference in Orlando, Fla. with a Google Grant. There, I had the opportunity to network with many other talented women from diverse backgrounds.
Experiences such as these have allowed me to spread diversity within the community. I strongly believe that in order to recruit exceptional and intellectual individuals to the field, we must work to promote the inclusion and welcomeness of CSE to everyone.
What are your future plans?
I would like to pursue a career in cybersecurity or hardware design. I am also very open to other possibilities as well!
What is your advice to prospective engineering students?
Engineering is without a doubt difficult, and sometimes stress will get the better of you. However, I always try to remind myself to take a break from all the work once in a while and set aside time to spend with friends and family. After a long week, I particularly love to spend time with my parents and little sister, as it motivates me and refreshes me for the next week to come!
Shanelle Ileto received a 2018 Leaders in Excellence Scholarship from the UB Engineering and Applied Science Alumni Association (UBEAA).