Ahmar Gordon ’16 majored in computer science and was a part of the Appalachian High Achievers in STEM program (S-STEM) program while at Appalachian State University. Now he works as a DevOps architect, leading design and implementation of high-quality technical solutions and modern digital products, which drives impactful online experiences for consumers and colleagues.
Gordon grew up in Charlotte and currently works at Slalom Build, a global consulting firm that focuses on providing businesses with expert technology consulting services by assisting clients to make advancements in digital modernization, cloud transformation and organizational enhancement. His work revolves around being a team leader and providing guidance for software engineers and analysts to ensure that businesses can have frequent, measurable success.
“Thinking about the computers that software developers use daily - I help get the code they write from their machines all the way to a potential customer's face where it can show up on a screen and provide value for a business. I oversee pretty much everything that happens between the two points, and create the pipelines to facilitate the flow," said Gordon.
Experience as Education
Through the S-STEM program, Gordon learned many valuable skills through the activities offered. These activities included collaborating on research teams, building impactful software projects, and presenting at research conferences around the state. These experiences provided Gordon with real-world experience in the computer science field.
"You have to learn how to meet people where they are and get on the same page as them - empathize and work through real-world problems,” Gordon said. “Peer mentorship is about being able to give advice without coming off as condescending, or being able to ask for help without sounding helpless."
Being a part of the S-STEM program gave Gordon a feeling of comfort within his field. He felt like living with people going through the same problems made a difference within his support system.
“If I can live with some of my best friends who can also help me overcome some of the toughest obstacles that I've ever had to face in my life, I'm way better off than if I had just been dropped off in the deep end, and left to swim on my own," said Gordon.
Gordon worked closely with Dr. Rahman Tashakkori, chairperson and professor within the Department of Computer Science and director of the S-STEM program. Gordon assisted Tashakkori with his honey bee monitoring systems and with the Research Experience for Teachers Program, a program that assists high school teachers and community college faculty with computer science-related research.
“Ahmar Gordon was a great role model both in our S-STEM program and research lab,” Tashakkori said, “He was willing to take on different problems, and efficently develop solutions for them.”
Inclusivity and representation are something that Gordon hopes to see growth within the computer science field, noting that people are often discouraged from entering a field due to a lack of diverse representation or outward support.
“I would like to see demographics of companies across the country mirror the demographics of the cities they are based in. I'd like to see things like pay inequality and cultural division cease to exist so we can focus on the things that really matter. I'd like to see a change–more mentors for the next generation of young people who come into the field,” Gordon said.
Gordon wants people to see that the same enjoyment from using technology in their day-to-day lives can also be had while creating it.
"Technology is so ingrained in all of our lives. I wish I could show everyone that the same excitement they have for investing in crypto, squading up on video games or getting that perfect Instagram filter - that same excitement can be had in the job where you solve the problems that it takes to bring those experiences to life."
About the Department of Computer Science
Appalachian’s Department of Computer Science provides a rigorous, high-quality education that prepares students for the computing industry or graduate education. It offers a Bachelor of Science degree in computer science, which is accredited by the Computing Accreditation Commission of ABET, and a Master of Science degree in computer science. Learn more at https://compsci.appstate.edu.
By James Johnson
Oct. 22, 2021