Chris Finley didn’t know what he wanted from a college education, so he dropped out until he found his passion. Then he dropped in on UALR’s George W. Donaghey College of Engineering and Information Technology.
He graduated in 2007 with a degree in systems engineering, which led him to an internship at Windstream’s broadband systems, an internship that later landed him a permanent job. He was promoted again late last year.
“The systems engineering program that I went through was one of the first [systems] engineering undergraduate programs in the nation,” he said. “Most programs like mine are master’s level. It was a unique program for me.”
Finley said his systems engineering program offered him opportunities to learn about several different engineering disciplines at a high level from elite professors from top engineering schools including MIT, Cal Tech, and more. He said the instruction emphasized how complex systems interact and work together in an engineering and project-type environment – exactly what he works on in his job.
In between his systems engineering course work, Finley served in the student government, representing the Donaghey College.
“We were involved in the front end of UALR’s 10-year master plan,” he said. “That is so neat to see some of the things that we were involved in come to fruition years later. Being in student government really broadened my experience at UALR.”
What can he tell prospective students about UALR?
“It is a gem. I’ll talk to anyone who wants to listen about UALR. I think it is a great school.”
Q&A with Chris
What was your favorite class? I have two, and they were very different. Within my major, I really enjoyed Dynamic Systems Modeling. The class was full of interesting methods to model real world processes using physics and mathematics principles. It really tied those concepts together in interesting, real world examples. My other favorite class was Survey of American Music. The instructor had excellent examples of music from the colonial days to the modern era that we were able to analyze and more importantly enjoy listening to in a classroom setting. He made the class a lot of fun.
What is your favorite UALR memory? Some of my favorite memories are from the time that I spent working in the Math Lab. UALR has an open lab available to anyone needing assistance in their math courses. As a tutor there, it was very rewarding to work with students that reached out for help and to watch them develop and ultimately succeed in passing whatever level of math courses they needed to get through.
If you could spend one day anywhere in the world, where would it be? Why? Space Camp. I always wanted to go, but never got the chance. With three daughters under five years old, it is definitely on my bucket list to take them when they are old enough. I can’t think of a better place to inspire kids to be interested in technology and the sciences.
What one word would you use to describe yourself? Determined