Darren Stahl is a problem solver. By the time he was in Grade 5, he was working on robotics programming, and during his university studies at Carleton University, he created a robotics testing suite using vision tracking.
Now, with a Bachelor of Engineering degree in Computer Systems Engineering, the 22-year-old has landed a highly competitive job at Microsoft’s headquarters in Seattle.
Exposed to technology from a young age – his mother is a programmer and his father works in the mining technology field – Stahl always wanted to work in tech. He knew he would work with computers but wasn’t sure whether to go the software or the hardware route. Carleton’s Computer Systems Engineering program in the Faculty of Engineering and Design covered both.
“I’ve always loved solving problems,” says Stahl. “Programming is just solving problems and translating it into a programming language. So computer systems engineer was a perfect fit for me.”
His interest in Microsoft was piqued after his first year when a friend returned from an internship there. When Microsoft representatives attended a career fair in October 2012, Stahl handed out his resume and was invited to a first interview on campus and then to Microsoft’s headquarters.
“I flew to Seattle and had four interviews in a row, after which I was offered a summer internship position working on Windows. I was chosen to work on Hyper-V, which is Microsoft’s virtualization software. The internship was amazing.”
Stahl believes he was chosen because of his quick problem solving and clear presentation skills. Last year, he completed a second internship working on the Hyper-V platform management and extensibility team and, by August, he had secured a position as a full-time employee upon graduation.
But Stahl isn’t stopping there. With his university days behind him, he is already working on a start-up with two friends, based on his fourth-year project where his team developed a platform for teaching embedded systems development.
“Our whole fourth-year project was an amazing amount of work and we’re really proud of what we created. We’d like to see it in classrooms across Canada.”
Stahl credits his Carleton experience with his extracurricular work. His professors, he says, encouraged him to work on projects outside of course work and one was adopted as the new laboratory software in a course.
“I really liked the opportunities I had at Carleton to get involved in programming competitions and with teams working on lots of cool things like UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles), satellites, robots, weather balloons and more.”