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Developing Software, Personal Growth Important to UW Alumnus

April 19, 2018
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Computer engineering alumnus Colter Reed works for one of the most innovative companies in the world, Apple.

Just months after beginning his post-college career, Colter Reed found himself without much direction in his life.

Despite graduating with honors from the College of Engineering and Applied Science at the University of Wyoming in 2000, Reed had no job offers or internships lined up after graduation. As a last resort, he moved to Colorado Springs and secured a post working for MCI WorldCom. But just five months later, the company laid off about 250 developers as they descended into bankruptcy.

“There were developers with 20 years of experience who were taking significant pay cuts just to find another position, so for someone who was nine months out of college, it was not a good position to be in,” he says.

He was used to being a pioneer. Because UW didn’t offer a the degree at the time, the transcripts for his degree in electrical engineering with a computer engineering option and computer science were used as blueprints to create the new computer engineering program.

After the job disappeared, he looked for ways to stay relevant in the industry. He began volunteering on an open-source project for an instant messaging app and after the founder approached him about taking it over, he was leading an international group of developers.

His professional journey took him back to the place he had grown up, and for two years, he worked in Rock Springs, Wyo., as a web administrator. But in 2006, a friend persuaded him to take another job–as a software engineer with Apple.

“I couldn’t say yes fast enough,” Reed says. “We’re creating products we want to use. We get excited about it. I’m always amazed that our product gets into people’s hands and they absolutely love it.”

Along with his wife and two children, Reed lives in Silicon Valley in Cupertino, Calif.

“I knew all these places by name because I had seen the press releases. To drive around and see where the products I use are made, there’s a bit of an awe factor,” he says. “But I’ve never felt in any way that I was disadvantaged for having come from Wyoming. It’s a badge of honor. I went through school and graduated without any student debt. I have coworkers with six figures of student debt because they went to a ‘prestigious’ university.”

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