The Magazine for Alumni and Friends of the University of Wyoming
University of Wyoming
1000 East University Ave.
Laramie, WY 82071-2000
By L.R. Jackson
Riding for the brand means loyalty, dedication and pride. Alumnus Colter Reed left his mark on UW and has ridden all the way to a successful career as a software engineer at Apple Inc.
A native of Rock Springs, Wyo., Reed chose UW’s College of Engineering and Applied Science, despite offers from other universities. “There’s a particular power in a less-populated university: opportunity,” he says. “At a big university, all of the courses are taught in a 90-degree lecture hall, and the best you can hope for is just to stay awake. I had so many opportunities at UW where I could really stand out and be noticed.”
Noticed he was. As a senior at UW, Reed was selected as the student employee of the year, largely for his work on creating Internet-based learning programs, the predecessors of today’s online classrooms. Because the university didn’t have a computer engineering 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 program.
“It was a great experience to be able to help the college and help the students who would come after me,” he says.
But his most memorable opportunity was his senior project, when he designed and built a microprocessor from scratch. “I’d had the opportunity to attend classes taught by a visiting professor … dealing with advanced microprocessors,” Reed says. “I had so much fun that I decided to create a microprocessor of my own.
“The next thing I knew, my instructors were using the results of my project to teach the microprocessor architecture class,” he adds.
Although advanced degrees abound at Apple, Reed’s degree from UW keeps him in the thick of things. In 2009, he was part of the programming team to ready the iPad for its 2010 debut, and he continues to work in research and development with Apple. His days are filled with figuring out how to make incredible things happen with software, especially easy-to-use programs for every-day people.
“I want to help bring out the best in people by giving them the tools to do things they couldn’t do before, and doing them faster and easier,” he says.
Along with his projects for Apple, Reed maintains a blog on software and personal productivity, as well as balancing his life with family time.
“I’ve always wanted to work for Apple. … I learned to be entrepreneurial, to really drive my own success when I was at UW. I had the opportunity to get out of my education what I put into it, and I am where I want to be.”
IMPACT: Key player in laying the foundation for UW’s computer engineering degree and now contributing to Apple as a software engineer.