Interview by Viktoria Pashtriku
The next Engineer Spotlight in our series features Chorten Dolma, a member of the Computer Engineering team at Duro. She discusses being multi-lingual — both regarding the tongue and computer, the work she is doing in system programming for the Harbor AUV and how excited she is for the project to be nearing completion!
Viktoria Pashtriku: Could you start by introducing yourself?
Chorten Dolma: My name is Chorten Dolma and I am a Computer Engineering major at City College of New York. Right now I am on the Computer team here at Duro UAS.
VP: What first motivated you to pursue engineering?
CD: I’ll have to say it’s because of my high school, Queens Vocational and Technical High School. Because it’s a vocational school, my major there was electronics. I really enjoyed it, especially when we did some programming for the robots that we built.
I asked my teacher what was the most related field to what we were doing in class and she told me it was computer engineering. So I went ahead and majored in computer engineering when I got to college.
VP: I understand that you are passionate about programming and system development. Could you tell us a little about that?
CD: I feel like programming and system development go hand-in-hand and are really relatable to each other. I like seeing my work come alive when I do coding and I can see that happening here at Duro. I perform some coding for the systems and see things happening right in front of my eyes. This is what makes me feel excited about computer engineering, programming and system development.
VP: I heard that you speak five languages. So does your love of languages and diverse background motivate your passion to learn different programming languages?
CD: Actually, I wouldn’t say that. For me, the reason why I know so many languages is because I was born in a society where I was forced to learn them. I was born in Nepal, which means I learned Nepali. Growing up I watched many Hindi shows, which is similar to Nepali, and learned Hindi. My religion is Buddhism, which means I had to learn Tibetan in order to practice it.
As you can see, these languages were simply picked up as I was growing up, and I am very happy that I know them and can use them in my life. But learning computer languages is very different – it’s conscious. I don’t just pick up computer languages, I have to actively pursue learning them. I have to focus my attention, do the hard work and be determined in order to learn them. Learning them is much harder, but also fun and rewarding. That’s what makes it so different. I don’t think it’s similar at all.
VP: Because you grew up in Nepal, is it challenging working in programming?
CD: Education and learning is different in Nepal than it is here. I was born in Nepal and lived there until around the fifth grade. While I was still going to school there, school required a lot of memorization and being fed the answers.
When I came to the US, I realized that the school system here is different and that I had to change my way of thinking as a result. Here, you must really think about the answers – critical thinking is crucial. So I changed the way I was learning in order to adapt to this new school system. Because of that shift, it is not challenging at all to work in computer programming.
VP: Has being a female shaped your experience as an engineer?
CD: Somewhat. It’s definitely more challenging. But at the same time, being a woman motivates me to become successful as an engineer — there are not a lot of females in the engineering fields, so being one motivates and drives me to work harder to succeed.
VP: How did you end up at Duro?
CD: My friend Esha Rahman introduced me to Duro. I was looking for an internship and she let me know that Duro was seeking some computer engineers. So I applied and got accepted.
“Being a woman motivates me to become successful as an engineer — there are not a lot of females in the engineering fields, so being one motivates and drives me to work harder to succeed.”
VP: Congrats! So what are you currently working on here at Duro?
CD: Right now I am currently working with GUI, Graphical User Interface, using Python, a programming language. I am using these programs because they will be used for our GPS for the vehicle. I have learned a lot here at Duro on how to use these programs, and am learning, and I am very grateful for it!
VP: What goals or aspirations do you have for your future career?
CD: It’s very simple. I just want to succeed as an engineer. Simple as that. I don’t have an ultimate goal specifically; I just want to work very hard. Perhaps I could create a technology or app that will help further advance the technologies that we have right now — that would be great!
VP: Aside from engineering and programming what other passions do you have?
CD: I definitely like music and singing. I love K-Pop! I don’t know if that’s a popular genre of music, but I enjoy it! I also like playing sports and watching lots of TV shows.
VP: Is there anything else you would like say or add?
CD: I am very excited that we will be reaching our goals in finishing the vehicle very soon!
VP: Thank you!