When Bruce Shen took his first computer science class his junior year of high school, he wouldn’t have guessed that it would end up becoming his major in college.
“At first, I didn’t do well,” Shen said, “but in the months before the AP exam, I really put in effort and got to know most of the stuff. Then I built up the interest in the topic.”
“When I came here, I was in a computer science class and I really liked it” he continued. “From then on, I found that I was really good at it, possibly because of my effort in the past. The confidence built up and I decided that’s what I should be doing and wanted to do in the future.”
Shen is an international student from Beijing, China, and is graduating a year early in order to continue his studies at NYU Engineering school in the fall. Although a bit of an introvert, Shen stands out to many of his professors and is noted for his strong work ethic and diligence.
“Bruce is a wonderful example of how powerful introverts can be,” said Sam Cho, a professor in the Computer Science Department. “Even though he is great to interact with in class among other students, it is clear to me that what lies on the surface is just the tip of the iceberg.”
Shen cites his undergraduate research as his most memorable experience at Wake Forest. He spent 10 weeks one summer working with professor Jennifer Burg on developing a real-time motion monitoring device on cell phones, an application which could be useful for many projects in the future.
“Bruce was one of the most independent and diligent students I ever had working with me,” Burg said. “In the courses that Bruce took with me, he was the top performing student. He stays very healthy and he has mature and independent notions about how to live life well.”
In his free time, Shen enjoys exercising and uses his computer science background to compete in ACM intercollegiate programming competitions. He has more recently taken up meditation.
“Right now, my life is very busy, but I still make sure to work out,” Shen said. “That allows me to use my energy for something, rather than just sitting in front of my computer, which is what people typically picture of computer scientists. I am just getting into meditation, which allows me to concentrate on what I’m doing. I think that it’s really improved my life.”
In graduate school, Shen expects to study binary reverse engineering, which is a field related to computer security.
Computer Security was Shen’s favorite class that he has taken at Wake Forest.
“The class was about not complying with the rules, and how some people want to do malicious things to users online,” Shen said.
He continued to elaborate on how many movies, such as Fast and Furious 8, further misconceptions about computer hackers and computer security.
“That’s one of the main misconceptions portrayed in a lot of movies, that you can hack into anything, but that’s not actually what it’s like,” Shen said. “You have to build up a lot of skill, and it takes time.”
When reflecting on his college career, Shen would advise his freshman self to “team up with others more. Even though you can just work alone, help others, and make some friends via computer science.”
“Having him in class often pushed me to be a better teacher because I knew I could raise the bar and he would continue to reach for it. I know he has a bright future ahead of him,” Cho said.