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Spotlight

Subhan Ali

MS ’09, PhD ’15, Civil & Environmental Engineering
Story originally published on Oct 2016
I am an engineer. To me, engineering is about people. We all think it’s about an analytical model, but at the end of the day, if you aren’t able to make that person-to-person connection, you can’t design a solution that’s going to have an impact on people’s lives.

You have to have the ability to relate and put yourself in someone else’s shoes.

I came to Stanford to be a civil engineer. My dad was a civil engineer; it was very familiar to me. I got my PhD in Civil and Environmental Engineering but ended up going into data analytics. When I got to Stanford, I found myself in this place where all kinds of new and exciting things were happening – there’s just something very different in the air here that you don’t find anywhere else. I really began to see the impact technology would have on the world. Once I started seeing that, I started looking at my skill set and trying to figure out where I wanted to go. A lot of my friends got their PhDs and diverted a little bit from the field they had been in. After I graduated I did a postdoctoral fellowship/boot camp for people who have PhDs and wanted to go into data science. After I finished this I began to look for jobs. Ultimately, it was through this and my associations with the Stanford Alumni Association’s CareerConnect program that I found my current job doing business analytics for Symantec. Stanford taught me that it’s all about people and community, and I think my story and career trajectory so far is a testament to that.

Beyond my engineering work, I helped start the Stanford Muslim Alumni Association. We have about 300 to 400 active people in our group. We have a Reunion Homecoming event every year, and we will again this year. It’s another great way for me and others in this community to stay connected to the farm.

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