“Meet a UChicagoan” Series Features Borja Sotomayor

March 03, 2020

Borja Sotomayor is known for many things, including geeky t-shirts, Squirrel Cam, Hack Night, and advocacy for inclusion in computer science. The latest edition of Meet a UChicagoan features the UChicago CS senior lecturer and director of the Master's Program in Computer Science talking about what made him fall in love with the university, and why he remains so active with the student community both within and outside the department.

His research, with distinguished computer scientist Ian Foster, focused on a type of computing called distributed systems; but he found he also loved the connections made by teaching and mentoring students. He coached the University’s teams in the International Collegiate Programming Contest and advised other student groups connected to computer science. One of them was a group of students who got together on Friday nights to work on coding projects; when that group graduated, Sotomayor took up the mantle, and has been convening “Hack Night” ever since.

Despite the name, students don’t have to hack anything—it’s a space to gather, get advice from others, play games, and make organic connections on shared interests or projects. “It’s a low-stakes entry point for anyone,” Sotomayor says. “When I went to school in Spain, professors were sort of ‘haloed’—they weren’t someone you would form connections with. I was lucky to have some who thought differently, who welcomed students to get to know them, and that’s what I try to do.”

Read more about Sotomayor at UChicago News.