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Computer science foundation is vital but ongoing learning is priceless, says alumnus

by Monica Smith

Oct 13, 2022, 11:00 AM.

Jason Dettbarn says he leveraged the knowledge gained from his FIU undergraduate and graduate degrees in computer science to create his company, Addigy.
Jason Dettbarn
Jason Dettbarn

When Jason Dettbarn completed his FIU bachelor’s degree in computer science in 2002, he worked in the Knight Foundation School of Computing and Information Sciences and co-created a campus wide platform called AIRS (automated IP registration system). The platform managed the connectivity of every computer and phone across all FIU campuses. The system was used for about 15 years and was the backbone for technology on campus.

After earning his master’s degree in computer science in 2013, Dettbarn noticed a large gap in organizations being able to manage Apple devices (Apple Macs, iPhones, and iPads), thus Addigy was born.

“No one was focusing on the apple ecosystem, so I quit my job, and with a second child on the way, it was the most perfect time to start a bootstrapped business,” says Dettbarn.

Humble beginnings

Seven years ago, when Dettbarn started Addigy, he built software and sold it, literally, out of his spare bedroom. He expanded to a small office, and for his first hires, he went back to his roots—he hired two graduates from the FIU Computer Science Department. Today, his company employs 80 staffers.

“You know, when I started Addigy, network security requirements were not that big a deal, but in my particular sector, like Solarwinds and Kaseya, that were easily hacked, it’s very, very different today, and I could not start Addigy today the way I did back then,” says Dettbarn.

FIU grad pipeline

With a couple thousand customers globally, Dettbarn says Addigy is growing at a significant pace, and with that growth, he’s built a pipeline of fit talent to rise to the needs. Every one of the key roles at Addigy from product management to leadership and operations to security, is filled by an FIU graduate, he reveals. Many of these employees started as interns with the company.

“We are definitely the recipients of great talent from FIU,” affirms Dettbarn who highlights that there is no shortage of work for computer scientists.

Prepare for success

The most important thing for those in computer engineering is to be assertive and have the fundamentals like Java, and try not to get into computer languages, because you can always learn computer languages, advises Dettbarn.

“But having full web stack experience is extremely important today because everything out there falls into those categories. There are graduates who don’t have those fundamentals and it’s a real disservice to their careers to not have that,” he offers.

Keep learning

Dettbarn notes that he looks for graduates who are “malleable,” who are willing to learn. Some companies may look for candidates who have years of experience in a computer programming language, but languages will change over time, he says.

“I look for employees who are hungry, humble and smart. We’re humble, that means the smartest people in the company will listen to their peers and are hungry for feedback. Those with egos don’t last in the company,” he says.

His best advice to those who are nearing graduation: Keep learning.

“Be willing and able to help and be coached and you will have success,” he says.

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