Ariana Huhko ’24: Computer Science  

As Herkimer native Ariana Huhko was finishing up high school, she considered two very different paths — go to college to study art or pursue a math-based major. She chose the latter, much like her father and brother’s experiences going on to careers in the tech industry. It wasn’t until she came to SUNY Poly, where she enrolled in the university’s BS/MS Computer Science program, that her interest in the subject expanded.  

“It wasn’t just the classes, but also the things you do outside of them, [like] the research groups you join and internships,” she explained. “Those opportunities give you a different experience beyond the theoretical aspects that classrooms have to offer.”  

Ariana speaking at the Griffiss Institute’s 2023 Summer Soirée.

Ariana has taken full advantage of those opportunities, already collaborating with peers on and off campus.   

This past summer she participated in Griffiss Institute’s RI Intern program, which allowed her to work on the base as a contractor. Huhko spent much of her time at the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), lauding the hands-on experience in the field that it offered, and phenomenal networking opportunities. Ariana was chosen to represent her cohort of interns and speak about her experience at Griffiss’ Summer Soirée by Incubation Director Hannah Reece who praised her for her “leadership qualities” and “dynamic personality.”

Ariana is excited to return to Griffiss Institute this month, where she will assist Reece with a Girls in STEM camp that she organized. The focus of the camp is to empower the next generation of female STEM leaders. Ariana will be teaching nine-year-old students how to code and program robots.  

“I chose Ariana to support this camp because of her demonstrated character and dynamic interests as a multipotentialite,” said Reece. “Statistically girls lose interest in STEM fields around age 10. I am intentionally highlighting women in these STEM fields in hopes that these girls will reframe the possibility of seeing themselves someday pursuing a STEM degree like Ariana in attempts to encourage females to step into male dominated industries.”

On SUNY Poly’s campus, she is involved in research with SUNY Poly Professor Dr. Amos Confer, helping to create a virtual embedded computer architecture system.   

Ariana is on pace to finish the undergraduate portion of the BS/MS program this semester, something she will have done in three years, due to credits earned in high school. She is also minoring in Network + Computer Security (Cybersecurity).  

The coding skills from her computer science courses and experience with operating systems such as Linux from her cybersecurity classes proved valuable in her research and internship experiences and will continue to be critical as she begins her career in the industry.   

Between school and research opportunities, Ariana has less time to dedicate to art, but it remains an important part of her life.  

One of Ariana’s recent paintings.

Drawing is where her art exploration began, followed by an interest in painting, more specifically acrylics.   

“Picture something like Bob Ross,” she joked, adding that she’d like to get into impressionism and ceramics in the future.  

Ariana enjoys blending the different art mediums, seeing how one can manipulate the other.   

A nature scene painted by Ariana.

She’s currently taking computer graphics and machine learning courses, where they are developing algorithms for image processing and working with AI to generate art, blending her math prowess and artistic perspective. And it may strike some by surprise, but computer science and art might not be that different after all, Huhko explains, noting that both can have a problem-solving aspect to them.   

“A lot of art is math,” she said. “There’s an order to how you do things. You know that you have to use certain techniques first in order to achieve a certain outcome, similar to when you’re programming something. Overall, just being able to have different backgrounds and experiences in general opens doors and allows you to approach problems through a different mindset.”  

As she looks forward to the remaining year and a half in the BS/MS program, Ariana has already fielded job offers, recently accepting a position at Rome-based Booz Allen Hamilton.   

Reflecting on her time at Poly, Ariana encourages her peers to reach out and draw from the experience of their professors and friends in the industry.   

“I’m making the most of my academic career, working with professors, connecting with them on research opportunities, and making sure they know my name,” Ariana noted. “I’ve been able to get their advice on different job offers since many of them have connections to different companies. Just meeting and talking with them, there’s so much you can get out of that.”   

Ariana recently accepted a position at Rome-based Booz Allen Hamilton.