Joseph Killian ’22: Accelerated BS/MS program in Computer Science

Name: Joseph Killian

Hometown: Grand Island, NY

Major(s): BS/MS Computer Science BS in Mathematics

Graduation Year: Fall 2022

In January 2023, Joseph began his fully funded offer for the Computer Science Ph.D. program at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. He intends to do research with deep learning using natural language processing and how that applies to problems in the area of cognitive science.

 Why did you choose SUNY Poly?

I chose SUNY Poly after visiting the campus a few times and talking to the cross-country coach. The smaller feel of the campus appealed to me, as well as the prospect of running Division III cross country.

Joseph Killian running in the 8k North Atlantic Conference Cross Country Championships in Canton, NY
© Cottonwood Studios (

Why did you choose major(s)? What do you like about your major(s)?

I initially chose Computer Science for undergrad because I was interested in learning more about computers and programming. Over time at Poly, I also discovered how much I enjoyed and was interested in mathematics, so I decided to add that as a second major. Both of these majors challenged me in different ways but were also closely related, which made the effort of learning something in one area pay off in another.

Why was the accelerated BS/MS Computer Science program appealing to you?

The BS/MS program at SUNY Poly made sense because it was marketed to me as three years in undergrad and then two for my master’s. I took a bunch of AP and advanced classes in high school and discovered I could do it in three years for undergrad and one for my master’s. So it’s like you get a bachelor’s and master’s degree in four years, which saves you a lot of money. So that was probably one of the bigger reasons I ended up here.

Is there a class or academic experience that stands out to you during your time on campus?

For the BS/MS program for Computer Science, I had to take some advanced graduate courses during undergrad. I took MAT 413 – Discrete Mathematics the first semester, and that was rough; it was really hard. I need to go to tutoring. I needed to go to office hours. I needed to do all these things to feel like I could get by. That was eye-opening for me, but I think it was humbling and helped me center myself for the rest of college

How would you describe your experience with your professors?

I started not being as heavily involved with many professors in my first year at Poly. Over time I realized how important and helpful it could be to establish connections with each of the faculty members that I took courses with. In the Mathematics department, Zora Thomova had a huge impact on my path through math and has been a mentor for me throughout my time here. In the computer science department, Bruno Andriamanalimanana, and Michael Reale have also been very helpful in many of the choices I have made at SUNY Poly.

What experiences have you had with research opportunities and internships at SUNY Poly?

I was part of the spring 2022 student project showcase and gave a lightning talk on my BS Capstone project for CS on drug-drug interaction extraction and received second place. It was a good experience for talking about a project I spent a lot of time on and trying to convey that work to a group of people who didn’t have the same background. Currently, I am working on my master’s thesis on filter design on graphs. I also completed an internship for a startup company called NOVI LLC, assisting them with various programming tasks and annotating data for their training algorithms. I now work as a part-time contractor for Pave-AI, doing many of the same tasks.

What has been your favorite class at Poly?

Number Theory was probably my favorite course. It challenged me on the math side of things, but it was also highly applicable to computer science. Each of the problems in that class felt like fun puzzles to try and solve instead of just being a homework problem or question on an exam.

Best academic or social experience at Poly?

During my freshman year on the cross-country team, we did a preseason trip where we hiked and did a high ropes course. It really helped establish a lot of the friendships that I had throughout my time at SUNY Poly.

What are you going to miss most about your time at SUNY Poly?

I’ll definitely miss cross-country. It’s a very big part of my life. It’s weird that it’s coming to an end. I’ll still be running all the time, and I still am now, even though the season’s over. But you know, all the practices, meets, and overnights are probably the best times I had in college.