Ryan Fleming's MS in IoT is an ECE First

Ryan Fleming's MS in IoT is an ECE First

Ryan Fleming sparked a new tradition at ECE when he became its first student to earn an online master's degree in Computer Engineering in The Internet of Things (IoT). But looking back, Ryan says his journey was anything but traditional.

Please click this sentence to read the latest blog post featuring interviews with Ryan Fleming, and Alexis Alulema-Flores. Many thanks to Rick Robb, Sr. Student Success Specialist at UNM Online for sharing this great story with ECE!

"I would consider myself a traditional student now, but I took a slightly strange road to get here," said the 27-year-old R&D engineering professional from his home in Los Alamos.

"I grew up in a very chaotic and unhealthy environment as a kid, so it meant quite a bit to be able to escape that cycle and move forward in my life."    

Ryan drove 20 miles each way to Eldorado High from his home in Peralta, New Mexico, a town of 3,500 located outside of Los Lunas. Meanwhile, his folks worked their way through a messy divorce, and he learned how to survive in an abusive home environment, tainted with drug abuse.  

Ryan always loved computers. He grew up playing older video games on a Windows 98 machine and dreamt of making "the next big video game." And, as he got older, he segued into the study of computer programming.

"I found that I enjoyed solving different, sometimes abstract, problems via code. It was easy to get my mind into a very relaxing meditative state where things started to flow. I would highly recommend this path to others, but only if they enjoy it."

Ryan feels that a person should carefully examine their motivations for becoming an engineer.   

"I know plenty of people who wanted to get into engineering because it pays well, only to drop out because they didn’t have the passion for it," he said.

Ryan did not attend any courses in person at ECE because he worked full time during his entire degree path.

"Because my courses were online, I had the flexibility to get them done from home whenever I had free moments, and this was critical in me being able to complete the degree in a reasonable amount of time," Ryan said.

"I felt comfortable with all the online courses and feel that the program did a good job setting up their courses to be self-paced. The professor I got to know the most was Jim Plusquellic: I took several courses from him and was able to work with him one-on-one during this final semester in support of some of his research."

Ryan plans to get a Ph.D. someday, but probably not in Computer Engineering. "My ultimate goal is to get it in something like Neuroscience and meld my knowledge of computers with newfound knowledge of the brain to try and better understand what makes all of us tick."

Ryan SnowboardingTechnically, Ryan's Degree is a "Master's in Computer Engineering with a focus on the Internet of Things." That means he has a recognized MS in Computer Engineering, but many of his courses were directly related to IoT.

The Internet of Things is a network of many devices all connected via the Internet. Some of these things are in our everyday life, ranging from smart cars, smart light bulbs, smart TVs, or almost anything with the word "smart" in front of it. They provide more convenience to many of us and offers enhanced security (we have all seen the doorbell cameras, etc.).

"The cool part about IoT is that with all of these connected devices, there is an endless number of possibilities for innovation," Ryan said.

Ryan Fleming works at Los Alamos National Labs and his title is Engineering Technologist 1, but the successful completion of his master's degree puts him in line for a promotion to Research and Development Engineer.

"Most of what I do relies on working with particle accelerator physicists to bring experimental ideas into reality, via programming, automation, and different data acquisition techniques," said Ryan.

"On a typical day at work, I could spend time wiring up different devices, building vacuum chambers, running high energy experiments, programming, or writing papers about some recent results."

Thanks to hard work and diligence, things are looking up for Ryan, who spends almost all his free time these days snowboarding, but his orbit is looking pretty good, as well.

Ryan and his wife, Mikala, are expecting their first child in May of 2021. The couple has been together now for just over ten years.

"We started dating in high school and are one of those weird couples that stuck together," Ryan said, laughing.