Naeem Esfahani’s resume is the envy of any computer science major. While studying as an undergraduate at the University of Tehran, he received recognition as the top student in the school two years in a row and graduated as the top student of his class. While working for his Master’s in Computer Engineering at the Sharif University of Technology, he served as a designer, developer, and consultant for numerous Iranian software corporations. Today this Mason graduate is a software engineer at Google.

Esfahani came to America in 2008 to work on his PhD at Mason. “I never had a problem transitioning, it was rather easy for me,” he said. “The hardest part was not being able to see family and loved ones.” He worked closely with his advisor, Sam Malek (now at University of California, Irvine) collaborating with him on numerous papers on self-adaptive software —software that alters itself in response to new conditions: “It’s hard for humans to keep all aspects of a large software system running, so we need to develop software that is responsible for itself to some extent; we need software that can monitor and adjust to new situations.”

As he pursued his degree, he landed a coveted internship at Google. “Google is all about problem solving and innovation.  You expose yourself to challenging problems all the time, which you have to prepare for.” As he rose through the program, he mentored other Mason students applying for Google internships, helping them to prepare for the rigorous demands of the industry. “I loved that time working with them and helping them to grow. I loved helping them to find their own path.”

Esfahani received his doctorate this year and, after turning down offers for assistant professorships, now works as a full-time software engineer at Google’s California headquarters. “The only place I prefer over academia is Google. It is a company that innovates, and I find that fun.”