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Outstanding Graduate, Spring 2024

Peter Vargas

With a beyond-perfect GPA, an award-winning record and an academic experience peppered with participation in organizations like the Google Developers Student Club and the Software Developers Association, Peter Vargas is that student who proclaims, “I love math!” and unironically means it.

Hailing from Oxnard, California, Vargas grew up with an appreciation for applied mathematics which initially drew him to the computer science program at the School of Computing and Augmented Intelligence, part of the Ira. A Fulton Schools of Engineering at Arizona State University.

“I enjoy the theoretical side of computer science, specifically algorithm design and analysis,” Vargas says.

While in Fulton Schools, Vargas pursued the unique opportunity to work as a student researcher under the supervision of Andrea Richa, a President’s Professor who also heads the Self-Organizing Particle Systems Lab. The lab, funded by grants from the prestigious National Science Foundation, studies collective behavior, such as fish in schools or ants in colonies, and explores ways to apply what they learn to advance the computer science industry.

A relatively rare experience for an undergraduate student, Vargas’ time in Richa’s lab provided special insight.

“Dr. Richa allowed me to join her lab’s meetings, meet her graduate students and see if the research side of computer science was something that I enjoyed,” he says.

Richa was highly impressed by Vargas’s efforts.

“Peter became focused on dynamic networks — a timely research area with applications that include biological, social and computer networks,” says Richa. “His progress has been outstanding, especially as he took over responsibilities for maintaining and improving our dynamic network simulator.”

A stellar student who received the New American University scholarship and made the dean’s list each semester, Vargas gained valuable professional experience with internships at top firms, including Cambridge Investment Research and Garmin International.

With the right resume to fast track his career, he plans to spend the summer working at Microsoft, shadowing their Azure Edge team. Next fall, he’ll return to the Fulton Schools to complete his accelerated master’s degree, a program that allows top-performing students to earn a master’s degree with only one additional year of study.

During rare moments of downtime, Vargas unwinds by watching Breaking Bad, playing the board game “Sequence” and rooting for the L.A. Rams.

His plans for his bright future are inspired by his origin story.

As a first-generation Hispanic student, Vargas is keenly aware of the challenges faced by students from historically underserved populations. He hopes to create an online learning platform that provides easy-to-access, high-quality STEM education.

“I believe that success is not measured by wealth or materialistic items, but by the opportunities you provide to uplift others,” Vargas says.

Read about other exceptional graduates of the Fulton Schools’ spring 2024 class here.

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