Electronic Media, Arts, and Communication (EMAC) major Trevor Phillippi is on top of the world. The Langhorne, Pennsylvania, native and four-time intramural A-League basketball champion will receive his bachelor’s degree from Rensselaer at Commencement 2015 on May 30.
“I liked RPI’s unique position of offering an interdisciplinary art/design curriculum, in addition to being able to study more technical things I was interested in, like Web development and programming,” said Phillippi. “Visiting the EMAC open house and seeing the interesting work that students were doing made me optimistic I would be able to excel as well.”
Don’t do something because others want you to, or you think it will land you a lot of money. Do something because whatever that something is, you get lost in it and want to do it forever. Whether it’s math, art, programming, design, etc., I think the world would be a better place if everyone was doing what they love.”
Following graduation, Phillippi will make the move across the country, heading to the San Francisco Bay area after landing his dream job with Facebook as a product designer. “My most memorable experience involving Rensselaer and the community was definitely competing in hackathons with friends I met here,” Phillippi said. “We made personal and professional connections with people from other schools, got to travel the country and learn valuable skills all while having fun and growing closer together as friends. I wound up getting recruited by my dream companies through my hackathon projects.”
With graduation just around the corner, the Office of News and Editorial Services had a chance to interview Phillippi about his experiences at Rensselaer.
Please list some of your most memorable academic and extracurricular accomplishments at Rensselaer.
At RPI, I competed with some other students in hackathons around the country, and we encountered a lot of success. On the projects, I was the designer and worked with three computer science students to build interesting products in short periods of time. We competed amongst top students from top universities and did very well.
Some of our achievements include:
PennApps Fall 2014 (University of Pennsylvania): Winner of top awards from Facebook and Uber for an iOS app called Walk With Me, designed to address personal safety issues on college campuses. For this, we won an all-expenses-paid trip to the Facebook headquarters in California to compete in their Global Hackathon Finals.
Hack@Brown Spring 2015 (Brown University): Winners of Best User Experience for iOS app Marquee, to help discover movies you and your friends may be interested in.
Facebook Global Hackathon Finals (Facebook HQ, Menlo Park, California): Among 17 top teams from around the world, we won Honorable Mention for Steno.fm, a search engine for podcasts.
PennApps Spring 2015 (University of Pennsylvania): Top 10 Finalist for Picks, an iOS app to sort through photos on your phone and help you find the best one.
PennApps Spring 2014 (University of Pennsylvania): Top 10 Finalist for Trump, a social iOS game played among friends.
What are some of the benefits that you enjoyed at Rensselaer?
The biggest benefit of the community is the other students. There are so many brilliant and passionate people and once I realized that, I was able to collaborate with them on interesting things and make great friends at the same time.
Are there any particular challenges or obstacles that you had to overcome while at Rensselaer?
The only real challenge I encountered is balancing a ton of different passions and commitments. You become exhausted and sometimes question whether all of the school and side projects are worth it. Rensselaer will pull the best out of you. I coped by forming strong relationships, and whenever I’d feel myself getting too stressed, I would go to the Armory to play basketball and, without fail, it would make me feel better.
Did you participate in a sport or are you involved in any Rensselaer student organizations?
I played basketball my freshman year, was a resident assistant in Residence Life my junior year, and a resident director my senior year. I played basketball because I love the sport more than any other activity, and wanted to give it a shot playing in college. It was a great experience, but ultimately came at the expense of time I wanted to devote to schoolwork and side projects, which is why I only played one year. I became a resident assistant and director because I had a great experience living on campus and thought it would be rewarding to serve in that role as well.
While at Rensselaer, what are the old or new hobbies and interests that you pursued?
By becoming friends with software engineers and taking computer science classes, I gained the ability to work on my own ideas in my free time, and not just designing, but building software became a big hobby for me.
Based on your experience, what advice can you offer to the incoming class of students?
My advice to incoming students would be to never let yourself be bored and commit yourself fully to your passions, and find other people with similar passions. If you love something, go do it and become great at it. If you feel alone, find other people passionate about something and collaborate and work with them, and hold each other accountable. I wouldn’t have been able to get through school if it weren’t for other designers at Rensselaer who I became incredibly close with, and could always bounce ideas off of no matter what time it was or what we all had going on.
Don’t do something because others want you to, or you think it will land you a lot of money. Do something because whatever that something is, you get lost in it and want to do it forever. Whether it’s math, art, programming, design, etc., I think the world would be a better place if everyone was doing what they love.