Amazon software engineer stays connected to Grinnell through regional network

May 17, 2019 — During one of his first volunteering ventures as a student, Shitanshu Aggarwal ’11 recalls spending Martin Luther King Day maintaining a park in Seattle.

“We were pulling invasive weeds, so by the end of the day we were all covered in dirt,” he says. “But on the plus side, I met many local alumni that day.”

The sense of community that Aggarwal experienced at that event has continued beyond his Grinnell student days. Now a senior software engineer at Amazon in Seattle, Aggarwal has served as a committee member for the Grinnell-in-Puget Sound Regional Planning Committee for the past five years.

Regional Planning Committees are groups of alumni volunteers who work together and with the Grinnell College Office of Development and Alumni Relations to foster the local Grinnell community in their regions. The committees organize a variety of programs, including social, cultural, and educational events, community service projects, and networking opportunities.

Shitanshu Aggarwal ’11
    Shitanshu Aggarwal ’11

“I enjoy getting together with alumni,” Aggarwal says. “The Grinnell-in-Puget-Sound network keeps me connected with the College. I enjoy hearing updates from College staff and alumni, as well as connecting with recent graduates in the technology field in the Seattle area.”

Aggarwal helps connect current students to internship opportunities at Amazon by forwarding newly posted openings opening to the Grinnell College Computer Science Department. He also has reviewed student resumes in the past and provided coaching before interviews.

Aggarwal says he has been interested in computer science since before college. When researching colleges, he found that Grinnell was one of very few liberal arts colleges with a dedicated Computer Science Department – not just part of the Math Department or secondary to some other department. It also didn’t hurt matters that one of the College’s most notable alums was Robert Noyce ’49, co-founder of Intel.

Aggarwal excelled at Grinnell. He worked for two years as a web application developer, and partook in various research projects. He co-authored a book chapter during his undergraduate research, Large Scale Machine Learning, that was published in GPU Computing Gems.

He went on to receive a master’s degree in computer science and engineering from the University of Washington.

As a member of the Grinnell-in-Puget Sound Regional Planning Committee, he has helped plan and host numerous events in the Seattle area to foster community among local alumni and current students. Earlier this year, he hosted the committee’s planning meeting at Amazon’s campus, and partook in a brewery tour in Tacoma.

“Friendly, approachable, and excited to meet other Grinnellians, Shitanshu’s dedication to his role as a regional volunteer has shown great impact in the Grinnell-in-Puget Sound community,” says Anna Halpin-Healy ‘13, assistant director of alumni relations for regional programs.

Aggarwal says Grinnell instilled in him a sense of responsibility and social justice, which has motivated him to volunteer. “I recommend volunteering to others as well,” he says. “It’s fun and rewarding!”

— by Jeremy Shapiro and Robert Ruhl ’76, Alumni Council

For your information:

Learn more about Grinnell’s Regional Networks program and how to connect with a regional planning committees in 12 different U.S. cities.

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