Dr. Matthew Jaffe is a professor in Computer Science at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University – Prescott.
What motivated you to pursue a career in this industry?
In 1972 I was the Naval Tactical Data Systems (NTDS) officer on a frigate in the Gulf of Tonkin, standing watches as the Ship’s Weapon Coordinator . The NTDS we used then was very primitive and mistakes, with occasionally lethal consequences, were all too easy to make. In my youthful naivete, I thought that the combination of my operational experience with a computer background (I had earned my way through college as a computer programmer) might be advantageously put to use in the the design of more up-to-date combat systems better suited to the operational realities of modern combat.
If you could go back to your college days, what would you do differently and why?
I’d try harder to finish the physics major I started on (I was a dual major, math and physics, but dropped the physics to concentrate on mathematics, which I found easier.)
What is the biggest highlight of your career so far?
I’ve had several careers (naval officer, aerospace engineer, and now college professor). Here at ERAU, being selected as the College of Engineering’s Teacher of the Year a few years ago was particularly gratifying to me, particularly considering the competition.
What are your plans for the future?
Keep doing what I’m doing — teaching and publishing — trying always to get better at both.
Can you discuss your background and what motivated you to come to Embry-Riddle?
In the early part of my time in the Navy, I was a student naval aviator flying A-4s, so a university steeped in aviation seemed like a good fit for me.
What skills/strengths make our graduates stand out in the work force?
If they can survive the grillings we give them during their senior design reviews, they can handle anything industry will throw at them.