Iban Ariza, B.S. in Discrete Mathematics

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Georgia Tech’s reputation and a family connection were the main factors that brought Iban J. Ariza all the way from Barcelona, Spain, to Atlanta, Georgia. Aspiring to be an industrial engineer, Iban knew that Tech has the top Industrial Systems Engineering program in the U.S.

In addition, his father, Carlos Ariza, got an M.S. in Industrial Engineering and a Master of Business Administration at Tech. “He continues to be full of praise for Tech,” Iban says of his father.

An avid soccer and golf player, Iban is graduating with a B.S. in Discrete Mathematics. He completed high school at LaSalle Bonanova, in Barcelona, Spain. “During my high school years, I was constantly challenged to reach new goals and to learn as much as I could in preparation for my university studies,” Iban says. “My high school helped me ease into the demanding environment that is Tech.”

What is the most important thing you learned at Georgia Tech?

To always get your sleeping hours. ALWAYS.

Most people think that Georgia Tech will cut down your hours of sleep and cause a lot of stress because of the demanding workload. I believe you can do anything with proper organization.

Is your method of study time consuming? Is there a better way to learn? Can you absorb more information in a shorter time by using techniques x,y,z? Freshmen students should be looking at how to improve their study methods.

Learn how to learn, then actually learn. But my main recommendation would be to always get your sleep.

What surprised you most at Georgia Tech?

It came as a huge surprise to me when I learned that Tech hosted the Summer Olympic Games in 1996, especially because Barcelona, my hometown, hosted them in 1992.

I was also surprised to experience the wide diversity and inclusion from different organizations on campus. Moreover, it is a good feeling to know that you’re in one of the top universities in the country and that you’re learning with some of the best professionals in their fields of study.

Which professor(s) or class(es) made a big impact on you?

I consider a class to be impactful if I ended up enjoying the subject more than when I started taking it. Among the classes I enjoyed more in the end are probability and statistics taught by Professor Plamen Iliev; quantum computing, by Professor Brian Kennedy; and calculus, by Prov. Stavros Garoufalidis.

Most of my computer science classes – such as algorithms, data structures, and operating systems – were impactful, as was my research mentor, Professor Lew Lefton.

What is your most vivid memory of Georgia Tech?

All the soccer days that I spent with friends.

When I first came to Tech, I played indoor soccer every Friday. That is where I met most of my current friends and best friends. Now, we post our game highlights on Facebook and meet almost every day for about two hours. It feels amazing. Soccer is called the “Beautiful Game” for good reasons.

A shout-out to my intramural team, called Root 19! We have won three Independent Soccer Intramural tournaments, two India Club Tournaments, and countless other competitions. To them, I say: “Guys, we’ve left a legacy in this university. Hopefully, we'll get a statue someday!”

What was the most valuable outcome of your participation in experiential learning activities?

My first internship, during freshman year, helped me understand that industrial engineering was not my passion. After careful thought, I decided to change my major to discrete mathematics.

But as a self-learner, I was passionate about many subjects – including chemistry, biology, and physics. I almost transferred to physics and chemical engineering before deciding on mathematics. There is a lot to think about when changing your major field of study, so talk to your advisors. They provide great insight.

What advice would you give to incoming freshmen at Georgia Tech?

I would encourage students to start working and applying for internships in their early years. Get a feeling of what the market needs and the common jobs for someone with your degree.

In addition:

  • Find your passion; talk to your advisors to learn if your passion aligns with the job market
  • Always get seven to eight hours of sleep
  • Eat healthy
  • Go out with friends at least once a week
  • Find a way to relieve stress: sports, yoga, walking, traveling
  • Avoid 8 AM classes
  • Make use of professors’ office hours
  • Stay motivated
  • Stay happy and laugh everyday
  • Learn how to invest

Where are you headed after graduation?

Georgia Tech has done a great job to prepare me for my future. I currently have a couple of offers to work as a software engineer with Fortune 500 companies, but I am still interviewing with other companies.

Georgia Tech has great computer science and mathematics programs. However, what you really need to educate yourself in is your passion and your ability to think creatively and solve real-world problems. Much of the high-demand workforce skills come from self-learning or continued learning, which arise from motivation, commitment, and a need to improve our world.


  • Workflow Status: Published
  • Created By: A. Maureen Rouhi
  • Created: 11/28/2017
  • Modified By: sbarone7
  • Modified: 12/20/2017


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