When Orrett Douglas-Prawl received unsolicited emails from Google, and later from a Microsoft recruiter, asking him to interview for a job, he was stunned. One look at his resume, however, and it’s no surprise. The computer engineering student developed two apps, interned for Electric Boat, garners outstanding grades, and serves as president of the National Society of Black Engineers URI chapter. He also works at the University’s computer Help Desk and plays rugby. “I like advancing myself and moving forward,” he says. “Being involved is a way to do that.”
Engineering courses focusing on the intersection between computer hardware and software appealed to Orrett. His professors challenged him and the freshman Engineering Living and Learning Community provided him a support group and circle of friends. By junior year, he was teaching himself to code mobile apps for Google’s Android platform. One app calculates restaurant tips. The other allows users to access all their cloud-stored files in one place—whether they are stored on Google Drive, Dropbox, or a similar service. For Orrett, it’s only the beginning. “Just knowing that you might invent the next big thing, that’s the fun part,” he says.
Just knowing that you might invent the next big thing, that’s the fun part.
Orrett first put URI on his radar after speaking with Charles Watson, the College of Engineering’s minority student recruitment and retention coordinator, at an engineering college fair during high school at Stamford’s Academy of Information Technology and Engineering. He liked what he heard about the URI engineering program and the beautiful campus, so he applied, won a University Fund Grant, and matriculated. Four years later, he’s on the cusp of graduating. When he does, he’ll be the first in his family to do so.
He’s currently waiting to hear back from Microsoft and Google. If it doesn’t work out, Orrett has a fallback: bootstrap a tech startup and have it acquired. If his four years at URI are any indication of his future success, that shouldn’t be hard.