Spotlight: UCSD’s Mojgan Amini – Computer Science is the Wave of the Future

Posted by Karishma Morabia, UCB student intern, UCOP. In high school, Mojgan Amini’s counselor asked her what major she wanted to pursue in college. Amini said maybe art and painting. The counselor responded with silence. Amini then said she liked drawing so maybe she’d go into architecture… More silence. On her third attempt, she mentioned she enjoyed her computer science class. Her counselor immediately said, “Computer science is the wave of the future! That’s a perfect choice.”

With this emphatic nudge, Amini embarked on a bachelor’s degree in computer science (CS) at Cal Poly Pomona, and by her final year, realized she actually really enjoyed it. She followed up with a master’s degree in CS at USC, where she also launched her IT career. “I was lucky to be able to ride the tech boom wave in the 1990s and early 2000,” she said. “I got experience in big tech companies as well as small start-ups, contributing to national and international standards, doing R&D work, as well as product development.”

Fifteen years later, she made a full-circle back to higher education, becoming one of the senior IT directors at UC San Diego. “I appreciate the mission of the university and the difference that I can make locally and globally,” she said. In her role, Amini provides easy ways to deliver superior IT services, ensures alignment with campus needs, promotes lean and optimized processes, and gauges the value of work.

Amini’s department includes critical functions for the IT organization, including Service Management; Project Management; Portfolio Management; Continuous Improvement; and IT governance, outreach, audit, and policy. At present, her team is working on an IT service catalog, project management and reporting framework, a unified service desk, and process optimization mindset. As director, her typical day might include balancing project work, strategic meetings, team building, campus IT governance, delivering presentations, and participating in systemwide collaborations.

In her spare time, Amini enjoys spending time with and empowering children. She volunteers at the local school district, providing public speaking and leadership programs. This summer she will embark on a global project for elementary school children in Kenya, and will help outfit a freshly built six-room school in the village of Mikei. She hopes to utilize her painting skills to design fun and colorful classrooms.

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