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Outstanding Alumnus and Software Engineer Scott Goodfriend

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Silicon Valley is the center of technology, innovation, startups, and cutting-edge research in the United States, and Silicon Valley is where you will find ASMS alumnus, Scott Goodfriend (class of 2006). Specifically, Goodfriend works in San Francisco, where he is a software engineer for Quip. Quip, a subsidiary of Salesforce (and not the toothbrush company), is a collaboration software product with documents, spreadsheets, slides, and chat (sort of like a mix between Google Docs and Slack). Goodfriend has been the tech lead of Quip’s search and tech lead on Salesforce Anywhere.

Prior to his work at Quip and upon graduating from ASMS, Goodfriend attended the California Institute of Technology where he earned his bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering on the biomolecular track. He then pursued his master’s degree in bioengineering from the University of California Berkeley. While in school, Goodfriend conducted research. At Caltech, he worked on optimizing a computational protein design algorithm, developing novel ways to model DNA, and implementing a simulator for self-assembling patterns in the Biology, Computer Science, and Bioengineering departments. At UC Berkeley, he worked on the development of a magnetically guided endovascular microcatheter, a medical instrument that navigates blood vessels to deliver treatment to hard to reach parts of the body.

Of specific significance for Goodfriend was his graduation from Caltech because his degree opened the door for him to enter tech as a software engineer. Goodfriend also attributed his professional success to ASMS. He expressed, “Many of my work habits were formed from ASMS where the course load was tough enough and the environment [required] building an independent work ethic.”

After completing his degrees, Goodfriend worked full time as an iOS software engineer at a company called Pocket Gems, a mobile gaming company. He worked on Campus Life, was a lead engineer in launching War Dragons, and worked on infrastructure for Wild Beyond. Goodfriend described the release of War Dragons as one of the most memorable and meaningful moments in his career. He referred to it as a “hard-fought victory” because it took years of work and several iterations before the game was finally released, and he is proud to have contributed.

Other memorable moments in Goodfriend’s career include releasing updates to Quip’s search and releasing the beta version of Salesforce Anywhere. Today, Goodfriend is a tech lead on Salesforce Anywhere. A tech lead is a software engineer who is responsible for the technical vision and execution of their team. He coordinates and collaborates with other tech leads within the team and throughout Salesforce.

Goodfriend described that ASMS had a positive impact on his professional journey and where he is today. He shared, “ASMS produced an environment with excellent peers and instructors. I was no longer the smartest person, and so I was challenged and (more importantly) introduced to new ideas and opportunities. Many of my work habits and problem-solving techniques have origins from my days at ASMS.”

Goodfriend still retains many fond memories of his time at ASMS including being outside on campus between study hours and curfew, playing ultimate frisbee, having a water balloon fight, and of course Geekfest. He recalls some of his favorite faculty members too like Mrs. Natalya Prokhorova. “Mrs. Prokhorova is an excellent math teacher. I specifically remember her problem-solving elective. That class introduced me to the concept of reducing problems to related, solved problems. This strategy of converting complex problems to problems with known solutions is incredibly useful in computer science and software engineering,” says Goodfriend.

Ultimately, for students who are currently at ASMS and who might want to work in Silicon Valley, attend Caltech, or work in software engineering, Goodfriend provided the following advice, “Always try to join a group of peers who are better than you in what you strive for. ASMS was the first place I wasn’t the smartest person, and learning from the faculty and my peers was critical for getting into Caltech. Caltech was an entirely new level, and that experience allowed me to go into the tech industry in Silicon Valley. … I joined Quip because I knew that my fellow software engineers could teach me a lot more about being a better engineer.”

Even as a young alumnus, Goodfriend has been a faithful donor to the Alabama School of Mathematics and Science. His investment in the school continues to ensure that our students go on to pursue exciting and impactful careers just as he has done.

  • Sep 27, 2020