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Living the lucky life
Kelly Foss
Grant Strong

“Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” – Seneca

Grant Strong lives a charmed life. He is the perfect example of how intelligence and hard work can get you far, but sometimes being in the right place at the right time can help.

Originally from Gander, Mr. Strong came to Memorial in 2002 to begin a BSc. in Computer Science. He quickly followed that up with a B.Ed. with the intention of teaching technology in the school system. But after finishing it, decided to stick around a little longer for a master’s degree.

Mr. Strong’s first idea was to apply to computer engineering, but mistakenly sent it to the computer science department instead. Rather than just passing along the errant file, department head Dr. Wolfgang Banzhaf called him up to offer him a position with a new computer science faculty member, Dr. Minglun Gong.

“Gong and Strong, think of the conference paper bylines!” he jokes. “It was meant to be. Then when I was almost done, it was suggested that I should apply to NSERC to see if I could get funding for a doctoral degree and I did.”

That lead to a few more years with Dr. Gong during which time Mr. Strong jumped to the aid of the head of research for Google’s New York office who was visiting Memorial and was having difficulty connecting to the university’s network prior to giving a keynote talk.

“After getting her online, I was about to leave, but then decided to stay to hear her out. She proceeds to talk about all sorts of Google-y things, and then brings up something I referenced in my master’s thesis.”

A quick chat after the meeting then led to a three-month internship with the NY office, and before leaving he completed interviews for a full-time position with the company. While in Norway on a four-month exchange at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim. Mr. Strong received a call that offered him a job with the California branch of Google in Silicon Valley.

He returned to Memorial at the end of the Norway exchange and wrapped up his duties as a PhD candidate. He successfully defended his PhD thesis on April 22 and left for California the following day.

“The way things intersected was interesting. Everything just kind of worked out. ”

May 27th, 2013

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