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Computer engineering student seeks MBA, new challenges

UC student pursues ROTC, Honors and language studies on path to tech career

A young woman with dark hair and glasses stands in front of a monument in South Korea wearing jeans and a t-shirt.

Trinia Medrano in South Korea. Photo//Provided

Trinia Medrano (computer engineering '21) has found the University of Cincinnati to be full of surprises so far.

In fact, she considered UC for its civil engineering program based on a longstanding interest in architecture. But she reconsidered her choice right before submitting her application.

“My love for technology surpassed my love for architecture,” she says smiling.

Medrano, who loves keeping up on technological developments, became interested in computer engineering in high school when she took an AP computer science course. At UC, she found that computer engineering offered her an unignorably perfect blend of coding and hands-on work.

A new major wasn’t the only change for Medrano. She also became a cadet with the U.S. Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) at UC.

“To be honest, ROTC was a surprise decision, even to me,” Medrano says.

At the time she joined ROTC, she had only recently received her notice of approval for permanent U.S. residency. (Medrano’s family is from the Philippines, and none of her relatives are in the armed forces.)

After meeting some fellow cadets and ROTC staff, she felt drawn to the program.

I took ROTC as a personal challenge for myself physically, mentally and academically.

Trinia Medrano Computer Engineering '21

Two female cadets in camouflage battledress uniform stand outside the entrance of a building, smiling. Several other cadets in uniform are walking into the building in the background

Trinia Medrano with fellow cadets. Photo/provided

Medrano enjoys the strict discipline of the military life, as well as the camaraderie of cadets.

“I took ROTC as a personal challenge for myself physically, mentally and academically. Plus, there is a great need for technically-skilled people in the armed forces, so I found scholarship opportunities,” she says.

As a cadet, she is used to operating with a large hierarchy. She had her first exposure to the corporate world in UC's top-ranked co-op program by working at General Electric.

“Working at GE made me see how large and varied the corporate environment can be,” she says.

During her first co-op, Medrano worked on the No. 1 embedded software development program at GE Transportation, referred to as MCA for Modular Control Architecture. The end goal of the project was to modernize the current locomotive control system, which is a few decades old. In the second planning phase of that project, she tested some code written for the system that would later be installed in locomotives.

In her second co-op rotation at GE the following year, Medrano transitioned to an information systems and data management position at GE Aviation. She was assigned to work on the company’s online portal for co-op candidates and records systems, creating reports from the employee data.

 It’s clear that Medrano certainly enjoys a challenge; she’s also in the UC Honors program

“The program helps me nurture my creativity,” she says.

Her most recent honors project studied the influence of local coffee shops on the Cincinnati community.

“In the end, not only did I learn about how local coffee shops helped developed local communities,” Medrano says. “I also  learned about how some of these local shops were started because of global missions to help coffee growers and smaller communities in third-world countries.”

College student with dark hair in a ponytail and glasses stands in the foreground, pointing at a tower that reads "Nami Island" in the background. There are several tourists in the background on stairs and near trees.

Trinia Medrano at Nami Island. Photo/provided

Her creativity is not limited to a single discipline or locale; her first honors project included a two-week solo trip to South Korea and an accompanying video log.

She studied the social and linguistic concepts of respect articulated in the Korean language and culture. Korean grammar uses an extensive system of honorifics (which reflect the speaker's relationship to the subject) and speech levels (which reflect the speaker's relationship to the audience) to express themselves in a nuanced social dynamic that may seem complicated to Americans.

Medrano first discovered her interest in Korean about six years ago through K-pop, a popular type of music in Korea.

“In learning the language, I gained interest in the culture,” she says.

Medrano, who is fluent in Tagalog and Ilocano (languages spoken in the Philippines), has also studied Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Latin, in various capacities. Medrano saw similarities between the languages and cultures of South Korea and the Philippines and wanted to have an immersive experience South Korea.

Medrano is also in the ACCEND program, simultaneously pursuing an MBA along with her bachelor’s degree. It is not necessarily the typical path for computer engineers (many choose to earn a master’s of science in a technical field), but Medrano has her eye on a corporate prize. After her career in the Air Force, she says she would love to work at a tech giant like Google, Apple, Microsoft or Tesla.

 “My dream job is in transportation. Getting there faster, more smoothly and safer than the current standards," she says.

Inspired by other countries’ transportation infrastructures, she is particularly interested in public transit.

“I would love to see bullet trains happen in the US. I would love to be a part of that,” she says.