Rachel Litscher is a web developer who just dipped her toes into management this past summer. Her future in the tech world is bright. For that, she credits a decision made in the spring of 2019.

Litscher was a fourth semester nursing student when she embarked upon her first computer science course. Six weeks into the class – with no other background in the field – she realized she loved computer science and switched majors.

“It was a tough decision,” Litscher recalled. “Nursing was really cool, but it was just not the career choice I wanted to make. Computer science was calling me.”

She took five semesters of computer science in undergrad, “but that wasn’t enough,” Litscher said. She applied to the Virginia Tech Master of Engineering (M.Eng) program in computer science and was awarded a Boeing Scholarship. The program is currently based out of the Falls Church campus but will move to the Innovation Campus in Alexandria when it opens in 2024.

“I’ve always loved Virginia Tech. I wanted to go to Virginia Tech for undergrad, but they didn’t have a nursing program,” said Litscher, who is originally from Haymarket, Virginia. “I not only want to learn more about computer science and web development, but I am also seeking overall self-improvement. The ethics and professionalism in computer science are important to me so I can improve my critical thinking and ethical decision-making skills.”

The Boeing Graduate Scholars program provides scholarships, including up to full tuition and fees, to support students in Virginia Tech’s Master of Engineering programs who are traditionally underrepresented in technology. The scholarship program is part of Boeing’s $50 million, multiyear commitment to the Innovation Campus to help jump-start Virginia Tech’s effort to create the most diverse graduate technology campus in the United States.

See more information about graduate scholarships

Litscher’s current concentration in the M.Eng program is web and mobile development, complementing her full-time position as a web developer. Litscher works for Case Consulting, a software services company based in Leesburg, Virginia, that supports the federal government and private industry. She started at Case as an intern in May 2020 while still completing her bachelor’s degree at James Madison University.

Litscher has been able to advance at Case, from part-time to full-time web developer, and now takes on the role of supervising new interns as they join the project team. Her current project team at Case is a group of seven. Litscher’s career aspirations include taking on additional leadership responsibilities in a position that combines web development and team management.

The master’s program is already helping her learn additional best practices that can be applied to her work environment, Litscher said. And she is able to use her web development skills in some creative, project-based assignments.

  • In her first semester, she took a user interface course and built a website where users can create an account and then compile and share recipes. The site’s community members view the recipes, comment on them, and ask questions of the authors.
  • She took a special studies class on project management that included a number of outside speakers, as well as an overview of the AGILE Project Management Process. “It was a great opportunity to work in groups, and work together through different parts of the AGILE process,” Litscher said. “We use AGILE at work too, so this was especially helpful.”

Litscher will graduate with a Master in Engineering degree in computer science in May 2023.

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