Most young people who encounter computer issues solve them in one of two ways: They either drop the glitchy machine in the hands of a savvy computer-repair technician or beg mom and dad to purchase a replacement.
College of Engineering Alumnus of the Year Piotr Tomasik chose a third option, one that was far more complicated but also more rewarding.
“I started working with computers at a very young age, and by the time I got to seventh grade, I was a computer lab administrator,” he says. “My passion for computer engineering really galvanized in the magical nature of being able to build software to solve my computer problems on my own.”
Tomasik’s interest in computer sciences blossomed in high school, so much so that when he chose to continue his education at UNLV, there was never a doubt about the major he would choose. Since earning his computer science bachelor's in 2009, Tomasik has built a successful career that has focused mostly on building startups.
In 2014, Tomasik co-founded Influential, a Las Vegas-based influencer technology platform and social intelligence firm that uses artificial intelligence to optimize creative work, grow audiences and track online and offline attribution. During his six years as Influential’s chief technology officer, Tomasik has helped his company forge partnerships with tech giants IBM Watson, Facebook and Oracle, as well as WME, the prominent talent and media agency formerly known as William Morris Endeavor Entertainment.
A self-proclaimed “serial entrepreneur,” Tomasik’s impressive rise in the computer sciences world hasn’t gone unnoticed. In 2018, he was named to Vegas INC’s annual “40 Under 40” list, and last year he was asked to return to his alma mater to serve on the College of Engineering’s Computer Science Advisory Board.
The coronavirus pandemic has reminded all of us about the power and importance of being resilient. Share a moment from your time at UNLV that helped build resiliency in you.
During my four years at UNLV, I was director of elections and technology for CSUN (Consolidated Students of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas). In that role, there were multiple instances where I had to exhibit tremendous resilience, but two stand out above all: Advocating on behalf of the student body for a more equitable share of tuition dollars disbursed between UNR and UNLV, and organizing and protesting against then-Gov. Jim Gibbons’ proposed higher education budget cuts in the face of the Great Recession.
It was an uphill battle in both cases, but the principles were worth fighting for.
What advice do you have for today’s UNLV engineering students as they try to navigate our changed world?
Challenge yourself by setting some bold career and personal goals, and have the self-confidence that you can achieve them. Also, don’t subscribe to the notion that you must leave Las Vegas to enjoy a prosperous and rewarding career. No matter the profession, Las Vegas needs the great minds UNLV is cultivating to stay here and advance our community.