Rice is Small, Houston is Spacious

Three years ago, Simbarashe Dzinamarira (“call me Simba,” he grins) had not considered Houston as a future home. “I had never heard of Rice before I started applying to graduate schools, but a professor from my undergrad study at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology had friends here and recommended it to me,” he said.

As an international applicant, Simba did not have the opportunity to visit any of the 10 graduate schools he applied to in the U.S. He had to choose schools based on rankings and a brief look at faculty profiles. “Rice is small,” he explains, “and you don’t choose your advisor until you get here so I had to make sure there were faculty working on what I wanted to study.” In fact, Simba changed his area of study during his first semester at Rice, after he looked at the work all the professors were doing.

Rice’s size was one of the reasons he applied to the Computer Science Department. “A small department gives you a chance to work closely with your advisor. I meet with Eugene (Eugene Ng, Associate Professor in Computer Science and Electrical and Computer Engineering) at least twice a week. It’s the best thing about Rice – that small group feeling.”

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Simba shares an office with two other graduates students, including Ronnie Chatterjee, president of the Computer Science Graduate Student Club (CS GSA)

Houston itself was a happy surprise. “The pace of life is chilled and the area is very wide open,” he says. “If I had remained in Hong Kong, well, it was pretty cramped.” Rice itself is a relatively small campus on a fairly large plot of land, so the buildings are spread out with ample grass surrounding each one. There are more trees than students at Rice, and homes in the area – both individual houses and apartment complexes – also feel spacious inside and out.

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This view of the Rice University campus shows only a small part of Simba’s “small university,” surrounded by the big and spacious city.

Simba, who says “Rice was a perfect match for me,” was recently featured in an engineering article about Pfimbi (pronounced FIM-bee), his customized flow-controlled file system.

For more information on the largest academic department at Rice University, visit the Computer Science Department web site: http://cs.rice.edu.