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UBC Reports | Vol. 46 | No. 18 | November 16, 2000

Cellist tunes in to high technology

Musician turns interest in computers into new career

by Andy Poon staff writer

Ron Rabin has spent the better part of his life playing and studying music, but nowadays the 36-year-old is more in tune with computers than his cello. Rabin will become the first graduate of the Alternate Routes to Computing (ARC) program at UBC this month.

He is one of more than 2,600 UBC students graduating during Fall Congregation Nov. 23 and 24. Degrees will be awarded in eight ceremonies at the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts.

The ARC program -- developed with Simon Fraser University and industry partners -- teaches computer science to top university graduates with little or no computer experience. Students alternate sessions of academic courses and paid work terms. More than 30 students are currently enrolled in the 24-month program.

Rabin, a former college music professor, enrolled in the program's inaugural class in the fall of 1998. He now works with IBM's Pacific Development Centre in Burnaby building an Internet-based educational portal.

"I am really pleased with the way that everything has turned out," says Rabin.

Rabin was eight years old when he started playing the cello. He picked up the instrument after his orchestra teacher noticed him plucking a cello on a shelf during orchestra selection. From that moment on he had aspirations of becoming a professional cellist as he played in youth orchestras and concerts growing up in his native Long Island, N.Y.

But it was during his undergraduate music degree at Stanford University that he realized a performing career might not be in his future.

"I realized that I just didn't have the dedication to practice four hours a day and it wasn't my whole life," says Rabin.

He enjoyed writing essays and studying music history so he decided to pursue a teaching career.

Rabin went on to do his master's degree at Yale University and completed his doctorate in music history at Cornell University. After graduation, he secured a one-year stint filling in for a music professor at the University of Michigan.

"I didn't like the idea of having to look for a job every year," says Rabin, who describes the competition for music teaching positions at U.S. universities as "totally crazy."

Though he still enjoyed music, he decided it was prudent to look for a career in a field in which jobs were plentiful. In 1996, the Internet was gaining public awareness.

"It was obviously an industry that was growing and would continue to grow," he says.

And Rabin had always been interested in computers. At Michigan, he had witnessed how useful the Internet was for posting on-line music listening assignments for his students.

"So I thought it would be neat to get involved with computers and information technology because it was a broad enough field with many different niches for me to find something that I was suited for," he says.

UBC's ARC program suited Rabin's needs perfectly. It was a university-level program that emphasized a co-op term with a shorter duration than the typical three years necessary for an additional bachelor's degree in Computer Science.

With his diploma in Computer Science this month and his career off to a solid start with IBM, Rabin has definitely hit a high note.

more information

Visit the Web site at www.arc.cs.ubc.ca.

more congregation stories


Last reviewed 22-Sep-2006

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