Superior supervisor

EERC programmer named UND, State and Midwest Student Employee Supervisor of the Year

Saurabh Chimote

EERC programmer Saurabh Chimote was recently recognized as the UND, state and regional Student Employee Supervisor of the Year. Photo courtesy of EERC.

Being named student employee supervisor of the year came was a complete surprise to Saurabh Chimote.

“He was blindsided. He had no idea,” said Sara Lahr, software developer at the Energy and Environmental Research Center. “Everyone at EERC was called to the main hall to watch him receive the award. He was shocked.”

Chimote, who had no idea he was even nominated for the award, was even more surprised to find that he’d won the award in three categories: UND, the State of North Dakota, and the 14-state region.

The awards are given by the Midwest Association of Student Employment Administrators, and the regional award is the highest that is given.

The students and co-workers who nominated Chimote weren’t surprised at all.

Leading by example

“Saurabh is a fantastic supervisor who leads by example,” said Aaron Johnson, a computer science senior from Fargo who has worked for Chimote over the last year. “He’s always there if we have questions, and he’s a great leader. He’s as dedicated to work as he is to his family. He’s just all-around fantastic.”

“Saurabh is a great supervisor,” said Blake Masterson, a computer science sophomore from Grand Forks who has worked at the EERC since January. “I can come to him whenever I have a problem. He’s very approachable. He’s calm in addressing problems, and works through them with you. He offers suggestions and keeps helping until the problem is fixed.”

“This award is really an affirmation of something that we already know here at the EERC,” said Andy Palmiscino, principal software engineer. “Saurabh’s commitment to the students’ future is second to none.  He will work with each of the students to help understand their goals and to help them achieve those goals.  He works hard to help make the students as marketable as possible when they graduate.”

Christian Hansen, Saurabh Chimote and Aaron Johnson

UND students Christian Hansen (left) and Aaron Johnson flank their supervisor and mentor, Chimote Saurabh, during a surprise reception to recognize Saurabh for winning the UND, state and regional Student Employee Supervisor of the Year Award. Photo courtesy of EERC.

Passion for programming

Chimote joined UND in 2010 after working at the University of Cincinnati, where he had graduate assistants. He was attracted to the job description at EERC, and found it a wonderful opportunity: “I could work with different technologies, and work with brilliant minds and scientists. I also liked the appeal of a small city to raise my family. And a short commute was a plus.”

The Software Solutions Group, for which Chimote is a senior software development engineer, builds software applications for the EERC, UND and outside clients, such as the Montana Department of Health. The group began hiring students at Chimote’s urging. He felt there was more than enough work, and that students would benefit from the experience.

“I wanted to hire students for several reasons,”Chimote said. “We wanted to train students to enter the real world and jump into the workforce. They can build their resume, have the experience of taking part in a meeting, see how an office works, and have them work at all stages of software development, from client meetings to testing. That makes them more marketable.”

Software solutions

The Software Solutions Group, which has four full-time staff, now employs two to five students throughout the year.

They work on a contract basis, and having part-time students fill in the gaps can be very helpful. “This helps us get the work done and is a way of giving back and giving students opportunities.”

The EERC’s Software Solutions Group offers web design and applications, customized desktop and geographic information system applications, and secure software development to internal and external clients.

The group is currently working on several internal UND projects as well as external projects such as pipeline study software, medical software in partnership with State of Montana, integrated management system software, and various projects for Plains CO2 Reduction Partnership and the Bakken Optimization Program.

“We build software,” said Chimote. And the students are fully integrated into the projects.

“This is a very immersive job – it puts you into the real-life work routine,” said Johnson. “That’s the great thing about it. You can’t get this experience in a lecture. This has been a great opportunity to get a foot in the door, make connections, and meet people in the field. It’s kick-starting my career.”

“The way Saurabh interacts with students is exceptional,” said Harry Duchscherer, server/database administrator for the group, who helped nominate Chimote for the award. “He’s instructional without talking down to the students. His personality is very personable and calm. Saurabh has broad knowledge in the computer science field – and depth, with a vast background in computer science and business, plus world knowledge. He sees problems from a different perspective, and that’s enlightening. He’s fun to work with and has a great sense of humor and quick intellect. We’re very lucky to have him.”