Graduate student spotlight: Robbie Ritchie

COVID-19 has been a thorn in the side of everyone for the past year. But the pandemic didn’t stop Robbie Ritchie, a graduate student in the College of Engineering and Computing. 

Before continuing his education at Miami for a master’s degree in computer science, Ritchie graduated from here with a bachelor’s degree in math. Now, as a graduate student, Ritchie has four papers under his belt, a feat not usually achieved in just under two years. 

Even more impressive is the fact that two of those papers are published in some of the most highly-regarded journals in the computer science world: One was published as a poster in the Data Compression Conference in 2020 and the other was published in Quantum Information and Computation.

Still though, Ritchie remains humble. Robbie Ritchie smiling into the camera with a plain background

“It’s kinda surreal because it feels like I don’t deserve it,” Ritchie said. “Because it’s like ‘Oh, well it feels like what I did isn’t that big,’ but I guess once it all comes together, and I present it to them, if they think it’s worth publishing then it must be. So it’s really exciting.” 

Dr. Khodakhast Bibak, assistant professor in the computer science and software engineering department and master’s advisor to Ritchie, said he’s been nothing but impressed by Ritchie’s work. 

“If I could, I’d be more than happy to give him a PhD right now,” Bibak said. 

Ritchie has been Bibak’s teaching assistant (TA) since the beginning of his graduate career, and he said teaching and helping people has been a rewarding experience. He only has one complaint: grading can be a bore. 

Both Ritchie and Bibak said their match as graduate student and advisor could not be more perfect. 

For Ritchie, he said it’s nice to work with a professor who focuses more on the theoretical side of computer science. For Bibak, he said it’s great to work with a student who is not only interested in the subject matter, but who also has the necessary mathematical background to work on the dense research. 

Bibak hopes in the future he gets more students like Ritchie. 

“I wish I could have strong students like him as my second student, my third student, my fourth student...,” Bibak said. “If that’s the case, then I’ll probably be the luckiest person to work with such talented students.” 

After graduating this spring, Ritchie plans to work in the software engineering industry for a while, with a focus in security. While he takes this time to save money and get some experience, he said it’s also a time to mentally prepare — his long-term goal is to return to school to get his PhD in cryptography

The COVID-19 pandemic wasn’t able to stop Ritchie from performing to his full potential as a graduate student, and it looks like he won’t be letting the pandemic stop him from achieving his future goals. 

By Maggie Peña, CEC Reporter