Spotlight on John Tuttle

On his way to a career in psychology, undergraduate John Tuttle took a detour into the world of computer science. That detour led him to realize that computer science is where he wants to be. After graduating from UMass Amherst in May, Tuttle will join the Department’s Baystate Scholars program this fall to pursue a Master’s degree in computer science.

 “Given the fact that my interest in computers started when I was barely old enough to hold a Nintendo controller, I really should have known from the start that computer science was my true calling,” says Tuttle. However, early in his undergraduate career, psychology was his first love. He had completed a Psychology major with departmental honors and was half-way through writing a thesis on examining the effect of facial distinctiveness on facial recognition when he started taking introductory computer science classes for fun. He quickly became hooked.

 “In the first semester of my senior year, I made the difficult decision to delay my graduation for however long it would take to complete the computer science major,” says Tuttle. “Two and a half years later, on the verge of graduating with a B.S. in computer science and a B.A. in psychology, I consider sticking around to be one of the best choices I have made in my academic career.” Tuttle adds that his involvement with computer science has allowed him to get in touch with his true passions. Tuttle exclaims, “It has really put me on the path to getting what I want out of life, while allowing me to meet some great people along the way!”

Several semesters ago, Tuttle discovered the Department’s Information Assurance concentration and has since become extremely interested in the areas of security and digital forensics. Although he was unable to fit undergraduate research into his double major compacted curriculum, he looks forward to returning to UMass Amherst in the fall as a graduate student in order to pursue research in security. “Although my time in the CS major so far has been brief, I never could have imagined I would learn so much in such a short period of time.”

Since last summer, Tuttle has worked for Golden Goose Games, a company in Northampton that produces software for larger companies such as Hasbro, doing contract work making web-based Flash games. He is using this same skill set this semester to combine his work interests with his education. He is currently working with Assistant Professor Mark Corner to design a set of user-interface tutorials for Corner’s Usability class. In this project, he is writing step-by-step lessons that gradually introduce students with little programming experience to the features of Adobe Flex in order to show them how to create basic user interfaces. Tuttle is also embarking on a project with Associate Professor Brian Levine to create a piece of Flash software for the UMass Fine Arts Center.

As for other interests, Tuttle enjoys bicycling when the weather allows it, and he likes to break out his guitar every now and then. “I love martial arts, and I’m currently a green-belt, blue-stripe in Tae Kwon Do,” adds Tuttle.  He is also an avid video gamer who enjoys both playing and creating games.

Although he has abandoned psychology as a career path, he still possesses a strong interest in human behavior and enjoys reading about topics like body language and evolution. On the weekends, he will usually end up in the five-college area relaxing with friends or exploring a new restaurant with his girlfriend. “Amazingly enough, I have been here six years and there is still always something to do,” adds Tuttle.