Isabel Shiff


Potomac, MD

Academic Interests

Major/Certificate: Computer Science, Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Interests: Economics

Fun Fact

I took a gap year and studied in Croatia, UK and Spain.

It started with a very small car in a very big factory. While at Oxford Royale Academy, the entire class was invited for a visit to the Mini Cooper manufacturing center, Plant Oxford, in Cowley, UK. This was my first exposure to an environment in which technology dominated the organization and was essential to success and accuracy. There were hundreds of KUKA robots simultaneously performing all of the assembly operations in a perfect just in time, “Kanban” system of continuous manufacturing flow. The most interesting features included a moving production floor, and precision robotic delivery of parts to each assembly cell, demonstrating perfect harmony between humans and machines. It was a complete choreographed dance of technology. Coding was key.

The complexity of the programming and my ability to visually observe coding come to life for immediate practical use has spurned my fascination with technology. Whether or not I end up applying my studies to financial markets, manufacturing or medical markets, I unquestionably will have a career that is technology-based.

This fall, I will be attending the Grace Hopper Celebration in Houston, TX, where I will be going to numerous lectures and workshops across a broad spectrum of technology-related topics with leading industry experts. I also will be an undergraduate teaching assistant for Duke’s Computer Science department. In this role, I will assist and mentor students enrolled in Introduction to Computer Science (CS101), leading a weekly 75-minute recitation and holding office hours. Additionally, I am a shareholder at Campus Enterprises, Duke’s oldest and most successful student-run business. I will co-direct one of the divisions, Enterprise Entertainment, that specializes in event planning and logistics.

What do you like about being a SPIRE Fellow?

I like being part of a small community with other students who are also involved in STEM. It can be challenging to form connections with others in the introductory classes because of the large lecture sizes. SPIRE undoubtedly provides me with a support group and mentors that eased my transition to Duke. The frequent SPIRE dinners have definitely facilitated a sense of belonging throughout the group. Likewise, I have taken advantage of the optional lunches with faculty members in many STEM fields. These interactions have provided me with the “inside scoop” and guidance as to which courses to take in the future and which clubs to become involved in based on my interests.

Isabel Shiff.
Isabel Shiff