INSIDE BINGHAMTON UNIVERSITY
Undergraduate completes three degrees
By : Max Lakin
The average undergraduate takes four years to complete a single bachelor’s degree, typically walking away with a little more than a hundred credits to his name.
For Jason Lisnak, one year over par has translated into three degrees, and a little over twice the mean number of credit hours neatly stowed under his belt.
Lisnak is a student in the Watston School of Engineering and Applied Science — and in the Harpur College of Arts and Sciences — and is wrapping up degree programs in both schools.
Initially a computer engineering major, Lisnak’s extended foray into Binghamton’s course catalog is something he describes as serendipitous.
“I was taking these courses anyway,” Lisnak said. “[The majors] just happened to work out.”
Lisnak’s circumvention of many required courses for Watson freshmen didn’t hurt, either.
“Every course they scheduled me for I placed out of,” he said. That, combined with a course online here, a course over break there, and “at least three overload semesters,” put him on track for the three degrees (computer engineering, computer science and math) he’ll see printed on his diploma.
Spend a few minutes with Lisnak and his course of study seems fitting, and almost makes his pursuit of this trifecta look effortless.
In more than a few respects, Lisnak breathes computers. He has interned in information technology departments, done tours as a resident consultant, or “rescon” — a roving, student computer help desk — and has been a TA for Computer Science 105, having never first stepped foot in 101.
Lisnak sums up his dedication to math relatively succinctly.
“It was my grandfather’s dream for me to be a math professor,” he said. “And I’ve always been good at it.”
The Congers, N.Y., resident plans to take off next semester, but hopes to return to Binghamton to study signal analysis with Mark Fowler, with whom he has been a teacher’s assistant for three semesters.
“He’s definitely energetic,” said Fowler, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering.
“Energetic” might not cover it. Lisnak spent a year as a Watson peer adviser and organizes and conducts large engineering review sessions.
“I put in a lot more hours,” he said. “You get to help people, which I always like.”
Lisnak also tutors material from 18 courses — anything from introductory math and early engineering to business statistics; he’s a self-described “geek.”
“I like it better than nerd,” he said.
On many nights, Lisnak sits in a dimly lit bar on Washington Street, catering to his peers in a different capacity at Cafe Oasis. He works about three nights a week as a manager, and is often there on the others.
“He’s quite proactive,” Fowler said. “He does the things that need to be done.”
Lisnak isn’t showing signs of slowing down. He took 24 credits this semester of what he describes as “actual coursework.” He is a TA for — and is completing a one-credit independent study in — CS 101.
“It’s what an engineering major is all about,” Lisnak said.