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University of Washington computer science student Karan Goel. (Photo: Ashley Stewart)

Karan Goel is a University of Washington computer science student who designs, builds, and ships software with the goal of making the world a better place. He’s an undergrad who has interned on Google’s Street View team and at Lenskart, developing analytics dashboards for business intelligence.

But he’s also making his mark on campus — starting the university’s first developer club, UW Hackers, with the goal of exposing students to modern technology that is otherwise left out of the classroom. He also co-founded and led the first and biggest student hackathon in the Pacific Northwest, DubHacks.

Meet our new Geek of the Week, and continue reading for his answers to our questionnaire.

Karan Goel
Karan Goel

What do you do, and why do you do it? I have been programming and making my software open source for the last 520+ days (and counting). I believe that the best kind of learning happens out in the open — it’s a process where continuous scrutiny transforms into feedback that helps you improve.

What’s the single most important thing people should know about your field? As competitive as Computer Science might seem from the outside, it’s actually surprisingly fun. The process of finding the field (within CS) that you enjoy requires effort, but it’s insightful and fruitful.

Where do you find your inspiration? My inspiration comes from learning new things. I believe in Dr. Maxwell Maltz’s theory that forming a new habit takes at least 21 days. For anything new that I set out to learn, I just push myself to go for 21 days — one day at a time — without worrying about immediate results, and then evaluate my expectations with the results to decide whether or not to continue.

What’s the one piece of technology you couldn’t live without, and why? My 2013 13″ Retina Macbook. It has everything I have and everything I do. School, work, non-work work. It would be virtually impossible for me to live without my computer (although I’d like to take a no-electronics vacation sometime soon).

What’s your workspace like, and why does it work for you? It’s minimal. A black cheap desk, with a mid-range comfortable chair. A couple books on the desk (“What If” by Randall Munroe, and “The Innovators” by Walter Isaacson, currently), a few pens and my computer.


Your best tip or trick for managing everyday work and life. (Help us out, we need it.) This is what I have recently started doing – I used to wake up at around 7am until a few months ago, but now I wake up at 6 in the morning. Yes, for college students, this is the “holy-shit-it’s-too-early” time, but for me, it’s the time when I am most productive. I have found that waking up early, washing up, and then working on personal projects gives me the most productive hour of the day.

The main point here, however, is to be consistent — sure, if you pulled an all-nighter then you deserve to sleep, otherwise, keep your sleeping schedule consistent throughout the week (that includes weekends).

I highly recommend that you try this for yourself and find your perfect time (mine is 6am).

Mac, Windows or Linux? Mac. Always.

Kirk, Picard, or Janeway? Picard.

Transporter, Time Machine or Cloak of Invisibility? Time Machine please.

If someone gave me $1 million to launch a startup, I would … Start 10 “lean” startups thereby increasing my chances of a good ROI by 10x. Or 100 low-investment startups. Basically, not putting all eggs in one basket.

I once waited in line for … 2 hours at Universal Studio to ride on a rollercoaster only to realize it was closed for construction. For what it’s worth, I wasn’t the only one in the line.

Your role models: Elon Musk. I have read most profiles on him, and watched almost all of his interviews. I can’t say I relate to him, but I definitely look up to him – to maybe be like him in my life and challenge what others think is impossible. (I once sent him an email – knowing he won’t ever read it – letting him know he’s my role model).

Greatest Game in History: Avalon.

Best Gadget Ever: My Google Nexus 4.

First Computer: HP Compaq Desktop.

Karan Goel at DubHacks. (Ashley Stewart photo)

Current Phone: Nexus 4. It’s 2.5 years old, but still pristine and I’m just not ready to move on.

Favorite App: Right now, I’ve started meditating and this app is a must have for every person out there. 5 minutes on meditation each day, and I feel like a different person.

Most important technology of 2014: Not sure if most important, but I was blown away by 3d printed DNA.

Most important technology of 2016: Continuous health diagnostic wearable that doesn’t get in my way.

Final words of advice for your fellow geeks: I think the most important things, as a human, are to be happy and to be always learning. Do what you love, and what makes you happy. Then find something else that interests you. Repeat.


Twitter: @karangoel

LinkedIn: Karan Goel

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