Luis Severien Marcilla
Nation of Origin
Information Science Education
M.S. in Information Systems, Goethe University
Advanced Study Program
• MIT Department of Electrical Engineering & Computer Science
• MIT Department of Mechanical Engineering
Gaining an edge at MIT
Luis Marcilla had a goal—and he knew exactly how to achieve it. A German master’s student studying information systems at Goethe University, Luis hoped to work in the quantitative research department of Quoniam Asset Management GmbH after graduation. The challenge? He wasn’t sure if his degree alone would be enough to land the job.
“I had been following the company and knew what they looked for in a candidate,” Luis said. “If I was going to be competitive, I needed more of a background in computer science, especially in the area of statistical learning, so I started looking at universities around the world with very strong computer science faculty.”
Through this process, Luis discovered the Advanced Study Program (ASP)—an MIT Professional Education offering that enables non-degree students to enroll at MIT on a full- or part-time basis.
“I considered analogous programs at other universities, but what really made the case for MIT and ASP was that I would have access to the full course catalog and could enroll in classes across departments,” Luis said. “I also appreciated that the ASP office was available to provide specialized support from day one.”
Through ASP, Luis enrolled full-time at MIT for two semesters, successfully completing five courses in machine learning and data science. “The faculty are world-class—you really get your money’s worth in those courses,” Luis said. “Many departments offered office hours until midnight or even later.”
But it was not just the faculty who made the experience memorable. Fellow program participants also provided valuable academic and social support. “We had an ASP study room, which more or less developed into a living room for many people in the program,” Luis said. “We’d spend the whole day studying there, take a break at a pub on campus, and then go back to studying. It wasn’t just about networking—I also built a lot of friendships in the program.”
Every step of the way, the ASP staff provided the resources and advice he needed to make the most of his MIT experience. “I found the overall environment at MIT, and specifically within the ASP program, to be very supportive,” Luis said. “The ASP staff helped me navigate a variety of challenges, from course selection to a personal health issue. I’m really thankful for their help.”
Following his return to Germany and the completion of his master’s degree, Luis was hired as a quantitative researcher at Quonium—the very position that inspired him to apply to MIT. Now happily ensconced in his new role, he highly recommends ASP to others who are looking to advance their professional careers by acquiring greater expertise in a specific technical area.
“Through ASP, you can create a customizable program of study in any area of the university. Whatever your background or goals, there’s something for you,” Luis said. “It was a great experience and I highly recommend it.”