At a Glance

Year: ’23
Major: Computer Science

Computer Science BS

As a computer science major, you will be prepared to identify those problems that are best solved by means of a computer and to design and implement effective, economical and creative solutions.

As a computer science alum, Owen Hunter ’23 chose a nontraditional career.

Instead of spending his days in front of a computer screen, Hunter is busy cultivating mushrooms as the production manager for Fat Moon Mushrooms in Westford, Massachusetts.

“Being outside and working with my hands, getting dirty, there’s something about it,” he says.

Hunter sees a lot of correlations between agriculture and computer science.

“Thinking critically and logically is as important to computer science as it is to farming,” says Hunter, who transferred to UMass Lowell from Bridgewater State University as a sophomore because of UML’s strong computer science program.

When Hunter encounters a problem on the farm, he often turns to the problem-solving skills he learned in his software engineering courses. He also does a lot of data processing for the farm, using inventory management software.

“When our yields are down, I’m going back to our data and creating a model to see what were the conditions that led to those yields,” he says.

With a minor in mathematics, Hunter sees his math skills come into play at Fat Moon when working with a fresh air exchange system, which ensures a positive growing environment for the mushrooms.

Hunter’s love for farming began at an early age. His grandparents lived on a homestead in Wilton, New Hampshire, where they grew their own produce and raised chickens. Hunter often spent his summers at the homestead, where his grandfather introduced him to growing shiitake mushrooms on a log and foraging for wild mushrooms in the forest.

“I grew up highly immersed in nature,” he says.

When it came time for college, Hunter decided to pursue his other interest – computer science.

“I really liked computers from a young age, because they have that sandbox environment where you can build and create things,” he says.

While at UMass Lowell, Hunter got a job working for a local telecommunications company, but realized being in an office wasn’t for him.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Hunter decided to take some time off from college. He took a job at Small Farm in his hometown of Stow, Massachusetts, where he had worked in high school. Seeing his interest in mushrooms, his employers at Small Farm introduced him to Fat Moon Mushrooms, where he ended up getting a full-time job.

“I found my way back (to farming) after all those years,” he says.

Hunter returned to UMass Lowell to finish his bachelor’s degree, and says he’s “super-glad” he got it in computer science as this “opens more doors.” He is now considering going to graduate school and becoming a high school mathematics teacher in addition to his farm work.

Hunter hopes his journey can serve as inspiration to other students trying to figure out what they want to do with their major, as the traditional route is not for everyone.

“Think outside the box and be creative with how you can use your degree,” he says.

Advice for students

Owen Hunter.

“Think outside the box and be creative with how you can use your degree.”