Computer Science (BS) alumnus Steve Kitchens has been a member of Amazon Lab126 for more than four years, and was one of the original members of the team who designed and shipped Amazon’s Fire smart phone.
Comprised of some of the brightest minds in Silicon Valley, the team had fewer than a dozen members when Kitchens was hired, he recalls, but it has grown to over 350 members and it built one of the most complex mobile phones ever shipped.
Currently, Kitchens serves as a senior manager of systems of electrical engineering for Kindle, Fire Tablets and Fire phone.
After graduating from Appalachian State University in 2003, Kitchens moved to New York for an internship with BASF, a corporation focused on sustainability that works with chemicals, plastics, performance products, crop protection products, oil and gas. Then, he pursued the Master of Science in Electrical Engineering program at N.C. State University.
Kitchen’s first job after completing his master’s program was as a hardware design engineer at Sony Ericsson in Research Triangle Park in the Raleigh-Durham area.
“My degree from Appalachian has been the foundation of my professional career, and even 12 years after graduation I fall back on my programming background,” Kitchens said.
He said he learned not only from the Department of Computer Science but also the community and the beautiful surrounding areas, which helped him build a curiosity for how much there is to discover.
“Boone is a quaint town, but within the Appalachian community you will find personalities and cultures of all sorts which sparked my curiosity to go and see for myself what the world can offer,” Kitchens said.
In fact, Kitchens responded to interview questions on a flight from Hong Kong to San Francisco after spending a week in China managing the production of the next Kindle e-reader.