This Q&A is part of a series with the 2021 cohort of the Hopkins Engineering Alumni Spotlight Recognition Program.
Aaron K. Baughman is a distinguished engineer (technical executive) and 3x master inventor within IBM Interactive Experience, leading AI on hybrid cloud. He has worked with ESPN, US Open Tennis, Wimbledon, Roland Garros, Australian Open, the Masters Tournament, USGA, GRAMMYS, Tony Awards, Fox Sports, Watson Jeopardy!, Blizzard’s Overwatch and classified US government agencies. He holds 236 U.S. patents and is the 239th most prolific inventor in the world. He has won the IBM Research AI Accomplishment Award, IBM Corporate Award (twice), 3 awards.ai awards, Yahoo! Sports award, AAAS Invention Ambassadorship, Franz Edelman Award, AI Breakthrough Award, IBM North Carolina Inventor of the Year (twice), Johns Hopkins Alumni Spotlight Program, and many other accolades. He has participated in three celebrity IBM and ESPN Fantasy Football leagues with Eli Manning, Baron Davis, Michael Greenburg, Justin Tuck, and others. Baughman has published a Springer book on biometrics along with academic papers, articles, and blogs. He earned his BS in Computer Science from Georgia Tech, his MS in Computer Science from Johns Hopkins, and two organizational creativity certificates from the Disney Institute.
What does your Hopkins education mean to you? How did it help you in your career?
Throughout my Hopkins education, I really appreciated the freedom of crafting my own program within the Department of Computer of Science through Engineering for Professionals. I combined biomedical courses such as Physiology 1 and 2 along with independent study at the NIH and a visit to the University of Florida’s McKnight Brain Institute. I learned the relationship between the natural sciences and artificial intelligence (AI). This was a pivotal experience that shaped my career in computing for years to come. My Hopkins education taught me how to seek understanding between fields to further applications within computing. I also want to highlight that this kind of thinking has helped me to bridge the importance of business to technology.
What is one piece of advice you have for current Whiting School students and/or other WSE alumni?
Ground yourself in your passion and continually nurture your long-term goals. Business demands, life events, or even curiosity can cause disruptions to what you want to achieve in the future. However, this creates opportunity. As you accumulate more experience, your long-term goals will change a few times within your career. Ensure that your tactical-based awards, efforts, time, and energy continually pivot you towards your goals. This pattern will drive you towards a fulfilling and impactful career! Have fun and always learn something new—sooner than later you will have an invention.
What is your favorite memory from your time at Johns Hopkins, either inside or outside of the classroom?
My favorite memory of my time at Johns Hopkins was graduation. I felt a new surge of energy to do something great within my career. Graduation was a time when my family joined me in Baltimore to watch me walk down the stage to get my graduate degree. I remember that the weather was questionable. We were unsure if the outdoor ceremony was going to proceed. Even so, we all ventured to the graduation field. As it turned out, the ceremony was perfect. Afterwards, we enjoyed dinner at the Inner Harbor, a highlight in Baltimore. At that moment, I realized how much effort I put into my academics, both at JHU and IBM. I worked full-time at IBM while I pursued my degree. That effort was rewarded with a blistering sense of purpose.
Hopkins Engineering Alumni Spotlight Recognition Program
The Spotlight Recognition Program is an annual program that helps identify WSE alumni doing impactful and innovative work in their chosen fields and celebrates their accomplishments and connects them back with the institution and greater engineering community.