Kenny Song: A Running Hacker

Apr 21 2017
Written by NYU Shanghai

Concluding four years of study at NYU Shanghai, Kenny Song ‘17, a marathon runner and outdoors junkie, has landed a hard-won career opportunity at Google in California as Associate Product Manager.

Since high school, the New Jerseyan had been attracted to the beauty of logical thinking in Computer Science, and undoubtedly chose it as his major at NYU Shanghai, with Mathematics as a second major.

Determined to step into the professional realm, Song began applying to summer internships as early as the end of his sophomore year. With the guidance and instruction of Professor Keith Ross, he successfully captured an offer in software development at Google in New York.

In his junior year, Kenny’s connections with Google brought him to California, where he worked for three months as an Associate Product Manager Intern at X, Google's famed corporate research lab. He was on the Project Loon team, responsible for delivering internet access to rural and remote areas worldwide by way of high altitude LTE-equipped balloons.

Song described the project as something “amazingly cool that only Google would be crazy enough to take on.” The hands-on experience of working with fascinating and imaginative technologies strengthened his determination to explore the IT industry after graduation.

Merging his passions for technology and campus activities, Kenny was among the first to introduce the “hackathon” concept to NYU Shanghai and served as the first director of HackShanghai in 2014. The 24-hour programming and design competition had teams working throughout the night to create innovative technological solutions for everyday life problems.

“HackShanghai was amazing for both participants and organizers. All the teams were very energized and motivated to build technically creative projects. It was an immensely successful result for the all-student organizing team, who spent 6 months engineering the event, cold-calling sponsors, and recruiting applicants from all across Asia,” Song said. He also admitted that their organizing committee has helped many other students start hackathons at their universities since then.

Kenny’s remarkable knack for leadership is hardly a surprise. He was elected inaugural president of NYU Shanghai’s student government for his freshman year, and chaperoned the establishment of connections to student government counterparts in NYU New York and NYU Abu Dhabi. 

During three semesters of studying away in Abu Dhabi, Song collaborated with four fellow students to create RoadWatch, a winning app that aimed to reduce road accidents in the UAE. Competing in the 2016 mGov competition sponsored by the UAE government, Song and his team were awarded a prize of over $272,000 for their invention.

“One important skill I refined and exercised at NYU Shanghai is to set concrete plans for achieving my goals, and to absolutely follow them to completion,” he said.

It is with this mentality that Song tackles his passion for both technology and outdoor sports. The avid runner did the Shanghai half marathon as a freshman, reached the top of Africa’s highest mountain Mount Kilimanjaro, and has every intention of one day completing an Ironman triathlon.