Intellectual Property Attorney Discovers Passion for Software at UCSC Extension


- Rafael Baca, Software Engineering & Quality Alumnus

Term : April, 2016
Department : Engineering
Program : Software Engineering & Quality

Rafael “Rafa” Baca is a registered US patent attorney with an engineering background. He works with intellectual property law clients in Silicon Valley and throughout the southwest. He enrolled in UCSC Extension’s Software Engineering and Quality certificate program in an effort to update his understanding of software and better communicate with his clients of business and tech professionals.

What do you do?

I legally facilitate the business of tech innovation. To remain truly relevant to your tech inventor clients, you must constantly reinvent yourself by always learning and continuing your formal education. UCSC Silicon Valley Extension offers the best, most cost-effective and working professional-oriented means for doing just that. I would highly recommend the program to anybody with an interest in tech here in Silicon Valley and throughout the world, through UCSC Extension’s online offerings.

For the past 10 years I have legally represented clients in software, hardware, IT and telecom networks, as well as electrical and electromechanical systems. Nearly every day, I informally learn about new, different, and impactful technology from my inventors. Getting a formal education as an online and in-class student at UCSC Extension has not only provided me with a greater understanding of these growing fields, but also sparked a deeper perspective on the tech sector and the globally unique entrepreneurial environment of Silicon Valley.

What classes stood out to you?

My two favorite classes offered are the online version of “Object-Oriented Analysis and Design (OOAD)” and the in-class version of "Computational Intelligence, Introduction”.  OOAD provided a formal understanding of Unified Modeling Language (UML) and helped me use this powerful tool in my law practice. UML provides a focal point between architectural design and coding for a project that is understandable and participatory for both non-technical and technical professionals. For my class project, I used my code to support a tech startup that recently presented at South by Southwest (SXSW) Interactive in Austin, Texas. 

I really enjoyed my “Computational Intelligence” class, taught by a pioneer in the field. I now have an informed interest and appreciation every time I see a driverless car go by in Mountain View.

These two UCSC Extension classes are examples of courses taught by experts in the industry in Silicon Valley. Nowhere else on Earth would you get this opportunity to learn from often the best in industry; they passionately educate on what they know best.

How have you applied new skills to your work?

Just as UCSC Extension increased my technical understanding of software, interestingly it has made me a better intellectual property lawyer. It has further honed my ability to act as an intermediary between the tech divide of developers and engineers and their business customers, sales and marketing managers. I found that the skills I learned as a tech intermediary are nearly identical to those required of an agile project owner, whose role it is to continuously ensure that the key business vision drives the development process.

What are you up to now?

After my receiving my certificate in spring 2016, I have enthusiastically continued my studies in software engineering with a nationally recognized online program. I would not have done it but for my positive experience with UCSC Silicon Valley Extension!

Visit our Software Engineering and Quality program page to learn more UCSC Extension’s unique offerings. Browse upcoming Software Engineering and Quality courses. Return to UCSC Extension Student Stories.
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