Engineering Facebook

Aditya Agarwal and Ruchi Sangvhi

It was a small start-up — just a year old — hiring new computer engineers.

Aditya Agarwal (CS'03,'04) and Ruchi Sanghvi (E'04) were recent Carnegie Mellon graduates — not simply looking for work, but looking to be a part of something.

When they walked into the Facebook offices, they found it.

"I was an avid Facebook user, so I knew the impact it was having in the college market," said Sanghvi, who was the first female engineer at Facebook. "Working on a product that I used every day and was passionate about clinched the deal for me."

Joining a staff of only 15 to 20 people, Sanghvi was instrumental in implementing key feature — including the News Feed. She then led product management and strategy for Facebook Platform and Facebook Connect.

"I felt I contributed to some of the largest innovations on the internet in the last couple of years," she said. "We've allowed people to connect with one another, increased transparency and made the web more social."

Women in India have used Facebook to fight for equal rights, says Sanghvi. And a Colombian engineer organized a massive protest against the Revolutionary Armed Forces using Facebook.

"Facebook offered people a new, more efficient communication channel," she said.

Agarwal, who is also Sanghvi's husband, believes the company has been so successful because it hasn't wavered from its values.

"One value is to move fast. We teach that to our new employees very early," said Agarwal. "Once you are here at Facebook, you are critical person on the team. You can expect to be handed tough challenges right from the start. You can't be afraid to fail."

Agarwal says the diverse student body at CMU prepared him for working in Silicon Valley, which he considers a melting pot. He, too, is passionate about the impact Facebook is having on the world and its special place in history.

"We often talk about how there are very few places you can work on a change that will affect 500 million people. It is an amazing feeling to have an impact on that many people."

"If you want to try something, don't be afraid to go out and fail," Agarwal said, echoing a philosophy shared by both Facebook and Carnegie Mellon. "Follow your heart and take a risk."


Related Links: FastCompany.com | CMU on Facebook | College of Engineering | School of Computer Science