LSU Computer Science Student Antonio Dupre Mixes English, Robotics and Coding on His Path to a Tech Career

LSU student Antonio Dupre is taking an unusual route to a potential career in tech, combining his fascination with artificial intelligence, intellectual property law and computer programming in an effort to find his place in a rapidly changing marketplace of ideas.

The Baton Rouge native started out at LSU as a chemical engineering major, then switched to English before changing course again to computer science with a minor in robotics. He’s finishing up two seemingly contrasting undergraduate degrees as he sets his sights on law school with the aim of helping computer scientists and tech entrepreneurs navigate the complex world of patents.


AN EARLY START AND A CIRCUITOUS PATH


Dupre says he first encountered computer programming as a freshman at Baton Rouge High, where he started with the language Python via an elective. Later he learned C++ and Java, and gained an appreciation for logic-based thinking, he says.

“It seemed to me that learning a programming language was almost like learning a different language,” Dupre says. “I was really interested in it. It gave me a new lens to look at the world through.”

When it came time to choose a college major, however, Dupre’s love of chemistry won out over his interest in coding, and he entered LSU as a chemical engineering major. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the best fit. “I learned very quickly that chemical engineering isn’t all about chemistry,” he says.

After a year Dupre changed his major to English with a concentration in rhetoric, writing and culture, in hopes of honing his writing and communication skills in preparation for a possible jump to law school.

During that time he found himself spending time with friends who were interested in computer science. He also took an increased interest in the emerging field of artificial intelligence and its future implications on the way humans work.

“I started reading more and more about AI and how it was going to change the world in the next 20 years, and I wanted to be in a position where if I couldn’t create something, I could at least facilitate it,” he says. “I started thinking ‘In the face of such drastic change, what could I do to keep myself relevant?’ ”

His answer was computer science.


DOUBLE TRACK


Two years into his college career, Dupre decided to pursue computer science at LSU without abandoning his previous coursework. He’s now completing his English coursework and near the midpoint in his computer science studies, and plans to wrap up both degrees in the next two years. He’s also minoring in robotics, the result of his fascination with the emerging field and how it can be applied to supplement the human body.

“I think that assistive robotics and brain-machine interfaces are very cool,” he says. “I think the integration of technology in the human body is very interesting.”

In addition to his studies, Dupre has mentored a high-school robotics team at the Mathematics, Science, and Arts Academy-East in St. Gabriel through the Society of Peer Mentors, a student organization at LSU that focuses on mentoring and leadership for the College of Engineering.  The team went on to win its regional meet in the FIRST Robotics Competition.

“It was really inspiring to see the kids as young as they are make robots and go on to win regionals,” he says.


INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY


Dupre says he’s less interested in becoming a programmer than in developing a well-rounded understanding of computer science, AI and robotics that will help him more effectively navigate the complex world of intellectual property law — including the complicated process for filing patents.

Next year he plans to take the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office registration examination — commonly known as the Patent Bar — to be registered as a patent agent. Patent agents can legally work on and file applications for clients who are interested in acquiring a patent.

Once he graduates, Dupre says he plans to head directly to law school and continue his efforts to prepare for a career as a patent lawyer — one with the unique insight of a degreed computer scientist.

Dupre hopes his technology and patent knowledge will together serve as the foundation for a career helping foster and protect the technological innovations of tomorrow.