Rumen Hristov graduated with a bachelor’s and master’s degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He is currently focused on his startup, Emerald Innovations, where he is Director of Software Engineering. Within his framework he worked with prof. Dina Katabi from MIT, where she builds an IoT system for a wireless sensor device. The team has already built more than 30 devices in people’s homes, and Rumen is responsible for the entire software system.

Over the years, Rumen has been part of the national team of Bulgaria in informatics. He is seventh in the Hall of Fame of the IOI (International Olympiad in Informatics) – an outstanding achievement for the country. Rumen is a long-time participant in the international programming competition CodeIT, in 2012 he is a winner, and in the 2020/2021 season he gives a special lecture as an IT guru at the final of the competition.

Rumen Hristov was also elected in Forbes 30 Under 30 in the United States for his work on remote health monitoring.

Rumen tells DevStyleR more about the challenges he faces in the vast technological world. He also reveals what are the qualities needed for success not only in competitions and Olympiads, but also in life. He also shares with us his enjoyable experiences in one of the oldest competitions in the world – CodeIT and what it feels like to be part of the Forbes 30 under 30 in the US. You will read all this and many more interesting topics in our interview.

You are 7th in the Hall of Fame of the International Olympiad in Informatics (IOI). What are the qualities that make up a successful IT competitor?

Competitions in Informatics were an extremely important part for me and opened many doors in my life. Thanks to them, I was able to meet different people, learn new things, visit many countries, and they were the main reason I was accepted into MIT.

Although in the last 7-8 years I have not participated in any competitions, I can still distinguish many of the qualities I have learned from them. They made me a better programmer, taught me to think creatively and quickly. The Olympiads in Informatics developed my competitive spirit and taught me to motivate myself to always look for improvement in me.

In 2012 you are the winner at CodeIT, and in 2020/2021 you are again part of the competition, this time as an IT guru. Tell us about your experiences as a competitor and then as a guru.

Being an IT guru was an amazing experience. I was always happy when I had the opportunity to go back and be able to help the competitors, because I too had received a lot of help when I was on the other side of things.

The President of Bulgaria attended the award ceremony, as in most years and this fact always distinguishes CodeIT.

What is your message to CodeIT competitors?

Continue to look for every challenge and participate in as many competitions as possible, especially in school years. Then, unfortunately the race time decreases, so you should take advantage as much as possible when it’s time for that.

You complete your bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Together with prof. Dina Katabi you’re working on building an IoT system for a wireless sensor device. What inspired you to start working on such a project?

My goal was to work on an innovative project that is practical to become a community product. Professor Katabi’s group is working on wireless technologies and when I first appeared in the lab, it was in the initial steps on the project that became our company: Emerald Innovations.

The road was very difficult, and we had to solve many technical problems, as well as find the right business plan. After a few years at the university, we made sure that there was a business interest in what we do and for 3-4 years we have been working fully on our company.

You are part of the Forbes 30 under 30 list in the US for your work on remote health monitoring. How does it feel to prove yourself and be recognized in one of the most developed technological countries and what is the formula of success?

The formula of success is always focused on difficult problems. I knew that Professor Katabi’s group was one of those who worked the most hours at MIT and often spent late nights in the laboratory. This is what motivated me to work on this project and subsequently had its advantages and brought several awards.

What advice would you give to those who are just entering the tech world?

The technological world is a special field. Things change often, and people must adapt quickly. Success is often associated with spending many hours in front of a screen, so it is advisable to combine it with frequent hours without screens.

More from CodeIT:
Dusko Obradovic: A united IT Community in the Balkans – a Mission for Life
The CodeIT 2024 Team for the Competition and the Journey into the World of Programming

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