College of Engineering News Room
Tenex Software Establishes the Matthew Moreno Scholarship to Honor his Memory
When USF computer science alum Matt Moreno ’14 passed away in January, his co-workers at Tenex Software Solutions in Tampa decided to create a scholarship to honor their friend and colleague so that his legacy can live on through future students.
Ravi and Alka Kallem, founders of Tenex Software Solutions, Inc., established the Matthew James Moreno Memorial Scholarship with an initial pledge of $100,000. The scholarship will support full-time students studying computer engineering, computer science, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, or information technology in the College of Engineering at USF.
Ashley Raja, Muma College of Business alum and Tenex's marketing director, started at the company on the same day as Moreno in 2014. They both applied for opportunities at Tenex through the USF Employ-A-Bull program that connected companies with students for internships as well as professional careers.
“Everyone that met Matt is a better person for having met him,” Raja said. “I feel lucky to have spent so much time with him.”
Moreno began his career as a software development intern at Tenex, a software company specializing in the design and development of products for local election offices, currently supporting 45 million registered voters in 19 different states in the United States. Chances are good that if you used an iPad-based electronic poll book when you voted, you were using a product Moreno developed.
He was instrumental in the design and development of every product currently at Tenex. Even as a developer just starting out of college, he designed the iPad-based electronic poll book solution, Precinct Central. It’s gone on to be used in some of the largest jurisdictions in the country, including San Diego, California and Austin, Texas and has supported over 30 million voter check-in transactions. Moreno reveled in getting to make products that support one of the cornerstones of U.S. democracy — the right to vote and make our voices heard.
Throughout his tenure, Moreno rapidly advanced to become a senior developer and a team lead. He was respected by his team members for his generosity in sharing his time and knowledge. Even as the company grew to a 40+ person team, he still managed to leave an impression on almost every development team member by mentoring them on their work and improving their skills.
“Matt used his extremely bright mind and incredible spirit to make all of us around him at Tenex better and was always excited about a challenge or a new opportunity,” Raja said.
Ravi Kallem set up a phone interview with Moreno the day he applied for a position at Tenex. Their conversation went over things like prime number spiraling and data structures. As he puts it, that conversation was all he needed to offer Moreno the job on the spot, along with his impressive GPA.
Moreno was one of the first five employees (of the 40+ current employees, most are USF alums) when Tenex was founded. He started as an intern for a few years, transitioning to full-time employment upon graduating. After his passing, the founders of the company approached the Moreno family about creating a scholarship in his memory.
Computers were in Moreno’s blood growing up, according to sisters Kaitlin and Amie. He loved video games, movies, football and playing chess. He was very creative, developed many video games and was especially interested in virtual reality. The siblings were homeschooled, which gave them a unique opportunity to support each other’s interests as they grew up.
“Matt taught me how to code,” Kaitlin said. “He paid for me to attend a coding boot camp.”
Kaitlin plays the violin and was a music major in college. She’s now a software engineer working in Washington, D.C. because of Matt’s mentoring and guidance. In his memory, Kaitlin is trying to complete some of his video games that were still in development.
Amie found her passion for graphic design through Matt while creating their financial gaming app, Tri-Jump, to submit to the GTE Financial “Got Games” competition in December 2015.
“We worked together on an app inspired by The Legend of Zelda and submitted it to the competition and took the first prize of $10,000,” she said. You can view the YouTube video they recorded after their win.
“He really wanted to help everyone by sharing his knowledge,” Kaitlin said. “He was the go-to person. He wanted you to understand the entire problem, not just answer a question.”
Raja described Moreno in much the same way.
“He was very patient,” she said.
Moreno chose USF because of the strength of the computer science program. He received two generous scholarships — the Directors Scholarship and the Honors College Scholarship.
“There was never a question by anyone at Tenex that we all wanted to do something to honor Matt,” Raja said. “Matt was an instrumental part of our company and of our lives. The work he has done here is unmatched, and without Matt, Tenex would not be what or where it is today. Honoring Matt with a scholarship at USF is only a small token of the gratitude that we share from having the privilege to know and work with Matt and a way for us to hopefully share the impact he had on our lives with others.”
Recently, the staff at Tenex created the Matt Moreno Memorial Garden. Moreno was very inspired by nature, and the garden will serve as a living tribute to him.
Raja said he would be proud to know that Tenex is supporting his alma mater and other students who share his passion for solving complex problems through the power of technology.
Donations to the Matthew James Moreno Memorial Scholarship can be made online. To learn more about this scholarship or supporting USF Engineering, please contact Madeline (Maddy) Richard, Assistant Director of Development at 630-550-0874 or by email.