Nearly 3,000 miles separate Bethlehem from Palo Alto, CA. For William Peracchio, ’21, an opportunity to stay busy on the West Coast is just as important to him as an opportunity to stay busy on the East Coast.
To do this, Peracchio attended the ninth Summer Tech Tour in Palo Alto this past summer.
The event was held by Piazza, an online educational technology platform.
Piazza is utilized by more than 50,000 professors in 2,000 schools in more than 90 different countries. It is used in many Lehigh classrooms, supporting students and professors in discussion and question forums.
Among the 10,000 applicants who applied to the Piazza Summer Tech Tour program, Peracchio was one of the 10 people chosen to interact with companies like Facebook, Quora, Pinterest and Airbnb on an all-expenses-paid trip.
“I was actually with a couple of Lehigh students at the Lehigh in Prague program when I found out,” said Peracchio. “It felt really good.”
Peracchio traveled to Palo Alto, in the technologically-savvy Silicon Valley.
He said each company he visited was different in terms of size, privacy and aesthetic.
For example, Airbnb’s headquarters was relatively small and had themed conference rooms.
On the other hand, Salesforce was much larger, but more secretive. Peracchio and the other applicants got to travel up to the top of the Salesforce tower, which is the highest tower west of Mississippi.
Peracchio said the Facebook headquarters seems as large, or even larger, than Lehigh’s campus. The headquarters includes numerous themed restaurants, a massage parlor, an arcade and an ice cream shop.
Back at Lehigh, Peracchio tries to stay as involved as possible, and said he doesn’t like to have a lot of free time.
Peracchio is the vice president of the Sigma Phi Delta engineering fraternity, a Gryphon for Sayre Park, the lead TRAC Fellow for Engineering 5, the president of the Computer Science & Business Association, and he works on a startup that connects people through shared meal experiences.
John Cunningham, ‘21, works alongside Perrachio as Sigma Phi Delta’s professional chair. He said he and Peracchio quickly became friends even before coming to Lehigh.
“If Google Calendar were to catch fire, that would not be good for Will,” Cunningham said. “But at the same time, he would be willing to drop everything and help anyone.”
Cunningham said people know Peracchio always has something to do.
He knows about most of the activities on-campus and off-campus, and he goes out of his way to seek people and information if he doesn’t know.
Along with pursuing opportunities for himself, he is willing to share programs or activities that might be a perfect fit for his friends.
Arielle Carr, a professor in the computer science and engineering departments, said Peracchio is engaged in the classroom and asks all of the right questions.
Since having class with her last fall, Peracchio has kept in close contact with Carr and continues to help her with the Women in Data Science conference.
“I really admire how much he wants to help, but doesn’t want to take the forefront because it is a Women in Data Science event,” Carr said. “That was all on his own accord.”
In the future, Peracchio plans to work in the area of business and technology.
He said it makes sense with his major, computer science and business, but also his minors in entrepreneurship, data science and certificate in Global Citizenship.
“Too often, if you get too hyper-focused on one thing, you can become dull in other aspects,” Peracchio said. “It’s a good way to be a jack of all trades, but also master something.”