Kat Hetzel-Budd

Kat Hetzel-Budd is an experienced Software Engineer who has worked with many different technologies and many different companies. She has designed and built a wide range of software, from full-stack AngularJS web applications, to serverless AWS applications, to text transformation models that set the standard for the way that Alexa processes multi-script languages.

Software Engineer

Helping to build the next generation of software...


...and helping to build the next generation of software engineers, too!


University of Pittsburgh, Class of 2017

Bachelors of Science - Computer Science

Certificate - Russian and Eastern European Studies

Kat graduated with honors from the University of Pittsburgh as part of the winter class of 2017. While in University, Kat was involved with the University of Pittsburgh Computer Science and Women in Computer Science clubs. She participated in hackathons and was an active member of the Pitt Computer Science community. She also involved with the Pitt Center for Russian and European Studies department, and completed a study abroad in the Czech Republic and Poland where she researched the lasting effects of the USSR's influence in central Europe.

Work Experience

Software Development Engineer II

AmazonSmile, Accounting Systems · October 2019 - Present

Working as a member of AmazonSmile's accounting engineering team, which processes all monetary donations generated on smile.amazon.com and distributes the donations to charities. Currently helping to rebuild AmazonSmile's accounting systems onto a serverless architecture.

  • Helped build a Java-based job scheduling workflow that manages all accounting jobs. Implemented some of the individual accounting jobs, using AWS StepFunctions and Glue jobs in Scala.

  • Currently working on designing serverless versions of existing legacy services. Helping to redesign charity data information service using new RESTful APIs. Helping redesign an existing external notification service from a traditional service to a serverless architecture, saving the team hardware costs and reducing team operational overhead.

  • Gave talks on operational best practices within the team - did a deep dive on amazon's internal CI/CD system and proposed new best practices for our existing CI systems. As a result of this work, heading a project to move half of the team's existing CI/CD pipelines to fully automated testing and deployment by end of year.

  • Performed a major refactor a legacy service to allow for internationalization

  • Involved with the hiring process in Amazon - currently shadowing interviews and helping to teach SDE bootcamps for new Amazon engineers.

Software Development Engineer I

Amazon Alexa - Text Processing and Tokenization · February 2018 - October 2019

Worked as a member of the Alexa Speech international text transformation and tokenization team. Specifically, was the team subject matter expert on the creation, development, and testing of finite state transducers, particularly for Hindi, Alexa's first bilingual, multi-script text transformation model.

  • Developed a finite state transducer (FST) based model that standardized how the Hindi language was represented within Alexa. This tool was instrumental in ensuring that all internal Alexa data for Hindi was transformed to a standardized representation for both Hindi and English text. The design for this particular model is now used as the base design for any multi-script, multi-language text transformation model within Alexa.

  • Defined best practices and development techniques for an obscure technology stack (Thrax, a language for writing FST grammars). Gave regular tech talks and wrote most of the team's onboarding and best practices documentation.

  • Using Python and Thrax, custom built a set of testing and dashboarding tools for evaluating the performance of FST-based models, including a way to develop unit and integration tests. Created an automated process for pushing internal releases of the FST-based models.

  • Mentored a graduate student SDE intern by providing technical guidance, design doc and code reviews, and weekly one-on-ones. During the internship, the intern expanded the team's model-running Java service and C++ engine to be able to handle a new type of text transformation model for formatting punctuation on Echo screens.

Software Development Engineering Intern

Amazon Go/Books · May 2017 - August 2017

Designed, researched, and implemented a Notifications application that facilitates communication between Amazon corporate and store managers Stored the notifications with DynamoDB (AWS) and implemented a service using Java and XML that is able to get, create, retrieve all notifications by store, edit, and delete notifications from the database. Created a full UI for the application using AngularJS, implementing a dashboard with multiple views, such as a view of all notifications intended for a certain store, a detailed view of a notification, and the abilities to create, delete, and edit notifications. Implemented two different user roles, a creator and a user.

Utilized AngularJS to create a 'Store Manager Dashboard' - a consolidation of information necessary to the Amazon Go and Books stores. Integrated information from several other dashboards into one clean, master dashboard that shows a snapshot of several vital store functions including notifications and details relating to in-store operations. Fully unit tested the dashboard using Jasmine, an AngularJS testing framework

Software Development Engineering Intern

BNY Mellon · June 2016 - August 2016

Worked as member of the Intelligent Business Form development team in an agile application development environment. Created a real-time XML validator for use in an internal API, using both a custom XML parser and Java’s XML validation library. Designed a preemptive server monitoring structure and functionality from start to finish using Dynatrace. Created a type-ahead feature using XML and JavaScript for BNY Mellon's Intelligent Business Form application.

Advisor/Tutor - Python Specialist

Codecademy · March 2016 - October 2016

Tutored nearly 200 Codecademy Pro learners and debugged code in a variety of programming langagues, emphasizing the important of syntax styling and the intelligent structuring of data.

Primarily taught and tutored Python, but also frequently assisted with Java, Ruby, JavaScript, HTML/CSS, Git, and Bash (Linux) command line scripts.


Both in her career and out, Kat has always made a point to give back to those around her - she loves to mentor university students and younger engineers as they enter the workforce and begin their career.

University of Pittsburgh · Honors College Mentor

Kat currently acts as a mentor for University of Pittsburgh honors college students. She takes reviews resumes, offers career advice, and video calls with honors college students to answer both career and university questions.

Amazon · SDE Bootcamp Instructor

Kat helps teach the SDE Bootcamp classes, which help onboard new Software Development Engineers to life and work at Amazon.

Amazon · SDE Intern Mentor

In 2019, Kat acted as a technical mentor for a graduate student Software Development Engineering Intern at Amazon. With her help and technical guidance, the intern was able to create a new way for Alexa's text transformation systems to process punctuation and capitalization formatting on screens.

Pitt Computer Science Club · Internship Q&A Panelist

After successfully completing internships with both BNY Mellon and Amazon, Kat was asked by the University of Pittsburgh's Computer Science Club to be on a panel of students with Big Tech internships, where she gave an overview and answered student questions about her resume writing and interviewing process that she used to land two prestigious internships.

She Innovates Hackathon · Technical Mentor

The winner of the previous year's She Innovates Hackathon, Kat acted as a technical mentor for the participants of the 2017 She Innovates hackathon. She gave design suggestions, helped debug code, and explained certain technological concepts to the hackathon participants.

Awards and Scholarships

She Innovates Hackathon 2016 First Place

Susan Hicks Memorial Scholarship - First Ever Recipient

Center for Russian and Eastern European Studies - Departmental Scholarship

Semi-Finalist - Randall Family Big Idea Competition

Want to connect with Kat?

Feel free to reach out via LinkedIn, Github, or Email.

Outside of work, you can usually find Kat cooking up a new and complicated dish, learning a new language (currently, French and Japanese), or travelling someplace fun with her husband, Jon, and Labradoodle pup, Appa.