(Sorry bots, you'll have to work for it!)
Despite the complexity of modern tech stacks, I strive to be able to create and intelligently discuss every part of a website or application.
I'm not afraid to try something outlandish or question anything.
I read A LOT (tech or otherwise) to keep my skills up-to-date and explore new ideas.
My love of technology was fostered by a mid '90s AT&T computer with a 60 MHz processor, Windows 3.1, and a bunch of fun games like Red Baron and Typing Tutor. One of my favorite tech memories is when my dad told me our computer was getting a second hard drive with A WHOLE GIGABYTE OF STORAGE! Another is how thrilled I was to borrow and watch a promotional video for Windows 95. One of my least favorite memories is when I asked what games an old IBM computer I inhereted could run. They laughed and said I should just use it as an anchor. Maybe that was why my parents bought the AT&T.
Speaking of video games, it's probably no surprise that I loved them from an early age. I was a huge SEGA Genesis / Sonic the Hedgehog fan. I used to beg my neighbor to let me play his Genesis until I found one under the Christmas tree. In fact, I taught myself what hexadecimal numbers were using the sound test screen in Sonic the Hedgehog 2. I can't see myself having such an interest in technology without either the SEGA Genesis or AT&T Computer entering my life.
In high school, I didn't take any programming classes primarily because, get this, they wouldn't inflate my GPA compared to other options. (I guess no one told me high school GPA doesn't matter after...high school.) Instead, I focused on math and science and decided Meteorology was a good marriage of those fields. Luckily, I began to undo my detour by taking a Computer Science 101 course in the spring of my freshman year at the University of Miami. From there, I started plotting how to fit a Computer Science major into my degree.
I should have been smart enough then to recognize where my heart was, but instead I pursued a PhD in Atmospheric Science at Rutgers University. I was drawn in by climate modeling. How cool is it that by writing code you can get statistics on current and future climate? In particular, I have fond memories of creating "idealized worlds" - essentially drawing my own continents - in a simple climate model and watching what happened.
I finished my degree and spent a year as a postdoctoral researcher cobbling together some scientific software to help with data analysis. In the process, I realized I loved building the software but just didn't have much of a passion for doing scientific data analysis anymore. I also surprised myself and married another PhD student, which made the prospect of constantly moving between the somewhat limited locations of employment in my field as often as each year even more unappealing. These factors led me to finally "flip the switch" and become a web developer, and I often wonder why I didn't do that sooner. (I did meet my wife and her cat because of graduate school, so that alone made it worth it!)
Don't be afraid to pursue what you love, and it's never too late to switch.
1) Wait, you have a PhD? Why are you doing web development?
Yes, I have a PhD, but I get more enjoyment and fulfillment out of building websites. I may write an article about my experience at some point in the future. In the meantime, check out my bio for more explanation.
2) But don't you want to be a professor?
Maybe at some point I did. But a lot of people I've talked to are unaware that a PhD doesn't guarantee you a job as a professor. Here's a simple example that might illuminate why:
Let's say a professor mentors about 10 new PhD students (in 30-ish years) before retiring. Even if the number of academic positions doubled or so with each generation, 80% of those PhD graduates have to find something else to do. The other 20% have to really want it and I admire the commitment and sacrifice they make. But that life turned out not to be for me.
Some of it came down to personal choice. I wanted a career with less travel that would allow my family to choose where to settle down. Like many others, I'm also fortunate enough to have numerous interests.
3) Bitter much about #1 and #2?
No, I just have strong feelings about academia and the stigma around leaving it. I know people who are too afraid to leave and pursue a new career primarily because they don't want to disappoint advisors, family, etc. That's not healthy for anyone.
4) You've been a web developer since 2016; why have none of your job titles had "web" in their names?
Your guess is as good as mine.
Frameworks: Laravel, Symfony, ExtJS, Bootstrap
Web: MySQL, HTML5, CSS, Apache, NGINX
Testing: PHPUnit, Laravel Dusk, Selenium
Maintenance: Git/GitHub, Jenkins, Bash scripting
OS: Linux (Ubuntu), Unix, MacOS
(Web) Application Programmer
Stowers Resource Management, Inc.
(Supporting Stowers Institute for Medical Research)
(2017 - Present)
(Web) Application Developer
(2016 - 2017)
Post Doctoral Associate
University of Miami
(2015 - 2016)
Graduate Research Assistant
(2011 - 2015)
University of Miami (2006-2010)
B.S. in Computer Science and Meteorology/Math (3.99)
Rutgers University (2010-2015)
M.S./Ph.D. in Atmospheric Science (3.94)
Try it out here!
You are a rectangular, colorful spelunker who can stretch and shrink on a whim! Pastel stalactites of varying heights will tease, taunt, and tempt you to remain as tall as you can for maximum points. Don't hit your head!