My academic and professional backgrounds have always influenced each other. I began my professional career at sixteen as a technical support consultant for America Online (AOL). My success in this role led to two excellent project management internships with AOL, one in Arizona and one at AOL Corporate Headquarters in Virginia. I enjoyed these internships so much that I began my collegiate journey convinced that I wanted to be a project manager working on software development projects. As the dot-com bubble burst I took an undergraduate internship with Sandia National Laboratories assisting with processes in their Computer Support Unit.
As an intern at Sandia opportunities kept arising for small programming tasks which refocused my university coursework on programming. As I took more programming classes, I began to look for opportunities at Sandia that would help enhance and develop my programming skills. When I started my master’s degree, I started a new Sandia internship developing small application components of a corporate application used to store information about computers, networks, and computer accounts. After earning my master’s degree from the Anderson Schools at the University of New Mexico I accepted a position as a member of Technical Staff at Sandia National Laboratories.
Once hired as a permanent member of staff my responsibilities rapidly increased from the design and implementation of small application components to large corporate application architecture, design and implementation. It was during the development of one such large application that I became acutely aware that my knowledge of software development could be improved. This realization led me on a journey of self-teaching, which while adequate in some ways, left me with the desire to learn much more regarding the intricacies of software engineering and led to my enrollment at Carnegie Mellon to earn a Master’s of Science in Software Engineering.
Sandia allowed me to apply the knowledge acquired at Carnegie Mellon by reshaping the way my team develops software. Over the course of a year I reshaped our haphazard development processes into the practices of Extreme Programming. During the first year utilizing this new methodology the team designed, developed and released four enterprise scale projects.
Professional success influenced by practical academics has shaped my outlook on software development. I have never stopped learning and am always interested in refining my development processes. For me it is not just the programming, all aspects of software development excite me.