About me…

About me…

BLUF: Over the last 20 years I have worked on video games, life-critical spacecraft avionics, advanced research programs, and state-tier cyberwarfare systems.

How I became a computer nerd…

I was fortunate to have a father who had an innate love of learning and knowledge, and because of this, I had access to technologies not common to most households – including computers and electronics. Whilst my father’s day-job was focused primarily on large mainframes (IBM System/360s, AS/400s, etc.), he spent a lot of his personal time experimenting with games and graphics programming. Having been exposed to his joy, I was drawn to computer programming, computer games and computer graphics, and soon began to follow game developers like John Carmack and computer graphics pioneers like Ivan Sutherland, Edwin Catmull and David Evans. Not only did I love playing computer games, I also had a strong desire to make them!

My first foray into coding started with BASIC (bla!) in the 80’s on the IIe, TI-99 and C64. I got my very own PC in the early 90’s, a second-hand Tandy 1000 with an 80286 CPU. Shortly thereafter, my dad plopped a heavy box containing Borland Turbo Pascal and Turbo C floppies and manuals on my desk, so I started learning and experimenting with Pascal and C.

As a sophomore in high school, a group of us “computer nerds” successfully petitioned our school to offer an AP Pascal course. At the time, computer science courses in high school were somewhat rare – particularly in rural areas like ours. But, our little group continued to grow, and our school responded with new hardware, a dedicated lab, and official course material. Our sweet new lab was all Mac SEs, so we ended up coding in Object Pascal, which was a way more pleasant experience than the Tandy and Turbo Pascal. The catch was, however, that our teacher didn’t quite grok OOP concepts. So, I had to transcend that paradigm on my own. That feeling you get when “it clicks” has spurred me to continue exploring topics in computer science and other fields of study. Like my father, I have always been a strong autodidact, and came to the early realization that learning should be a life-long endeavor. Always Be Learning!

Like many programmers out there, I spend a large chunk of my free time programming – twiddling away on personal projects to learn new skills, and experiment.

Before startups were “a thing…”

Through a shared love of games and bleeding-edge graphics programming, I became friends with some really talented game programmers and artists looking to build the next-generation game engine. And so, in early 2000, I moved to Los Angeles to start a company called VirtueArts.

In those early days, programmers were the overall dominate force in game development. Unfortunately, in many cases, they were also a major bottleneck in getting good-looking games out the door. It was very challenging for creative folks that lacked any coding skills to directly contribute to the design, look-and-feel, and game play. Solving this problem became our primary objective and led us to design and develop our next-generation game engine from the ground-up to include an intuitive, human-friendly authoring environment based on rapid-application development (RAD) and WYSIWYG concepts pioneered by products like Borland Delphi and Visual Basic. It allowed folks with very limited coding skills to collaborate and contribute more effectively than had ever been possible – and this was years before Unreal and Unity came on the scene.

We built some really cool tech that grabbed the attention of the “big” game developers and game hardware manufacturers. Unfortunately, being young and inexperienced, we made some poor decisions and passed on some critical opportunities that (I believe) could have made a difference in the survival of the company. Like I said, Always Be Learning – even if it’s the hard way.

Years before Musk, and Bezos did it…

Chances are, if you were a kid in the mid-80’s you probably recall the name “Voyager.” No, not the spacecraft – the weird-looking airplane with super-long wings that successfully completed the “first non-stop around-the-world flight without refueling.” No? Go look it up!

As a huge aerospace nerd and a pilot myself, I had been a Burt Rutan fan before the days of Voyager. Even as a young kid I was well aware of Burt’s forward-leaning aircraft designs like the VariEze, Quickie, Boomerang, and Starship. So, you can imagine my excitement when I got a job offer from Scaled! I was on my way to fulfill the “boyhood-dream” of working on a new Rutan aircraft.

Well… Not quite…

On the first day of the job I was pulled into a meeting room with Burt where he disclosed the full extent of what he had been planning for over a decade. He told me that I would be working with the test pilots and aeronautical engineers to create custom spacecraft avionics and flight simulation systems for WhiteKnightOne and SpaceShipOne!

The next couple years were a blur of very dull days, sleepless weekends, and a lot of days with insanely high highs. In a scarce few words, the experience working with Burt and the TierOne team was a major highlight of my life. It was an honor to be a part of Burt Rutan’s team, and to help win the Ansari X Prize competition. Pioneers like Burt spurred my love for aerospace and flight since I was kid – they were the catalyst for me to solo in a sailplane at the age of 14, and the reason why I am building my own airplane today!

Thinking outside the box…

Fortunately, the interesting projects didn’t stop coming…

I went on to work with DARPA and the DoD on exciting research projects focusing on topics like advanced simulation, cyber-warfare, and artificial intelligence. I have held the role of technical leader, researcher, and manager (Technical Director, Research Director and Principal Investigator). And my most recent work led to the development and successful transition of a cyber command and control (C2) platform deployed and used DoD-wide to protect our country against nation-state cyber threats.

Another realm of learning…

Presently, I’m involved in a venture that is a bit outside my comfort zone, but still a topic of great interest to me – neuroscience. I am now working with a group of world-class, super-smart people at Optios, creating bleeding-edge “neuro-feedback” applications that enhance and optimize the original “software” – the brain.

Please go to my Portfolio page to learn more.