My story begins at the age of ten on the keyboard of a Commodore VIC 20 that my grandfather bought and later gave to me. Before the time of downloading games over the Internet and before even the Atari my fascination with these computing machines was born. Throughout my childhood myself and a small handful of friends continued to hack our way through what instructions we could find to learn how to become overlords of our computing devices. It was all for fun and even upon graduation from high school it was never really a consideration that this fun could eventually be a “job”.
However, I did know that my future was in computers but I thought it would be in designing & building the electronics. I can blame this fascination with electronics on my 9th grade science faire mentor, Charlie Jett, who helped me build my first electronics project – an analog wind vane & and anemometer. So, I followed this passion into college where I studied electrical engineering until my junior year. Personal computers were just becoming common at that time and there weren’t a wealth of programs available to help with some of the problems I was trying to solve. However, with my background in programming I knew the power that was there and that I could make what I needed. So, I picked up a copy of Microsoft Visual Basic (VB) 3.0 because I had no idea where to begin in creating programs with a Windows user interface (UI). My Commodore days were all in command-line BASIC programs… I was amazed. VB made programming UIs so easy!
I continued to hack out VB programs in my spare time while at college and one day after a series of life events, I came to realize that programming wasn’t just a hobby. It was what I was good at and what I should be doing. That light has been my beacon every since. I changed my major to computer science and before graduating I was already working fulltime as a consulting software developer and have been doing so for over 25 years now.
Coming Full Circle
Around 2009, I came to realize that if I was going to keep up my interests I was going to have to broaden my interests beyond just pixels on a screen and numbers on reports. It was time to start making more tangible things. Naturally, I fell back to my interest in electronics. This is when I discovered microcontrollers and the Microsoft .NET Micro Framework (NETMF). With the same simplicity that Visual Basic had created for creating programs with UIs, NETMF gave me the simplicity to create hardware projects using programming knowledge that I already had.
To challenge myself, I jumped in neck deep by entering a series of NETMF development competitions that Microsoft hosted. This forged a foundation that led to me being forced to self teach electronics and later robotics. Along the way, I evangelized .NET Gadgeteer, Arduino, and currently the Internet of Things (IoT). However, I was constantly forging ahead into areas where I was alone in local experience…
Insert a quote here about teaching to others…
A Time to Make
Tell about the coming of the maker movement and the creation of user groups…
Where do I want to be?