Career Profiles

Explore profiles of real professionals and students to learn how they got started, what they love about computing, and all about the fascinating work they do.
warford profile

Steve Warford

Media Network Specialist, Scottsdale, United States

Degree(s):

PhD Electrical Engineering (Digital Systems) - Arizona State University, 1974
MS Electrical Engineering (Digital Systems) - Arizona State University, 1968
BS Electrical Engineering - University of Kentucky, 1966
“If you want a long, rewarding career in computing, consider the basis of your interest in computing – early, not later, in your educational process. Then, invest yourself in studies, people, and opportunities that make the most of your interest and talents.”

I have always been fascinated with how things work. As a kid, I took all of my older sister’s toys apart to discover their inner workings – of course, I never put them back together. My father and mother were both inquisitive and hands-on, so I grew up thinking everybody was like that and it became second nature to me. And, it did not hurt that I grew up during the Cold War and the Space Race – both of which produced great strides in computing and engineering. For me, the launching of Sputnik 1 by the USSR sealed the deal – I would become an engineer. Read more...

That would have to be the Shuttle Training Aircraft (STA) project. Fresh out of my PhD program, I joined the Shuttle Training Aircraft team at Sperry Flight systems. They had partnered with Grumman Aerospace Corporation to deliver an airborne trainer for teaching prospective Space Shuttle pilots how to control the actual Shuttle during the critical phases of an unpowered landing at the end of each mission. Each Shuttle Commander would make between 800 and 1000 landings at phantom runways, defined safely above terra firma, before getting the “keys” to the Shuttle. Read more...

Although I tend to live life as if everything is a “system” with inputs, outputs, and lots of processes in between, I also enjoy a wide range of activities that bring me satisfaction and stimulation beyond that – especially outdoor activities. Over the years, I have dabbled in gardening, tennis, woodworking, photography, minimalist art, stained glass, astronomy, and amateur radio. At 68, I still snow ski and ride my bicycle to work. Read more...

Warford in the cockpit

Warford at the Arizona Science Center

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King's Quest
Roberta Williams

Video games immerse users in a world of high tech thrills, stunning visuals, unique challenges, and interactivity. They enable users to become a warrior princess or a gruesome ghoul, create a virtual persona, or even develop worlds that other gamers can play on. But before the games of today became reality, they were the dreams of a few innovative individuals.

Roberta Williams is considered one of the pioneers of gaming as we know it today. During the 80’s and 90’s along with husband Ken Williams through their company On-Line Systems, she developed some of the first graphical adventure games. These included such titles as Mystery House, Wizard and the Princess and the popular King’s Quest series. Williams also helped introduce more girls and women to the world of gaming by bringing games developed from a woman’s perspective to mainstream market.

First computer mouse
Douglas Engelbart
Douglas Engelbart

In 1967, Douglas Engelbart applied for a patent for an "X-Y position indicator for a display system," which he and his team developed at the Stanford Research Institute (SRI) in Menlo Park, California. The device, a small, wooden box with two metal wheels, was nicknamed a "mouse" because a cable trailing out of the one end resembled a tail.

In addition to the first computer mouse, Engelbart’s team developed computer interface concepts that led to the GUI interface, and were integral to the development of ARPANET--the precursor to today’s Internet. Engelbart received his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Oregon State University in 1948, followed by an MS in 1953 and a Ph.D. in 1955 both from the University of California, Berkeley.

Turing machine
Alan Mathison Turing
Alan Mathison Turing

Did you know that computing has been used in military espionage and has even influenced the outcome of major wars? Alan Mathison Turing designed the code breaking machine that enabled the deciphering of German communications during WWII. As per the words of Winston Churchill, this would remain the single largest contribution to victory. In addition, he laid the groundwork for visionary fields such as automatic computing engines, artificial intelligence and morphogenesis. Despite his influential work in the field of computing, Turing experienced extreme prejudice during his lifetime regarding his sexual orientation. There is no doubt that computers are ubiquitously part of our lives due to the infusion of Turing’s contributions.

Punch card from a COBOL program
Jean Sammet

Jean E. Sammet was one of the first developers and researchers in programming languages. During the 1950’s - 1960’s she supervised the first scientific programming group for Sperry Gyroscope Co. and served as a key member of the original COBOL (COmmon Business-Oriented Language) committee at Sylvania Electric Products. She also taught one of the first graduate programming courses in the country at Adelphi College. After joining IBM in 1961, she developed and directed the first FORMAC (FORmula MAnipulation Compiler). This was the first widely used general language and system for manipulating nonnumeric algebraic expressions. In 1979 she began handling Ada activities for IBM’s Federal Systems Division. Ada is a structured, object-oriented high-level computer programming language, designed for large, long-lived applications, where reliability and efficiency are paramount. Jean has a B.A. from Mount Holyoke College and an M.A. from the University of Illinois, both in Mathematics. She received an honorary D.Sc. from Mount Holyoke (1978).

MATLAB graph
Cleve Moler

Cleve Moler improved the quality and accessibility of mathematical software and created a highly respected software system called MATLAB. He was a professor of mathematics and computer science for almost 20 years at the University of Michigan, Stanford University, and the University of New Mexico. In the late 1970’s to early 1980’s he developed several mathematical software packages to support computational science and engineering. These packages eventually formed the basis of MATLAB, a programming environment for algorithm development, data analysis, visualization, and numerical computation. MATLAB can be used to solve technical computing problems faster than with traditional programming languages, such as C, C++, and Fortran. Today, Professor Moler spends his time writing books, articles, and MATLAB programs.

Listen to what Professor Moler has to say about his life’s work: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IT5umwNSAxE

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