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.

CGA palette
Mark Dean

If you have ever used a PC with a color display you have been acquainted with the work of Mark Dean. After achieving a Bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of Tennessee, Dean began his career at IBM. Dean served as the chief engineer on the team that developed the first IBM PC, for which he currently holds one third of the patents. With colleague Dennis Moeller, he developed the Industry Standard Architecture (ISA) systems bus, which enabled peripheral devices such as printers, keyboards, and modems to be directly connected to computers, making them both affordable and practical. He also developed the Color Graphics Adapter which allowed for color display on the PC. Most recently, Dean spearheaded the team that developed the one-gigahertz processor chip. Dean went on to obtain a MSEE from Florida Atlantic University and a Ph.D. in electrical engineering from Stanford University. He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, has been inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame, and is the first African-American IBM Fellow.

Gordon and SenseCam QUT
Gordon Bell
Gordon and SenseCam QUT

Gordon Bell is a pioneering computer designer with an influential career in industry, academia and government. He graduated from MIT with a degree in electrical engineering. From 1960, at Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC), he designed the first mini- and time-sharing computers and was responsible for DEC's VAX as Vice President of R&D, with a 6 year sabbatical at Carnegie Mellon University. In 1987, as NSF’s first, Ass't Director for Computing (CISE), he led the National Research Network panel that became the Internet. Bell maintains three interests: computing, lifelogging, and startup companies—advising over 100 companies. He is a Fellow of the, Association of Computing Machinery, Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers, and four academies. He received The 1991 National Medal of Technology. He is a founding trustee of the Computer History Museum, Mountain View, CA. and is an Researcher Emeritus at Microsoft. His 3 word descriptor: Computing my life; computing, my life.

RISC processor
John Hennessy
John Hennessy

Have you ever wondered how computers can execute complex commands in mere seconds? John Hennessy is a pioneer of reduced instruction set computing (RISC) architecture which employs small, highly-optimized sets of instructions to greatly enhance computer performance. He was instrumental in transferring the technology, specifically MIPS RISC architecture, to industry. He co-founded MIPS Technologies and co-authored the classic textbook with David A. Patterson, on Computer Architecture.

As Stanford faculty he rose to be the Chairman of the Computer Science Department, Dean of the School of Engineering, then Provost and finally the President of Stanford in 2000 (and till date). Hennessy holds a Master’s and Ph.D. in Computer Science from SUNY Stony Brook. He is an IEEE Fellow and was selected to receive the IEEE Medal of Honor in 2012. Hennessey also launched significant activities that helped to foster interdisciplinary research in the biosciences and bioengineering at Stanford.

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.

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