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.
Victor Skowronski

Victor Skowronski

System Engineer, Lincoln, United States

Degree(s):

PhD, Computer Engineering - Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
ME – Stevens Institute of Technology
BE - Stevens Institute of Technology
“I often found that I did not recognize the usefulness of a subject until after I had completed a course in it. Even after having worked in a particular discipline, I still found that taking a course was helpful in filling in those areas that my experience did not cover.”

I wrote my first computer programs using FORTRAN and punched cards. I really did not get interested in the field, however, until the microprocessor was developed. This helped me to decide to join a special systems group where I was working.

I liked to call this group the Beyond Help Office. A help office provides assistance with existing software. The group that I was in worked with clients who needed something that could not be found in the standard software. We worked with these clients to identify what they needed, procured what we could, and developed the rest ourselves.

After working in this group for quite a few years, I decided to get my PhD. I did research in Computer Aided Design where our assignment was to help industry work smarter rather than harder.

My post PhD work was in modeling and simulation, where I had the opportunity to help develop systems that would help train our war-fighters. I was also able to use my knowledge and experience to help develop standards.

I currently work as a technical adviser to the US Air Force. What my day might involve is varied. It may involve listening to presentations or reviewing proposals and identifying possible problems with what is being recommended. I might research questions on the web or other data sources. I also talk with others to make sure that we coordinate our work and do not duplicate effort. After work, I also use my computer skills in several volunteer activities. I have developed several computer scripts to help me process data for my various activities.

My PhD is in Computer Engineering. It allows me to use my knowledge and skills to solve real problems. Solving these problems has a definite impact on my clients.

I developed an interactive front end for the US Navy that eliminated the need for punched cards and paper reports in the issuing and reading of radiation dosimetry for shipyard workers. The program reduced the time needed for these functions while increasing the accuracy of the system.

I am involved in the folk dance community, particularly English country dancing. I help run a dance series. I also write English country dances.

Videos of my dances can be found at

http://dancevideos.childgrove.org/ecd/ecd-modern/158-companions and

http://dancevideos.childgrove.org/ecd/ecd-modern/147-rafes-waltz

I have found that many skills that I learned writing computer programs are also relevant to dance choreography.

I also sing in my church choir and assist in the local chapter of the Catholic Alumni Club. Finally, I am a bicyclist, sometimes commuting on my bicycle.

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Router
Sandra Lerner

It is difficult to imagine a time when computers were not capable of sharing information and resources with great ease. Sandra Lerner pushed the boundaries of network computing as one of the co-founders of Cisco Systems, which introduced one of the first commercially viable routers. The router was born while Sandra was working at Stanford University in the 1980’s after earning her Master’s degree there in Computer Science. To avoid the tedious task of transferring information between computers using floppy disks, she and co-founder of Cisco, Leonard Bosack, created a local area network, or LAN, between their campus offices using a multiprotocol router that Bosack developed. Shortly thereafter the pair started Cisco Systems, and began selling the router which was a success, because it could work with so many different types of computers. After Leaving Cisco in 1990, Lerner started the trendy cosmetics company Urban Decay and became a philanthropist and avid activist for animal rights.

Cursor
James Dammann

If you have used a word processor today, moved your mouse on your laptop, dragged an object around on your smartphone, or highlighted a section of text on your tablet, you can thank Jim Dammann. In 1961 during his second year at IBM and just one year after completing his PhD, Jim created the concept of what today we all take for granted -- the cursor. This idea he documented in utilizing the cursor within word processing operations.

After retiring from IBM, Jim went on to inspire future generations of software engineers at Florida Atlantic University. His work there too demonstrated his creativity for he spent considerable effort enhancing their software engineering program by integrating ideas and feedback from local industries into the University curricular. Today, Jim lives in the Westlake Hills west of Austin Texas and spends most of his time in his art studio. He wrote and published The Opaque Decanter, a collection of poems about art, which provided a new view at part of art history.

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.

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.

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.

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