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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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.

Liz Gerber - Image credit Lisa Beth Anderson
Liz Gerber
Liz Gerber - Image credit Lisa Beth Anderson

Liz Gerber earned her MS and PhD in Product Design and Management Science and Engineering at Stanford. She specializes in design and human-computer interaction, particularly how social computing supports the innovation process. Her current research investigates crowd-funding as a mechanism for reducing disparities in entrepreneurship.
Gerber's work funded by the US National Science Foundation and the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance has appeared in peer-reviewed journals, including Transactions on Computer Human Interactions, Design Studies, and Organization Science.
As an award-winning teacher and researcher, Liz has touched the lives of more than 6,000 students through her teaching at Northwestern's Segal Design Institute and Stanford University's Hasso Plattner's Institute of Design and through her paradigm-shifting creation, Design for America, a national network of students using design to tackle social challenges.

Image credit - Lisa Beth Anderson

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).

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.

Image credits