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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Ray Tomlinson
Ray Tomlinson

Have you ever considered that someone, at some point, was in a position to choose what symbol would be used separate the user from their location in an email address? That person, it turns out, was Ray Tomlinson, and in 1971 he chose "@". Tomlinson is credited with demonstrating the first email sent between computers on a network, and when asked what inspired him to make this selection he said, “Mostly because it seemed like a neat idea.”

After completing his Master’s degree at MIT in 1965, Ray joined the Information Sciences Division of Bolt Beranek and Newman Inc. of Cambridge, Massachusetts. Since then he has made many notable contributions to the world of network computing. He was a co-developer of the TENEX computer system that was popular in the earliest days of the Internet; he developed the packet radio protocols used in the earliest internetworking experiments; he created the first implementation of TCP; and he was the principle designer of the first workstation attached to the Internet.

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.

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).

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.

Bletchley Park
Dr. Sue Black
Dr. Sue Black

Dr. Sue Black has demonstrated the power of social networking. She used Web 2.0 technologies to help raise awareness of, and critical funding for, Bletchley Park, the UK World War II center for decrypting enemy messages. She has also been an active campaigner for equality and support for women in technology fields, founding a number of online networking platforms for women technology professionals. A keen researcher, Dr. Black completed a PhD in software measurement in 2001. Her research interests focus on software quality improvements. She has recently won the PepsiCo Women's Inspiration Network award, been named Tech Hero by ITPRO magazine and was awarded the first John Ivinson Award from the British Computer Society. In 2011 Dr. Black set up The goto Foundation, a nonprofit organization which aims to make computer science more meaningful to the public, generate public excitement in the creation of software, and build a tech savvy workforce. Read Sue's blog about The goto Foundation: http://gotofdn.org

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