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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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.

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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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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.

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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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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.

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