One of my first engineering jobs was as co-operative engineering trainee at NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia. I was attending Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute at the time, and thanks to the great advice and assistance of the legendary Evelyn Harris, I started working for NASA when I was nineteen years old. My first assignment was to assist branch head Elwood Putnam identify wing planform shapes (and winglets) with low induced drag. I used a primitive Euler code running on a Gould Firebreather Super Mini Computer. I didn’t realize it at the time, but this experience would shape much of the next decade of my life. I learned as much about UNIX and high performance computing during that assignment as I could stand, though Elwood was probably hoping I would spend more of my time learning the basics of subsonic aerodynamics.
After that assignment, I found myself thinking about systems programming, and through the patient tutoring of Scott Dorsey in the Guidance and Controls Branch at Langley, I learned how to make my way in SunOS, Solaris, HP-UX, Linux, VMS, and some weird flavor of UNIX running on Convex supercomputers we were using for aircraft simulation. Scott is one of the most knowledgeable programmers I’ve ever met, and his operating system acumen is rivaled only by his love for filmmaking. I’m still wondering what happened to my cameo on the banks of the Poquoson River, next to the 30′ x 60′ full-scale windtunnel – did that UFO movie ever get completed?
After graduating from the University of Cincinnati (I transferred from RPI later in 1988), I went to work at NASA Langley in the Low Speed Aerodynamics Branch (LSAB). Much of my work involved serving as a liaison to the Guidance and Control Branch (GCB), helping the control system experts in GCB make use of the low speed wind-tunnel data coming out of the LSAB. My boss was John Foster, an incredibly kind and understanding person whose help and advice I would learn to appreciate only later in life.
After NASA, I worked for a couple of years at the University of Chicago, where I learned more about SunOS, Solaris, and HP-UX, and I picked up a new UNIX flavor: IRIX. The wonderful Ken Hopper went out of his way to welcome the new guy by securing a Silicon Graphics Indy desktop workstation, and I even attended the SGI administration course outside Detroit in the winter of 1995. Although I was vastly underqualified to administer most of the machines at the James Franck Institute when I started, I quickly got up to the speed thanks to Dan Walker and Bob Bartlett.
Rejecting the sage advice of Professor John Light at UChicago, I began law school at Northwestern University (now the Pritzker School of Law) in 1996. I summered at Dickstein Shapiro in Washington, D.C., and began work there after I graduated and passed the bar in 1999. I worked at Dickstein for two years before leaving to clerk at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit for the Honorable Richard Linn.
Following my clerkship, I joined the law firm of Brown & Bain, P.A., in Phoenix, Arizona as an Associate. Although I worked for several excellent attorneys, most of my work involved patent infringement cases headed by Jon James and/or Chad Campbell.
I left Brown & Bain briefly after it merged with Perkins Coie, LLP, and started my own solo firm. I later rejoined Perkins in November 2006 and was promoted to Partner in 2012. I left Perkins in 2015 to study Computer Science full-time.