Like so many other kids, I thought that being a video game developer would be the coolest career path ever. Then, in high school, a career development field trip changed my mind. The company we visited put the software developers in the building’s basement. Their offices consisted of cinderblock cubicles, and contained only a desk and a spartan metal shelf with some Star Wars figurines for decoration. My future career suddenly felt like it needed a huge adjustment.
I was still interested in software, but I decided emphasizing in electrical engineering might lead me to a work environment with a window. In the meantime, I was lucky enough to find a pretty high paying job for a highschool student. A small company that produced school bus route planning software hired me. I figured I was still in highschool and had a little time to figure out what I really wanted to do with my life. I loved it! While working there, I taught myself how to program and I used the job to start paying for college.
When I got to college, I discovered Computer Engineering—the perfect union of software and hardware. Hey, speaking of perfect unions, I also met and married my beautiful wife, Rachel (also known as The Stay at Home Chef) while I was at college.
Just before I was going to graduate, Rachel convinced me to attend a career fair, where I was drawn to a booth that had fighter jets on it. It turns out, the booth was run by the U.S. Navy. Okay, I didn’t run off and join the Navy, but I did get a job working for the Navy as a federal employee. For the next four years, I worked at a remote Naval research base prototyping all sorts of things. I gained experience in PCB design, embedded software, 3D design & manufacturing, and more.
During this time, I realized that I hated the bureaucracy and rigidity of government employment. I found another job on the California coast and bounced my way around the commercial and residential security system business. I fear that some of the code I wrote during this time might still be opening doors in a prison in Florida. My career eventually led me back to Utah, where I’ve enjoyed the freedom of working on some of my own crazy projects, helping my wife with her business, and enjoying the great outdoors.
Since I was young, I’ve been passionate about science and engineering. I hope that my projects spark the same kind of imagination and wonder in those who want to learn how to build and engineer things that they think up on their own. I hope more people take an interest in how things work. Gabe Newell, one of the greatest video game developers ever, said it best when he said:
The programmers of tomorrow are the wizards of the future. You’re going to look like you have magic powers compared to everybody else.Gabe Newell