Capstone Blog Series #1: Introductions

The inside of my home server

Originally posted to blogs.oregonstate.edu on Apr 6, 2023

To begin my inaugural post in this series I’d like to tell you a little bit about myself. My name is Andy, and I’m excited to have you all with me as we navigate the next three months. I was interested in computers at a very young age, and I went on to build my first desktop when I was in high school. Since then I’ve built many more as well as a few home servers to host my own cloud services. Despite my interest in computing I had always considered it a hobby, and my first degree was in Ethics, History, and Public Policy. I thought I wanted to be lawyer (I didn’t). Instead of continuing my education I went to work for an insurance company. While I wasn’t sure whether insurance would be my career, I liked the people I worked with and it paid the bills. I ended up working in claims processing for seven years until, unfortunately, I experienced some health issues that forced me to leave the workforce altogether. It was not a happy time, yet as with any life-changing event it also brought new perspective. As I began to recover I realized that, despite the setbacks, I had a very rare opportunity to pursue an entirely new course in life. Where I had previously only considered tinkering with computers a mere hobby, I became determined to leverage my skills and start a new chapter.

I have taken on many roles in both my work and personal life. I’ve led projects, participated in teams, collaborated in multi-disciplinary settings, and worked alone. One thing I’ve learned about myself is that I am adaptable. I honestly don’t know what role I might settle into as a programmer in a room full of other tech people because it’s a new experience for me in many ways. However, I am becoming increasingly confident in my ability to rise to a challenge, and I suspect that my flexibility will continue to be an asset in this new setting as well. I am not particularly nervous about working in a group, I’ve done it many times before. That’s not to say I don’t have concerns though. Namely, group work is rarely fair. Different people have different talents, expectations, ambitions, and the list continues. It is my hope that my teammates and I are able to communicate well enough that our contributions are equitable, even if they can’t be perfectly equal.

I was actually quite overwhelmed when I first browsed the list of projects that are available for this term. Did I want more experience with low-level programming? Embedded systems? An industry project? It was a lot to absorb. I gradually began to narrow things down and, to speak plainly, I selected the projects that sounded like the most fun. I have no doubt the process will be educational too, but considering it’s my last term at OSU I also wanted to create something that would be meaningful to me personally. To that end, I focused on projects that would allow me to enhance my skills with operating systems/computer architecture, graphics, and games. In addition to learning more in those areas of personal interest, I also hope to gain a better understanding of what it’s like to work collectively on a codebase. My previous classes have prepared me with theory and isolated exercises, now it’s time to put that knowledge to use.