Co-founder and CTO of ThinkUp
What inspired you to pursue a career in STEM?
As a kid, I was shy and socially awkward, but very curious about figuring new things out. When my Dad brought home my family’s first computer I spent as many hours on it as I could, tinkering, playing games, writing BASIC. Later in life, I didn’t have a definitive moment where I made a conscious decision to pursue a career in STEM. But when I graduated, the dot-com boom was in full force and developer (particular web developer) jobs were everywhere. I was obsessed with the web, and programming was something I loved and was good at, so it just seemed natural to get onto that track.
What is the coolest project you have worked on and why?
ThinkUp (http://thinkup.com) is a social media insights app I started building a few years ago, which I’m creating a company around right now. It’s the coolest project I’ve ever worked on because I’ve learned so much from dozens of open source volunteers from all over the world who have contributed code, filed issues, debated on the mailing list, and installed the app on their own servers. It started out as a very small-scope idea, and thanks to my cofounder and the community, it has blossomed into a pluggable platform that generates insights for any social media source, from Facebook to Twitter to Foursquare, YouTube, and Instagram. ThinkUp’s open source community has welcomed and mentored young coders and converted them into passionate, knowledge OSS contributors. I love being involved in something that helps people learn and grow through building software.
Role models and heroes:
Even the most heroic people are flawed, so I tend to not admire individuals as much as their work. That said, my role models are usually people who have redefined their jobs or industries, produced great works, endured extreme hardship, or all of the above. A few names that come to mind: Amelia Earhart, Eleanor Roosevelt, Alan Turing, Emily Dickinson, my grandmother.
Why do you loving working in STEM?
The possibilities. At this point in history, it feels like the possibilities of technology are limitless.
Advice for future STEMinists?
Don’t overthink things. Just follow your gut and do it.
Favorite website or app: The web!