My Engineering Path

My back story:

I hold a BS in Mechanical Engineering from UC Santa Barbara, where I graduated with honors and was a Regents Scholar. I’ve always been excited about sustainable technologies, and during college I had an internship working on the GM EV1 electric car, utilizing 3D CAD software to create innovative tooling.

I knew that software, databases, and the internet were exploding, so I moved to San Francisco to immerse myself in new technologies. I landed a position at Palladium Interactive and worked on a team that created websites to support CD-ROM titles: I coded website front ends with HTML and JavaScript on a PC and used Photoshop on a Mac for my creative design work. I began to learn some backend Perl coding and took UC Berkeley extension courses to learn Unix and Perl. Palladium was acquired by the Learning Company and Mattel.

Along the way, I began working on various side projects while working full time, and hence the birth of Captive Coder. I found this an invaluable way to keep up to speed with the latest technologies and innovations.

After Palladium I moved to Fluid in San Francisco and worked in the SOMA area, a hotbed for internet innovation: Fluid is a full service software and creative firm. Beautifully designed, database driven websites were our specialty. I developed an intense passion for HTML, CSS, and JavaScript that would work across any browser or OS, and the ability to turn an of our designers’ complex Photoshop mockups into a web-reality. Due to this affinity for the front end, I mentored junior frontend developers. More and more I focused on backend skills, many which laid the foundation for my work today, such as database design, complex business logic, design patterns, version control, and a love of Linux and open source technologies.

Then it was back “home” to San Diego and ClearBalance where I was a software engineering manager for 9 years, working in a dynamic environment of finance, IT, and healthcare experts. ClearBalance is the leading provider of consumer-friendly patient financing programs to U.S. hospitals and health systems. Serving 4.5 million patient accounts at over 200 healthcare organizations nationwide, ClearBalance brings its healthcare partners improved operating margins, reduced bad debt expense, and accelerated cash. The ClearBalance proprietary account servicing system I created (Fundman) processed over 2 million records annually, integrating with major credit bureau data infrastructure to make real-time credit decisions based on individual customer risk criteria. At the time the Fundman system was sunset, it drove loan funding of over $150 million annually. I managed a team of software developers, database administrators, and offshore consultants. I worked closely with our IT director to map out appropriate technologies, ensuring security and uptime for our 24/7/365 operations. Clear Balance experienced rapid growth and I worked with all key departments heads and our CFO and CEO to build a robust, high performance IT infrastructure and innovative software, and implemented novel data analytics and reporting. Some technologies included: Linux VMWare instances, PHP, Perl, IBM DB2, MS SQL Server, Crystal Reports, HTML, CSS, JavaScript/jQuery.

I then moved to Tucson, AZ and became the IT Director and Co-Executive Director of a new nonprofit, ISEAI. I leveraged a wide variety of software to help the organization fulfill its mission, and to connect board members, staff, and members worldwide. Efficiency was very important, as nonprofits often work with limited means. We experienced rapid growth and implemented and managed Google Workspace (formerly GSuite), developed and customized the WordPress website, managed two developers, and supported all of our systems such as membership software, live streaming platforms for large annual conferences, our customized donation platform, and more.

I’m grateful for the journey that my technical work has taken me on, and I very much look forward to seeing more innovations unfold in the future!

Photo by Luca Bravo on Unsplash

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