Rafael Reynoso graduated with a Bachelors of Science in Computer Engineering from George Mason University in 2012. He is now a System Administrator for Ballistic Missile Defense at the Lockheed Martin Corporation. He is currently pursing his Masters in Systems Engineering from St. John’s University.
What inspired you to get into Web Development and Computer Science?
I wanted to become a software engineer in 10th grade at Garfield High School in Woodbridge, VA. My computer science teacher had been in the Army and was trained in computer science. He always told really awesome stories about software development and it made the subject come to life. I remember him telling a story about how he had written code that was used to take down a missile. From that point on I was hooked. When I got to GMU I originally wanted to be a software engineer and that was strictly code, but I also really enjoyed working with my hands so computer engineering gave me the ability to use my hands and also write lines of code, the perfect mix of the two.
What is you single most favorite coding language and why?
My favorite coding language was Java. It was the second coding language I ever learned and it became an almost universal language for me. It incorporated assets from a lot of other languages. It was my favorite because I like the concept of object oriented programming. Before I learned this language, everything was written linearly and I think modular is a better way of writing code. It makes debugging a lot easier when your code is separated into pieces. It has a more real world approach. If you take a car for example, linearly you’d have to write, turn the key > shift into gear > press the gas pedal > turn the tires > move the wheel. Everything is dependent on the other, by writing code for each piece if one thing breaks you can go in and change that piece instead of going back through and adjusting everything. I also like that Java runs on a lot of different devices and it is very easy to create a GUI (Graphical User Interface.)
What’s the longest you’ve spent debugging a piece of code you’ve written?
The longest I’ve spent debugging a piece of code was an entire three days. It was a project while I was in school and I slept an entire eight hours for the entire three days. The most frustrating piece of debugging is just when you think you found the solution and then you adjust it and it turns out that you were wrong. It’s like giving yourself false hope over and over again. What’s even more frustrating is when you find the solution, it makes you feel dumb that you could have miss-typed a letter, and even worse that you didn’t find the mistake after staring at it for hours.
What’s your favorite web development tool?
I’ve been getting into mobile application development in my spare time. My favorite development tool is Phone Gap. With so many devices and file types out there, this program eases the transition from one platform to the next. They have a developer forum as well with a great active community that speak in plain english for self taught first time developers.
What’s the most enjoyable project you’ve ever built?
In my Masters program we used Visual Basic Programming Language, which is a language for creating applications for Microsoft Windows. We were interfacing with the Microsoft Kinect and we connected two Kinects to one computer to monitor a bigger space. We used them to monitor the movements of robots we placed on a field. The idea behind it was if there was some type of emergency situation like a school fire drill and you put all the children in a field monitored by the Kinect, so that the limited staff can tend to the emergency situation instead of using those human resources to babysit the children. Should a child/robot leave the field we set up an alert system that would alert a phone with the application we built installed on it. It would increase efficiency in a emergency situation leading to possible saved lives.
How often do you come across code during your day job at Lockheed?
Almost everyday, even when I’m placed in a role where I don’t think I will be using code. I find myself trying to simplify processes using code. On one team we received a large data set of errors from certain programs. We then have to take those errors and remove the duplicates, and finally prioritize them by typing them into excel. That process often took an employee 20-25 hours to go through that information and prioritize the errors in order of importance. I wrote a piece of code that did the entire process and now writes the errors in excel in a fraction of the time. It was my biggest accomplishment at Lockheed thus far because it has been used a dozen of times in different verticals.
You mentioned you were self-teaching yourself more about mobile application development. Why the sudden interest?
It’s timely for me because it’s so prevalent in the market today. It’s important for me because I want to stay relevant in my industry. Having a life-student mentality is crucial because if you don’t adapt to the changes you could be rendered useless in your own profession. It also gives me the opportunity to have a side job to pay off all my student loan debts a lot quicker.
What’s your favorite website?
The content on Wired.com makes it my favorite website. I recently read an article on connecting the brains of mice and transferring information between them. Another favorite of mine is the Space Jam website. It really shows you how far web development has progressed.