Career Profiles

Explore profiles of real professionals and students to learn how they got started, what they love about computing, and all about the fascinating work they do.
warford profile

Steve Warford

Media Network Specialist, Scottsdale, United States

Degree(s):

PhD Electrical Engineering (Digital Systems) - Arizona State University, 1974
MS Electrical Engineering (Digital Systems) - Arizona State University, 1968
BS Electrical Engineering - University of Kentucky, 1966
“If you want a long, rewarding career in computing, consider the basis of your interest in computing – early, not later, in your educational process. Then, invest yourself in studies, people, and opportunities that make the most of your interest and talents.”

I have always been fascinated with how things work. As a kid, I took all of my older sister’s toys apart to discover their inner workings – of course, I never put them back together. My father and mother were both inquisitive and hands-on, so I grew up thinking everybody was like that and it became second nature to me. And, it did not hurt that I grew up during the Cold War and the Space Race – both of which produced great strides in computing and engineering. For me, the launching of Sputnik 1 by the USSR sealed the deal – I would become an engineer. Read more...

That would have to be the Shuttle Training Aircraft (STA) project. Fresh out of my PhD program, I joined the Shuttle Training Aircraft team at Sperry Flight systems. They had partnered with Grumman Aerospace Corporation to deliver an airborne trainer for teaching prospective Space Shuttle pilots how to control the actual Shuttle during the critical phases of an unpowered landing at the end of each mission. Each Shuttle Commander would make between 800 and 1000 landings at phantom runways, defined safely above terra firma, before getting the “keys” to the Shuttle. Read more...

Although I tend to live life as if everything is a “system” with inputs, outputs, and lots of processes in between, I also enjoy a wide range of activities that bring me satisfaction and stimulation beyond that – especially outdoor activities. Over the years, I have dabbled in gardening, tennis, woodworking, photography, minimalist art, stained glass, astronomy, and amateur radio. At 68, I still snow ski and ride my bicycle to work. Read more...

Warford in the cockpit

Warford at the Arizona Science Center

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Router
Sandra Lerner

It is difficult to imagine a time when computers were not capable of sharing information and resources with great ease. Sandra Lerner pushed the boundaries of network computing as one of the co-founders of Cisco Systems, which introduced one of the first commercially viable routers. The router was born while Sandra was working at Stanford University in the 1980’s after earning her Master’s degree there in Computer Science. To avoid the tedious task of transferring information between computers using floppy disks, she and co-founder of Cisco, Leonard Bosack, created a local area network, or LAN, between their campus offices using a multiprotocol router that Bosack developed. Shortly thereafter the pair started Cisco Systems, and began selling the router which was a success, because it could work with so many different types of computers. After Leaving Cisco in 1990, Lerner started the trendy cosmetics company Urban Decay and became a philanthropist and avid activist for animal rights.

Liz Gerber - Image credit Lisa Beth Anderson
Liz Gerber
Liz Gerber - Image credit Lisa Beth Anderson

Liz Gerber earned her MS and PhD in Product Design and Management Science and Engineering at Stanford. She specializes in design and human-computer interaction, particularly how social computing supports the innovation process. Her current research investigates crowd-funding as a mechanism for reducing disparities in entrepreneurship.
Gerber's work funded by the US National Science Foundation and the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance has appeared in peer-reviewed journals, including Transactions on Computer Human Interactions, Design Studies, and Organization Science.
As an award-winning teacher and researcher, Liz has touched the lives of more than 6,000 students through her teaching at Northwestern's Segal Design Institute and Stanford University's Hasso Plattner's Institute of Design and through her paradigm-shifting creation, Design for America, a national network of students using design to tackle social challenges.

Image credit - Lisa Beth Anderson

Cursor
James Dammann

If you have used a word processor today, moved your mouse on your laptop, dragged an object around on your smartphone, or highlighted a section of text on your tablet, you can thank Jim Dammann. In 1961 during his second year at IBM and just one year after completing his PhD, Jim created the concept of what today we all take for granted -- the cursor. This idea he documented in utilizing the cursor within word processing operations.

After retiring from IBM, Jim went on to inspire future generations of software engineers at Florida Atlantic University. His work there too demonstrated his creativity for he spent considerable effort enhancing their software engineering program by integrating ideas and feedback from local industries into the University curricular. Today, Jim lives in the Westlake Hills west of Austin Texas and spends most of his time in his art studio. He wrote and published The Opaque Decanter, a collection of poems about art, which provided a new view at part of art history.

@ symbol
Ray Tomlinson
Ray Tomlinson

Have you ever considered that someone, at some point, was in a position to choose what symbol would be used separate the user from their location in an email address? That person, it turns out, was Ray Tomlinson, and in 1971 he chose "@". Tomlinson is credited with demonstrating the first email sent between computers on a network, and when asked what inspired him to make this selection he said, “Mostly because it seemed like a neat idea.”

After completing his Master’s degree at MIT in 1965, Ray joined the Information Sciences Division of Bolt Beranek and Newman Inc. of Cambridge, Massachusetts. Since then he has made many notable contributions to the world of network computing. He was a co-developer of the TENEX computer system that was popular in the earliest days of the Internet; he developed the packet radio protocols used in the earliest internetworking experiments; he created the first implementation of TCP; and he was the principle designer of the first workstation attached to the Internet.

CGA palette
Mark Dean

If you have ever used a PC with a color display you have been acquainted with the work of Mark Dean. After achieving a Bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of Tennessee, Dean began his career at IBM. Dean served as the chief engineer on the team that developed the first IBM PC, for which he currently holds one third of the patents. With colleague Dennis Moeller, he developed the Industry Standard Architecture (ISA) systems bus, which enabled peripheral devices such as printers, keyboards, and modems to be directly connected to computers, making them both affordable and practical. He also developed the Color Graphics Adapter which allowed for color display on the PC. Most recently, Dean spearheaded the team that developed the one-gigahertz processor chip. Dean went on to obtain a MSEE from Florida Atlantic University and a Ph.D. in electrical engineering from Stanford University. He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, has been inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame, and is the first African-American IBM Fellow.

Image credits