For the month of February, the Cooperative Institute for Mesoscale Meteorological Studies at the University of Oklahoma is publishing a series of stories highlighting CIMMS’s past, present and future by highlighting its employees. CIMMS is diverse because of its employees — who represent a variety of entities and areas of research. One Q&A segment will be published each Monday and Thursday in February.
Jeff Brogden is a software engineer and has worked at the university and CIMMS for 20 years. Brogden’s work supports NOAA’s National Severe Storms Laboratory and he works on the WDSS-II and Multi-Radar Multi-Sensor System project, as well as providing support with other items. Brogden was instrumental in the continued support of mPING and wrote the Android phone application for the project.
Q: How did you get into your field?
A: When I decided to go to college to get a four-year degree, they said I needed to pick a major. It was between Graphics Arts and Computers. Computers seemed cool to me so I picked Computer Science.
Q: Describe the path leading up to your current job.
A: After I got my Masters in Computer Science, I went to work for Halliburton Energy Services at the research center in Oklahoma. After working there for seven years, I saw a job posting for NOAA NSSL/CIMMS on the ok.jobs USENET New group (who remembers those?). I originally came to work for the NEXRAD Open Principal User Processor projects, and after that was over I moved to the WDSS-II project in Radar Research and Development Division.
Q: Where is your favorite place to be?
A: At home with my family. I love spending time with my wife and kids.
Q: What are you most proud of during your time at CIMMS or what is the most significant achievement of your career?
A: Being handed the mPING project and told to make it work having no idea on how to do web programming or Android programming. I had to teach myself everything on my own. To finally see the Android app uploaded to OU’s app store and watch as people downloaded and used mPING was amazing.
Q: What is it about your job that interests and/or engages you?
A: Writing code is like solving a puzzle. I like finding the solutions and then trying to make sure they are robust, solid and creative solutions to the problem.
Q: Tell us something that might surprise us about you.
A: I’m committed to my involvement with the Norman Teen Reach Adventure Camp — a summer camp for abused teens who are in the local Department of Human Services/foster care system.
Q: What is the most significant advancement in your field during your time at CIMMS?
A: The amount of computing power you can gain easy access to and how relatively cheap it is for how much power you get.
Q: What advice would you provide young professionals or others in your field?
A: When writing software, try to look at the problem from the users point of view. Don’t just solve the problem — which is usually easy — but solve it in a way that makes the most sense to the user and makes it easy for the user to use.
Q: Describe your typical day.
A: Get up and have breakfast with the whole family. Get ready for work. Arrive and go through some computer geeky related news/information websites for about 30 minutes. Read email and answer any questions. Pick the top thing to do from the Massive List Of Things To Do and start coding. Eat lunch at my desk. Continue with coding. Go home and have supper with the family.