My Story - by Gray Abbott
This is the "story version" of my resume. It helps in reading between the lines of my resume - to fill out the whole person. The resume lists some of my skills and experience. It is fairly long and detailed, describing many different kinds of activities. In fact, these are only the most discrete, completed projects; there were many other interesting (but losing) proposals and small projects that I have not included, in the interest of brevity.
I have worn a lot of hats. Most involved creating software, mostly for scientific/engineering purposes. I have been addicted to solving problems with computers since 1972, when , while in high school, I got my first "job", porting and upgrading a program which sorted and analyzed scouting reports for the Southern Methodist University football team. I was paid in free computer time. SMU still lost.
In my most recent regular job, I was a key developer for a startup, Universal Dynamics, making shaker table controllers for vibration testing. These systems are used in testing everything from wiring harnesses for automobiles to expensive satellites. This was a totally new field to me, but our product became widely respected as one of the best available. Unfortunately, differences developed between the technical staff and the owner, and others and I felt they could not be resolved; therefore we all left.
Previous to that venture, I spent nine years working at an engineering services firm, of about 100 people, called Creare, in Hanover, New Hampshire. During that time, I developed software products for UNIX platforms in the areas of graphics, device drivers, data acquisition and analysis, and computational fluid mechanics. I designed, wrote code, wrote user documentation, and answered customer support calls - whatever needed doing. I also worked on a number of consulting projects for government and industrial clients.
On the consulting side of Creare, I was among the group of "project leaders", who worked mostly independently, bringing in their own work and recruiting project teams from among other project leaders, junior engineers, technicians, and other support staff. Much of our work was funded under the Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) program (Creare is, yearly, among the top companies in number of SBIR awards). I personally authored or coauthored winning proposals and ran projects with budgets totalling over $2M. These projects were in such diverse areas as numerical modelling, expert systems, ultrasonic ranging, and hearing aids.
A lot of our work at Creare involved high speed data acquisition and analysis, usually on Masscomp/Concurrent or Hewlett Packard equipment. Click here for more about my experience with Hewlett Packard.
While at Creare, I also contributed significantly to the infrastructure of the entire company. I founded the microprocessor development lab, to provide microcontrollers for various engineering projects. (Most of the engineers at Creare are of the mechanical variety, building exotic hardware or solving fluid flow problems.) I organized an AI reading group which discussed papers on expert systems, neural nets, and so on. I taught an internal seminar on digital signal processing. And I gave various talks on auditory perception, software tools, and some of my projects.
I also served as Email, News, and Internet administrator and was an active evangelist for using networking and information servers to improve corporate operations. I developed a patch to the public domain Wide Area Information Server (WAIS), which allowed easier indexing of one-of-a-kind documents. We ran this on an internal server, allowing us to search SBIR and other solicitations, using WAIS's powerful "relevance feedback" to automatically find topic descriptions which were good matches to work we had proposed before but which had not been funded. I released this patch to the public and, as far as I know, it is still running on many WAIS servers on the Internet.
When policy changes at Creare made it less attractive to do product work inside the company, I reduced my hours and formed my own company, Sofgry Systems, to help small businesses, mostly run by friends, develop their products. I get a certain satisfaction from working on products, because your work affects more people - there's a fan-out. So my Creare work let me take on unique technical challenges, while my Sofgry work let me do products. My last project at Sofgry was the initial work on the shaker table control systems.
Before Creare, I spent five years at Teledyne Acoustic Research (maker of AR Loudspeakers), in the research department. I worked on computers models of human hearing, digital audio processors, computerized quality control, robotics, and other stuff. I wrote the firmware for the AR Stereo Remote Control and was part of the Adaptive Digital Signal Processor (ADSP) team, developing an adaptive digital equalizer for loudspeakers and rooms. This work lives on at Cambridge Signal Technology (SigTech), who make a professional audio version of the equalizer. Please go out and buy one - I'd like to be able to sell my stock, someday...
Prior to AR, I was at MIT - first as a student (physics), and then as a programmer at the Energy Lab. I also spent some time hanging around at Polaroid, where I studied color vision with Edwin Land and John McCann.
Many people ask me "What do you really want to do?" I find this question difficult to answer, because I have many interests and abilities. I could be very happy pursuing any of several different technical areas. What I am really interested in is doing interesting work with smart, fun people, hopefully with potential for some serious personal profit.
I currently live in the Austin, Texas area and I intend to stay here for now. My wife and I are both native Texans and our families are here. After 20 years of living in New England, we decided to move back so our young sons could see more of their grandmothers. But for a year and a half, I worked out of an office in Round Rock TX, telecommuting to an engineering site in San Diego. It worked very well, and I now preach the idea that, with resources like the Internet becoming pervasive, companies can hire the best people by letting them live where they want to. Of course, not everybody agrees with me, yet, but I am defnitely on the lookout for places that are more "hip".
So, for now, I am working as a freelance programmer and consultant, again under the name, Sofgry Systems. I normally work out of my home office, where I have a dedicated Internet connection. I've had clients from several different states and two continents. Some of them, I have never met in person. I am enjoying being my own boss, but I am still open to the "right" opportunity!