Every other month, Random Profile spotlights a stochastically chosen staff member. This month we feature David Mitchell, a network engineer with the Scientific Computing Division (SCD).
David Mitchell. (Photo by Carlye Calvin.)
Length of time in Boulder:
A scant five months. "I actually moved here in August just for something to do." David quickly landed his SCD position and started in mid-October as a network engineer II. "Now I'm a III. We all just got bumped up a level. They decided there should be four network engineer levels instead of three, so in theory we all got instant promotions."
From whence he came:
After growing up in Kansas City, Missouri, David spent much of the last decade in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, where he completed his bachelor's in computer science ("the infamous BS in CS") at the University of Illinois. David worked at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications for several years, first as a student assistant and later as a systems administrator and network engineer. "The [NCSA and NCAR] environments are fairly similar, so it makes for an easy transition. The scenery's much better here, of course, unless you like corn and soybeans."
What he likes about networking:
"It's the glue that holds everything together, especially with the 'Net becoming so popular. It's neat to understand how networks actually work."
Those heady, early days at NCSA:
David was a systems administrator when NCSA's Mosaic browser, the predecessor to Netscape Navigator and Internet Explorer, was all the rage. "It was fun--as fun as a systems administration job can be. Everyone knew who we were. We had a Sparc II that was the main server for NCSA. By the time I left, there were 10 Hewlett-Packard servers to keep up with the demand."
What's keeping him busy on the job?
"We need to increase the speed of the network in the machine room, so I've been doing some testing." Currently, the big machines can talk to each other at about 155 megabytes per second, roughly 15 times the rate of standard Ethernet. He's exploring a standard that would raise the speed fourfold, to 622 MB/sec, as well as the option of even-faster gigabit Ethernet.
Key upcoming event:
His wedding. David will be marrying his high-school sweetheart, now a graphic designer, on 30 January in Kansas City. "We met at her sixteenth-birthday party. She actually had a boyfriend at the time who was throwing the party. He didn't talk to me much after that." They're both happy to be in Boulder:
"It took me nine years to get tired of Champaign. It took her only about a year and a half."
In his spare time:
David--what else?--writes code. "I've been programming for a new operating system, BeOS. The company behind it is called Be, Inc. It provides a nice, clean GUI [graphical user interface] that's kind of like a Mac's. At the same time, you can open up a shell window and do all the stuff you're used to with UNIX, so it's kind of like the best of both worlds."
Low-key bicycling in town. "I like to ride my motorcycle up in the foothills, too. It's a lot more fun than riding around the cornfields of Illinois. You actually get to turn now and then."
The secret to getting an office with a window:
"I know the answer to that one--transfer to a division other than SCD." BH