Posts tagged with people

Meet Caktus CTO Colin Copeland

This is the third post in a series of interviews about the people at Astro Code School. This one is about Colin Copeland the CTO and Co-Founder of Caktus Consulting Group. He’s one of the people who came up with the idea for Astro Code School and a major contributor to it's creation.

Where were you born?

Oberlin, Ohio

What was your favorite childhood pastime?

Spending time with friends during the Summer.

Where did you go to college and what did you study?

I went to Earlham College and studied Computer Science.

How did you become a CTO of the nation's largest Django firm?

I collaborated with the co-founders on a software engineering project. We moved to North Carolina to start the business. I was lucky to have met them!

How did you and the other Caktus founders come up with the idea to start Astro Code School?

Caktus has always been involved with trainings and trying to contribute back to the Django community where possible, from hosting Django sprints to leading public and private Django trainings on best practices. We're excited to see the Django community grow and saw an opportunity to focus our training services with Astro.

What is one of your favorite things about Python?

Readability. Whether it's reading through some of my old source code or diving into a new open source project, I feel like you can get your bearings quickly and feel comfortable learning or re-learning the code. The larger Django and Python communities are also very welcoming and friendly to new and long time members.

Who are your mentors and how have they influenced you?

So many, but especially my Caktus business partners and colleagues.

Do you have any hobbies?

I'm co-captain of the Code for Durham Brigade.

Which is your favorite Sci-fi or Fantasy fiction? Why?

Sci-fi. I've always loved the books Neuromancer and Snow Crash. Recently I've been enjoying the Silo science fiction series.

Headshot of Brian Russell

Brian Russell wrote this
on Mar 27, 2015.

Meet Brian Russell Our Director

This is the second in a series of interviews about the people at Astro Code School. This one is about Brian Russell the Astro Code School Director. He's the guy who does day to day management and works to tell the world about the school.

Where were you born?
I was born in Richmond, Virginia.

What was your favorite childhood pastime?
Drawing with a pencil on paper.

Where did you go to college and what did you study?
I went to Virginia Commonwealth University and earned a Bachelors of Fine Arts in Sculpture and Painting. The majority of my studio work involved creating video installation art. This was done using early non-linear video editing software to create short movies. Those movies were then displayed in sculpture that involved performance art and dance choreography.

How did you go from being a fine artist to a director of a school?
It's a rather long and winding road. But after college I immediately started working as a graphic designer. This led to web design and development work. Later I started a business called Carrboro Creative Coworking and cut my teeth running a business. During that time I worked for many different corporations and several Universities doing tech support and teaching multimedia software. Technical literacy education is a real thread of interest in my career.

What is one of your favorite things about Python?
I've really like Python's readability and how approachable that makes it. Plus the people I've met in the Python community locally and internationally are really cool.

Who are your mentors and how have they influenced you?
Besides my art professors I've learned a lot from my accountant. Seriously, she's awesome! :)

Do you have any hobbies?
I am an avid film photographer. Right now I'm deep into medium format film.

Which is your favorite Sci-fi or Fantasy fiction? Why?
Science Fiction hands down. I've been a sci-fi geek ever sense I saw the "first" Star Wars in the theater. Plus I love William Gibson's writing and Star Trek. LLAP!

Headshot of Caleb Smith

Caleb Smith wrote this
on Mar 10, 2015.

Meet Caleb Smith Our Lead Instructor

This is the first in a series of interviews about the people at Astro Code School. This one is about Caleb Smith the Astro Code School Lead Instructor. He’s the guy who writes our curriculum for our Python & Django Web Engineering class that he’s teaching this year.

Where were you born?
I grew up in Hickory, in the piedmont of North Carolina.

What was your favorite childhood pastime?
Programming DOS games in BASIC. I spent far too much time working on making an RPG I called "Water and Stone".

Where did you go to college and what did you study?
I studied Music Education at UNC-Greensboro.

How did you get into Web Development with Python and Django?
After about two years of learning C++ and front-end web development on my own, I moved to the Triangle area hoping to find a role in the tech sector. I applied for the Caktus summer internship and was able to ramp up quickly thanks to some excellent mentorship from the team. I was hired on as a junior developer after that as my first professional job doing web development.

What did you do professionally before becoming a web developer?
I taught elementary music K-5 in Asheville, North Carolina for two years. I found public school teaching really rewarding but difficult. I spent a lot of my free time doing hobby programming until deciding to pursue programming professionally.

What is one of your favorite things about Python? What about Django?
I like the readability of Python the most and I also appreciate that it is well designed but practical considerations are allowed to trump purity. It makes for a really nice language and system to work in. I like that Django makes so many details of web development irrelevant because it abstracts over them well and is also careful about correctness and security concerns.

Who are your teaching mentors and how did they influence how you teach?
I learned the most from Dr. Randy Kohlenburg, my trombone teacher at UNC-Greensboro. Dr. Kohlenburg thinks a lot about pedagogy and taught us a lot about how to apply those ideas in our own teaching. He's the best mentor I've ever had.

Is there a connection between music and computer programming for you?
When I was about 12 I became really interested in music, joined band, and pursued music education in college. While taking music theory courses, especially in post-tonal analysis, I thought of ways to automate the work involved. I wrote some simple BASIC programs to help double check my work. I rewrote this later in C++ and yet again in Python, which I eventually released as the sator library on PyPI. Through this work, I realized that I had a strong interest in programming that went beyond my initial interest of making games as a kid.

Do you have any hobbies?
I still play trombone and guitar when I can find the time. I've recently been trying to pick up khoomei. (Editor: A type of throat singing.) I'd like to eventually do something with programming and electronic music.

Which is your favorite Sci-fi or Fantasy fiction? Why?
Sci-fi. "Dune" and "Neuromancer" are two of my all-time favorites, and some recent works like "Leviathan Wakes" are great reads too. Good science fiction captures my imagination of where society might be leading in ways that fantasy doesn't, but I do like it too.

Headshot of Brian Russell

Brian Russell wrote this
on Mar 05, 2015.