In addition to knowing several programming languages, I am fluent in the software development process in its many forms--especially the form it takes when software and hardware are co-developed, as they are at GRT.
I earned my EE degree at Stanford University. Since then I have spent 35 years writing software in Silicon Valley for start-ups, small established companies, and large corporations, working primarily on real-time embedded systems.
I started mentoring GRT students in 2009-2010 when my son was a team member (welder); I have stayed to help every year since (except for two seasons when I was trapped by the sirens call of the start-up). Having always struggled professionally to hire engineers with real-time experience, I see FIRST Robotics as a starting point for coders who can eventually fill this need. My goal is to show students that embedded software engineers make the coolest things.
I recall a conversation with a student who had a brilliant algorithm that was too complex to implement. Through questioning I tried to suggest possible simplifications (engineering "approximations"). The algorithm was eventually abandoned, but was the start of turning a theoretician into an engineer.