Two Techie Speakers at Sun Tech Days Atlanta
By marinasum on Jan 09, 2008
After an uneventful flight the day before Sun Tech Days Atlanta, I rode to the hotel with a few technical evangelists from Sun, who also traveled here on the same flight from San Francisco. Two of them, staff engineers Doris Chen and Sridhar Reddy, and I shared a nice Italian dinner, during which I asked them to tell me about themselves.
Doris was born in Shanghai and moved with her family to Vancouver, Canada; there, her schooling went from junior high school on up through graduate classes. After being awarded a Ph.D degree in Computer Engineering by UCLA, Doris first worked as an architect for a software company that specialized in Web-based network management software. She joined Sun in 1999 as a code-camp engineer and developed training material with Sun products and technologies. Following a transfer shortly afterward to the Technology Outreach group as a technical evangelist, a position she's been holding for the past eight years, "the travel started." Her job entails frequent travels to events such as Tech Days and Java User Group meetings, customer briefings, and universities.
"It's fun, though," added Doris. "I constantly talk and communicate with developers outside Sun in person or by email, find out their needs and aspirations, and report back to our product teams. In fact, I serve as the front end for developers."
As for the what to many would be a challenging task of presenting to the public, Doris observed, "Once you overcome the stage fright, you really enjoy it." She made it sound so easy.
Currently, Doris's focus is on Web-tier programming, Ajax, Web 2.0, Java performance tuning, GlassFish, and the Java EE platform. Truly an impressive list.
To me, Doris, whom I should but won't call Dr. Chen, looks all of 21 years old. But what an admirable background she possesses and what a bang-up job she's doing!
Sridhar obtained a B.S. degree in Mechanical Engineering in India and an M.S. degree in Computer Science from Florida Tech. "While I was in grad school, the first Sun workstation came out. 'That's the company I want to work for,' I told myself." And sure enough, after finishing up his thesis on graphics, Sridhar joined Sun in 1988 in Catalyst Technical Support, which later was named Market Development Engineering (MDE) and, a few months ago, ISV Engineering. That group's main goal is to ensure that ISV software runs the best on the Sun platform.
During his first few years at Sun, Sridhar worked with MCAD and ECAD ISVs on CAD applications with emphasis on graphics and GUI; he also traveled extensively on the job. Then came a transfer to the East Coast in 1991, after which Sridhar continued to work with the ISVs there. In 1995, when his second child was born, "no more constant travels," he decided and left Sun in the same year. He rejoined Sun in 1999--back at MDE as a code-camp developer and, like Doris, soon became a technical evangelist.
"My 15 years of programming at Sun is, in brief, a ton of fun," mused Sridhar. "It's sheer joy to present to developers, brainstorm with them, and simultaneously promote Sun's products and technologies. That's the key reason why I'm still doing the same job after so many years. Mind you, it's a big world out there and by far not everyone can access the Internet. But people are eager to learn and the gratification that I feel when I see them become energized and inspired after our presentations makes my job ever stimulating."
Currently, Sridhar's specialties are in the Java EE platform and JavaFX technology. "Because of my background in graphics and GUI programming, I love JavaFX [technology]," added Sridhar. "I enjoy developing the related hands-on labs and presenting them. And y'know what? Those labs have received solid positive ratings from the developer audience."
Sridhar has a wonderful way of speaking calmly, reasonably, logically, and succinctly. His sincerity and honesty shines through.
"We Love Our Jobs"
Both Doris and Sridhar couldn't sing enough praises of their jobs at Sun. "We evangelists are all at the same level. Even though we have our own areas of expertise, we support but don't compete with each other. And we all revel in connecting with the developer world," they told me, a twinkle in their eyes.
How enviable. How exciting. And how fortunate of Sun to have these folks on board.
Do visit the Sun Tech Days site.