Task automation caught Chad McKee‘s eye while working in the field of Computational Chemistry, the design of code that simulates the properties of chemicals, following his Ph.D graduation. The exposure led him to enroll in DigitalCrafts‘ Full-Stack Immersive program to find out more about the power behind automation for demanding tasks.
“For me, the tech field is primarily interesting due to its rapid growth and development,” says McKee. “It’s hard to get bored with something that’s constantly changing for the better.”
He brought his previous experience in Chemistry to tackle one of his recent software development projects — a Random Assembly (RASS) algorithm which automates the search for novel chemical compounds, taking the guesswork out of the equation. He likes to stay on top of trends through online programmer communities.
McKee is ready to wear many hats at any company that will allow him to continue growing as a developer. Don’t miss out on this analytical thinker with a solid foundation in data analysis.
What program are you graduating from?
I’ll be graduating from DigitalCrafts’ 16-week Full-Stack Immersive Web Development Program in early August, and am very excited at the prospect of landing a full time development position.
What is your previous education?
I attended school at the University of Georgia where I received my Ph.D in 2013. My field of study was Computational Chemistry, which involves the application and design of code for simulating the properties of chemicals and materials. Aside from being very interesting, my time there also served as great exposure to just how powerful programming is as a tool for automating tremendously demanding tasks that simply aren’t possible for a person to carry out.
This is a lesson that hit home even more so as I started to write more substantial code as a Materials Science Postdoctoral Research at Louisiana State University. Ultimately it was these two experiences that led to my passion for coding and decision to switch career paths.
What startup/tech projects have you worked on?
I’ll give two recently completed examples. On the web development front, I just finished a group project called Game On. It’s a full-stack web application which facilitates the visualization and comparison of NBA sports data across all current players. On the software development end, I recently developed a Random Assembly (RASS) algorithm which automates the search for novel chemical compounds. It’s a nice tool because it eliminates a lot of laborious guesswork which is often necessary on the part of chemists when they come across a new system of interest.
What tools are essential to you as a developer?
I’m a big fan of IDEs as a means of facilitating the development process. To that, end JetBrains’ PyCharm and WebStorm come to mind as technologies that help when putting together larger multicomponent projects.
I’d also be remiss for not mentioning how helpful various internet resources can be for answering challenging problems ranging from bug fixes, package installation errors, to elegant algorithm designs for tackling problems that are potentially at times quite obscure. In my view, the online support community amongst developers is a tremendous resource.
How do you stay informed about emerging trends?
Aside from keeping up with the various tech articles and blogs that are available online, I find that regularly chatting with both junior and senior developers about how they are tackling their (diverse!) projects is a great way to keep up with current trends in the field.
What are your best technical or creative skills?
Coming from a science background, I tend to have an analytic thinking style which lends itself well to grappling with programming logic. This is something in particular that I feel has really aided me when attempting to tackle real world challenges through code. I also have a solid foundation in and passion for data analysis, which I hope is a skill that will continue to serve useful in any future development positions. Finally, I enjoy studying algorithm design, which I believe returns tangible benefits in the form of increased efficiency of the codes that I author.
What’s next on your list to learn?
Recently I’ve been studying and implementing various web scraping techniques, and that’s something that I see continuing at least into the near future. I feel like scraping is an important skill because there is such a wealth of valuable information available on the internet. However, most it is not accessible in the form of an easily digestible API, so several of the tools I’ve been using like PhantomJS afford a really powerful means of automating the aggregation of project-relevant data.
Are you interested in working for a startup, mid-sized company, or a corporate giant?
I’m more interested in the nature of the role than the size of the company. I’m looking for a position that is continually challenging, that will allow me to “wear many hats,” and that can offer me the prospect of real growth as a developer.