In Random Profile, we interview a stochastically selected staff member about his or her life at the office—and outside of it.
Staff Notes: You’ve worked in Unidata for 12 years. Tell me about your job.
Ethan: I’m a software engineer and have worked on various projects in those 12 years. Unidata’s main focus is on distributing real-time weather data to the research and university community. My main focus is on various protocols that are developing in the Earth science community to allow users to access scientific data over the Web.
SN: What got you started on this career path?
Ethan: I have always enjoyed science and math. In college, I studied physics and applied math. After moving to Boulder, I got a job at a small start-up that was developing an aircraft instrument for detecting turbulence. I then worked at NOAA, mainly dealing with satellite data. I did a lot of number crunching and some early work on Web access to archive data. Coming to Unidata was something of a continuation of the work on Web access I did at NOAA.
SN: What do you like best about your job?
Ethan: It’s a great place to work—great people, interesting work.
SN: What’s a typical day like for you?
Ethan: I spend a good portion of my time in the office at the computer, answering e-mails, supporting users, and writing software in Java. The rest of my time is generally spent interacting with others, designing software and just bouncing ideas off each other.
SN: Where did you grow up?
Ethan: I was born in New York on Long Island, and then lived for six years in Pennsylvania and two years in New Jersey. Then we moved to Alaska—my dad was a fish biologist and worked there for the state. We were in Juneau for a few years and then in Anchorage. That’s a long answer to a short question!
SN: Where do you live now?
Ethan: Old Town Longmont.
SN: What brought you to the Front Range?
Ethan: I came out to Boulder after graduate school in New Hampshire. I was ready for a change and had always wanted to ski in the Rockies. Not that there’s not good skiing in New Hampshire, but I’d never skied in the Rocky Mountains.
SN: Looks like someone has created some nice artwork for your office walls. Do you have kids?
Ethan: My oldest, Will, is four and a half, and my youngest, Seth, is a little over two. They keep me and my wife, Gwenevere, busy. Her family lives in Longmont and the boys enjoy time with their cousins. We have a dog, Annie. She’s a wonderful dog, too smart for her own good sometimes. None of the artwork is hers, though.
SN: What do you do for fun?
Ethan: What do we do now, or what did we do before we had kids?
SN: Good point. Do you still hit the slopes?
Ethan: Yes, mostly telemark skiing but occasionally snowboarding, which Gwenevere and I both took up after our honeymoon. We went to Hawaii and took surfing lessons and decided to try snowboarding to see if it was similar.
SN: What do you do as a family?
Ethan: Lots of hanging out, cooking, making bread, playing at the park. Lately lots of books and activities about the solar system. Will wants to go to Mars. The kids take soccer classes at Boulder Indoor Soccer. Will just started skating lessons. We’re planning on some camping this summer.
SN: If you won the lottery and didn’t have to work, what would you do?
Ethan: Probably buy a few acres of land and grow things. But I wouldn’t want to have to make a living as a farmer. There are lots of nice aspects to farming but it takes a lot of hard work. My grandparents on both sides were farmers in western Massachusetts. My aunt lives on the farm where she and my mom grew up. Will and Seth haven’t been back there yet so we’re hoping to do that this summer. Lots of aunts and uncles still live there.
SN: So do you do a lot of gardening?
Ethan: That’s what I do to relax—dig in the dirt. Last year we grew veggies and herbs. We’re putting in some apple trees and hope to make cider, and some grape vines, hoping to make wine.
February 11, 2009