A native of New Plymouth, ID, Matt was a 2007 graduate of the University of Idaho having the distinction of receiving two degrees, one a B.S. in Computer Science and the other a B.S. in Business Information Systems. "I first became interested in computers when I was probably about four or five. My parents purchased an Apple SE II. For some reason I was drawn to it and from then on I was hooked on figuring out how it worked and fixing it when it broke." While in high school Matt did some web programming and participated in a web design team that took 16th at the 2002 national conference for Business Professionals of America.
"Learning Computer Science is not only about writing code using the latest emerging technology. You need to understand the fundamental principles and have a solid development process to work with."
Matt's family has a University of Idaho legacy. His father received an agricultural engineering degree and his mother received an education degree. Currently, his younger sister is pursuing a degree. Recognizing the unique college environment that's been created in Moscow Matt says, "I really liked the campus and the fact that the town was based so heavily around the college. It wasn't like any other college that I visited, where the college seemed like an after thought."
During his time at the University of Idaho, Matt was a member of the Alpha Kappa Lambda fraternity and served as the fraternity's treasurer for two consecutive years. He was active in Alpha Iota Mu, the MIS honors society, and participated in UI Highlights, later rebranded as Vandal Solutions.
Matt's dedication to obtaining two degrees meant he had to satisfy the requirements for both degrees. "Working towards a double major was a lot of extra work, but I believe it was worth it in the end. It broadened my horizons. Each of the degrees complimented the other and helped to put the other in perspective. I wanted to work towards both degrees to be able to be an intermediary between the technology and business fields. There's a lot of potential to leveraging technology in a business setting."
With the two degrees behind him, Matt offered these observations about how they complement one another. "The information systems degree helps to put the computer science degree into perspective by keeping in mind there are limitations to what you can do that may seem artificial when looking strictly at the engineering problem. Just because something can be done doesn't necessarily mean it will get done. It may cost too much or not fit into the business scheme."
Considering his computer science degree Matt had some additional thoughts. "The computer science degree offered a different point of view on solving certain business problems. Knowing approximately how long a project would take or cost, can help sell it to upper management." Matt also appreciated receiving an education that was built on basic principles. "We didn't necessarily focus on just the emerging technologies, but we did get a solid base in fundamentals so that in the future, new technologies and methods can be learned easily."
"It's important to understand how to make software function well in a real business environment."
Reflecting on his education and personal development while at the University of Idaho, Matt says, "[it] gave me a great overview of how to merge the complex and specialized world of software engineering with current business practices. The senior design courses that I went through helped me understanding that software is an invaluable tool if produced correctly. Software development is so much more than just coding. We have to address the things that will make the software function well within a business. Computer Science taught me not only how to code but also how to recognize good software and how to implement it. My Business Information Systems courses provided me with an understanding of how to leverage the advantages that software provides in a real business environment."
After graduation Matt accepted a position with Practice Partner, a subsidiary of McKesson. He's part of a team developing and supporting a suite of applications for health care providers that assist in managing patient records, scheduling patients and doctors, and billing. His current work activities lie within the processes and methods for implementing end-to-end software development that leverages both the skills of developers and the accuracy and speed of automated tools. He is heavily involved with the software build systems and installation systems. Matt's current job requires him to work with systems in which he had no formal education, and yet he was able to get up to speed in his new job within just a few weeks. "I not only understood the systems, but I started to use them. This speaks volumes for the 'learning how to learn concept' that both University of Idaho programs taught me."
"My days at work vary greatly depending on what has happened the day or night before and what critical issues will be worked on throughout the day. The first thing I do is respond to emails I've received. These range from asking questions about our build system to questions specific to the development of new installers. If the build failed the night before I make sure that a developer is looking at the failure and trying to fix it. This is important since it can hold up an entire QA team from testing. Once immediate issues are addressed I have an entire wall, well its windows, in my office that is covered with a list of projects and things to do."
"The ability to communicate and adapt to change are keys to future success."
Matt's background in Computer Science and Information Systems is already paying off. "I think the number one critical skill I use on a daily basis is being able to step back and see the entire process from build to installer to customer, and trying to make sure that every change I make will not adversely effect the overall process and cause more work down the road. Being able to think critically about a situation and not skip over the little details that are easy to miss, is another thing that's vital. Communication is also very important. I work with about 15-20 developers, 10-12 quality assurance testers, and 4 managers. Being able to express my ideas and make sure they are understood is extremely important. The overall skill that has helped me the most and will continue to help me in the future is the ability to learn and to adapt to a changing environment."
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