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  • Tim Burns

I wasn't a good student

I filled out a form a few days back where they asked about my college transcripts. It made me realize that I wasn't a good student in college. I mostly got "C" grades with the occasional "B". I took courses that interested me and enjoyed my classes, but I sucked at tests and writing essays. Funny though, in my 30-year career as a developer, I can count on one hand the number of developers I've worked with who can develop systems as well as I can.


I learned computer science by typing in Numerical Recipes from a book I checked out from the library. I remember a professor sneered at me and told me, "Just scan it, then at least you'll learn something." The only computer science class I took was an advanced class on the Finite Element Method, which technically isn't computer science, but applied numerical analysis; however, I did get an "A" in that class.


I owe my career to three professors - Jim Halfpenny, Mike Pernice, and Peter Alfeld, one of whom is a wildlife biologist, and the other are both applied mathematicians. The right person at the right time can change a person's life and these three teachers changed mine. My gratitude is all I can offer them.

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