Twice in one day I received notes about the far-reaching influence of a teacher on a man’s career. Here is another of them, shared anonymously:
“I am assuming that . . . you must be the [teacher] who taught me Math at [____] Senior High School. If so I would love to reconnect, although I am not super active on Facebook.
“You are one of the most influential people on my life. I went on to get a Math degree at Iowa State, but you getting me started on Computer Science was what defined my life, and I owe you a huge Thank You. I got a double major in Math and Computer Science at ISU, then went to UIUC (University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign) for a Masters and 2 more years after that.
“I ended up working at Intel for 23 years. I guess my biggest claim to fame there was being a member of the Software Directors Council. About 40 people who made all the rules that all the 20,000 programmers at Intel had to follow when developing software. I was on a team of Parallel Programming experts led by David Kuck (you can find him on Wikipedia). The parallel programming tools we developed became critical when multicore processors came on the scene.
“Pixar (who made Toy Story and other computer rendered movies) had a huge server farm making those movies. We sent a team out there and sped up their process by 26 times using the same computers they already had. So a movie sequence that had taken 26 days of computing got done in one, which let them do higher quality image rendering.
“GE healthcare used us to speed up their MRI machines- so that the computing needed to create an MRI image could be done 8 times faster on the same machine. That meant it changed from ‘we will look at the MRI image tomorrow’ to ‘wait in the office, we’ll have the image in an hour.’ And the same multimillion dollar machine could now do 8 times as many images, making the costs go down a lot.
“So whether you realized it or not, You were a part of making those things happen. I have thought about you and Mr. [____] and Mr. [____] numerous times over the years, and more so now that I am retired.
“Thank you for getting that keypunch for us and setting up the deal with Grinnell to let us run programs. That start got me a summer internship for two summers at Argonne National Labs. I was solving 10 variable differential equations on the computer for Physicists Analyzing Nuclear Reactor Safety. I needed both the Math and the Computer skills to do that.