An interview with ANerdyMind

To help the community members get to know each other better, I’m doing a series of short interviews. We’re kicking it of with @ANerdyMind, aka Casey.

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Tell us a bit about yourself

I’m currently the entire IT department for a small manufacturing company in Aurora, Colorado. I get to do everything from network and sysadmin to end-user support and training. I love it as it’s always different and the company has some potential to become a big deal in the near future. We make food ingredients that fit well with a lot of the current trends in food, like meat alternatives and sugar reduction.

How did you get your start in IT?

My family got our first computer when I was 8, which I promptly broke. I quickly learned how to re-install an OS and that I could fix about anything that happened to the computer if I was determined to not give up. My dad and I started building computers when I was in middle school and I was always tech support for my family and friends. When I left for college I was fortunate enough to get a job as a student tech working for the university administration offices and the College of Business, which exposed me to enterprise IT. I had planned to go into a career in law enforcement, but by the time I was ready to do that I was much further ahead in my IT career so I decided to stay with that figuring it was likely to pay better and I was less likely to get shot at.

You mentioned you’ve taught IT classes before - what are your favorite and least favorite aspects of teaching?

Teaching is probably the most rewarding thing I’ve done professionally. I worked at a small technical college teaching vocational courses. Knowing that you are helping someone develop the skills they need to pursue a career, feed their family, get a better job, etc., was one of the best feelings. Having students graduate and then get their first IT jobs was great and made me feel like I’d accomplished something worthwhile

I also gained some personal benefits from it: my fear of public speaking is now far less than it used to be and I feel like my understanding of the fundamentals of IT is much greater. I taught courses like A+ and Network+, so even though I was familiar with the concepts I studied them all again. I gained a greater understanding of my craft from not wanting to look like an idiot in front of my class.

My least favorite aspect was the time commitment outside of class. For each hour in the classroom I probably spent another hour of prep time or grading time. That improved some as I became more experienced, but it was far more of a commitment than I’d realized going in and those hours weren’t included in my teaching contract. My grandmother taught high school history, so I’ve always had a healthy respect for teachers, but that experience really convinced me that we don’t pay teachers nearly enough.

Favorite place in the world you’ve visited?

I’m going to go full geek here and say the Kennedy Space Center. I was able to go there for the second time in January of this year and looking at things like the Space Shuttle Atlantis and one of the Saturn V rockets in person is really cool. Seeing the results of what we can accomplish as a species when we set our minds to something and work together is impressive and humbling. Witnessing a rocket launch in person is my next bucket-list item.

What’s your motto or favorite saying?

Make plans, but write them in pencil.

Thanks for taking the time to do this interview Casey! If anyone else would like to participate in this interview series, just shoot me a PM. If you have any follow-up questions for Casey feel free to ask them by replying to this topic.

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Great to meet you Casey! The Kennedy tour sounds amazing - is it worth a trip out there just for the visit?

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I’d say so. I think I could have spent 2 days just at the space center to see everything there. If I were going there for just that I would try to time it around a rocket launch, though those get moved often due to weather.

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I’ve debated doing it in the past. Seeing a launch would be fantastic, but even just the 50th anniversary events seem to be worth the trip.

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I’ve been to the one in Houston but not Kennedy:


It was definitely worth the trip if you happen to be in the Houston area. I’d love to go to Kennedy sometime, especially for a launch.

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DMNS has the Apollo 11 documentary on IMAX until January. If you haven’t seen it, it’s really neat. They restored a ton of original footage from the launch and mission and the voiceover is a collection of TV and radio reports, like Walter Cronkite.

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Teaching is definitely rewarding and fun! Awesome interview!

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Nice to meet you, Casey!

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