Hello! My professional skills include designing, engineering, and developing code for safe autonomous vehicles, full-stack distributed applications, and scalable enterprise systems. Below is a showcase of selected work organized into four categories.
Below is feedback I've received on performance reviews from managers and clients:
"Strategic architectural design is the area where James shines the most, he was responsible for the architecture, design, and implementation of a major system (YRM) at the Mirage, where the customer was satisfied with the results." -Walid Abu-hadba, manager
"Quality of work is very high. James does what it takes to satisfy the customer and they ask for him by name." -Mike Kinney, manager
"James' technical skills are unquestionable. He makes it a point to analyze and understand every aspect of a project on which he is working." -Paramesh Vaidyanathan, manager
"The BN.com project has been a phenomenal success, providing significant product feedback (including 30 critical bugs) and increased order processing capacity for the customer. What stands out is that James did this single handedly." -Daryl Wray, manager
"James is truly gifted in analysis, design, and execution." -Microsoft client
"His strongest trait is his high quality work and his attention to detail. Whenever James sets about doing something, you know it will be done right!" -Mike Kinney, manager
"James has a strong ability to illustrate difficult concepts." -Microsoft client
At an early age, I realized an interest in science, mathematics, and technology: I mixed compounds using my chemistry set, explored circuits with a modular electronics kit, and poked at the keys of demonstration calculators in department stores. I was especially fascinated by those that were programmable.
A decisive moment in my life was being admitted to Stuyvesant High School in downtown New York City. It was there that I discovered an IBM computer that students could program. (This was before the PC came along.) The encounter led to learning Fortran and Assembly language, and volunteering as an operator: running jobs and performing supervisory functions.
A few years later, to help make ends meet during college, I secured a part-time job in the shipping department of Arizona State University Bookstore. Ultimately, management recognized they had a computer science major on their team and promoted me to support their inventory management and point-of-sale system.
In this new position, I was responsible for downloading transaction data from a digital tape attached to each cash register and keeping the nightly batch process on track. There were evenings when I would stay late to observe the progression of the many steps in the sequence. Occasionally, the system went off the rails because of a tape machine fault, a process crash, or an excessively long procedure.
The most notable issues occurred during "rush" week at the beginning of each semester when thousands of students need to buy books. At times, the lines at all fifteen cash registers extended deep into the warehouse-sized store. The collective increase in volume of data revealed choke points that needed refinement or re-engineering. To simultaneously optimize transaction processing and maintain the vital daily workflow required careful change planning and lots of testing. Over the course of my tenure, I was able to streamline the system to handle all loads - I could launch the nightly process and go home with confidence that it would complete successfully by the morning.
I ntrospective by nature, I wondered if a computer program could modify itself or be the author of another program. This naturally led to a concentration on artificial intelligence courses including computer vision, robotics, computational linguistics, natural language processing, and expert systems. After graduation, in a research position with Honeywell, I experimented with natural language interfaces to query databases. Using the C language and early versions of Microsoft Windows, I detected similarities between the event-driven programming model and the rule-execution loop of an expert system.
At MicroAge, I was tasked with righting a failed attempt to create a PC-based distributed order entry system. The intent was to eliminate the personnel who, over the phone, manually keyed in orders from franchisees. It was my job to pick up the pieces and deliver a working version within three months. I examined the prior design and identified several programs with many overlapping components. I proposed a completely new architecture which combined all functionality on a Windows-like interface. With some great team-members, we delivered on time.
A few years later, I accepted a position with Microsoft as the third consultant in the Phoenix office. My first assignment was at the colorful Mirage in Las Vegas. Originally planned as a three-week project, the consultation rapidly expanded to diverse projects. Over the next seven years, consulting with customers across the Southwest area, I specialized in database optimization and system architecture.
As Microsoft was shifting focus from the desktop platform to mission-critical enterprise systems, I moved up to Redmond to assist with this transition. I worked with select clients wishing to adopt the latest Microsoft server technologies. One of these customers, Barnes & Noble, was ramping up their online bookstore capacity. Implementing a scaled duplicate of the BN.com order processing data center on campus, I worked with customer developers to improve throughput and other Microsoft engineers to resolve product issues.
After twelve years with Microsoft, I decided to pursue personal interests including music. Eventually, I joined a startup managed by a talented graphic designer. At Motivara, I deliver customized software solutions ranging from interactive presentations to responsive websites.
Presently, I also volunteer my software engineering skills at kynamatrix Research Network. One of the initiatives involves defining a scalable algorithm to assist those left homeless in the aftermath of disaster. An emergency urban environment with service centers and residential areas can more effectively support survivors during the rebuild process. The plan incorporates existing service providers and proposes technology assistance in the form of robotic construction and autonomous systems.
email: jwdunn.scientist at gmail dot com