Employee Spotlight: From Adjunct to Engineer
Owein Reese, who manages a group of engineers in MediaMath’s Creatives Management Tribe, took an unusual route to a career in software development. Owein’s mother was a programmer at IBM back in the days of punch-card programming (well… the 80’s) but punch cards failed to interest him in programming as a child. It wasn’t until he got to college that he began to write code to solve mathematical problems and still later on in his career that software became the focus.
Owein entered the University of Rochester with degrees in optical engineering and math at the peak of the dotcom boom. While still an undergraduate he rebuffed job offers to leave school and take over entire production lines at optical fabrication labs; a side-effect of the hyper competitive, anything is fundable environment which characterized the birth of the internet.
As Owein describes, “They would just call up and ask: what are you studying? What classes have you taken? Your GPA is what? And then offer me a job leading production at a factory or in a company for some mind-blowing salary …and two years later, they were all unemployed.”
After Rochester, he finished a Masters degree in Industrial Mathematics at Worchester Polytechnic Institute. There his research in the Physics department on how phonons (vibrations at a quantum level) induce different behaviors at an optical level yielded two papers: one in Physics Review B and the other in Nano Letters. Following graduation, he continued to pursue an academic bent, spending time as an adjunction professor teaching statistics and math for liberal arts before deciding to join the work force.
His first job out of academia was in defense, working on modeling and simulations of infrared countermeasures. From defense he moved to NASA weather satellite systems and joined a team of software developers under the mentorship of a wise old programmer. Suddenly code was more interesting than the science and his interests took him into functional programming at a financial startup. After a very brief stint at JPMorgan he joined MediaMath.
Today, Owein oversees engineers distributed around the country focusing on validating, classifying and serving creative assets at MediaMath. He loves working with distributed teams and adventurous developers—he is a pilot and wind surfs for fun. He also is a big believer in open source software, an active contributor to the Scala community, and has created a number of libraries and plugins. He’ll be speaking at Scala by the Bay on Sunday, November 13th.