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North Carolina
Flag of North Carolina.svgThis user lives in the U.S. State of North Carolina.
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This user edits articles about North Carolina Highways.
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This user is a survivalist, and has a survival retreat with a food and weapons cache.
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This user is a translator from French to English on Wikipedia:Translation.
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This user is an electronic engineer.
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rs+3 This user currently works on a project applying advanced science and engineering skills towards the design, test, or manufacture of controlled rockets.


Computer Engineer. Physicist. Rocket engineer[1][2][3]. Some kind of Apple employee.

I spent several years under the employ of a small Silicon Valley startup company as an image-and video- processing engineer, programming device software at the kernel-level of an esoteric variant of Berkeley Unix on a multicore, vector-processing supercomputer; before long, I was sitting on the top floor of corporate headquarters at the largest corporation in the world. That got old, and in the spring of 2017, I decided to take some vacation and worry about planetary catastrophes, so I started hanging around at Ames Research Center as a guest of the SETI Institute and the NASA Frontier Development Laboratory, an artificial intelligence research and development accelerator that tackles knowledge gaps useful to the space program.

On return to Apple, I began working on some kind of technology.

Wikipedia is inevitable.

I've been reading encyclopedias recreationally since early grade school. I never liked Britannica while I was growing up (I preferred the World Book Encyclopedia. I suppose it's ironic that my Wikipedia work has been copied over to Britannica). Wikipedia is helping us change the way we produce and consume information.


I try to contribute to the Wikipedia Community.

  • I prefer objective, cited facts, and consider myself pretty good at discerning reliable sources - even in subjects I'm unfamiliar with.
  • I often edit articles with which I have first-hand experience. Although I avoid independent research for these articles, I occasionally have editorial insights which can improve the articles.
  • I have been reading a lot of random articles and learning all about the subject, then making contributions to the relevant Wikipedia articles.
  • Recently, I have spent a lot of time on the Science and Computing Reference Desks. As of Spring 2010, I am the #5 and #4 most frequent contributor on these desks.


North Carolina State University[edit]

Bachelor of Science (May 2006):

  • Electrical Engineering
  • Computer Engineering
  • Physics
  • Minor in Mathematics

Stanford University[edit]

  • Masters of Science in Electrical Engineering (May 2008)

As hard as it is for me to believe, I am currently finished with school and working as a professional image-processing software engineer.


There is a difference between an education and a diploma:

Another reason I have been contributing to Wikipedia lately is that it hones certain skills which I believe are valuable in academia and industry. These skills are practiced during usual Wikipedia activities:

  • Wikipedia articles are complete, concise summaries of complex topics.
  • Rapid fact-finding is useful while reading and editing articles.
  • Debate and conflict handling with a wide spectrum of opponents (some rational, and some not)


CERT is a Federal Government program to educate and prepare citizens for all types of emergency. It evolved out of the old philosophy of civil defense, and helps communities be prepared for all sorts of things - natural disasters like wildfire, flood, earthquake; and human factors, which can be equally disastrous. I am a trained CERT team leader, and a registered Disaster Service Worker Volunteer in the State of California. I hope for the best and prepare for the worst.

Aircraft of Various Landing Gear Configurations[edit]

I fly a couple of the American Champion Citabrias at West Valley that are based at KPAO. These aircraft are fun, sturdy, and safe, and they are certificated in the acrobatic category.

  • Training under 14 C.F.R. Part 61 was nothing like university education.
  • In both cases, I read a lot of textbooks, did a lot of math homework, took written tests, and worked very hard. A significant period of my life was dedicated to the pursuit of education.
  • It was only while learning to fly Citabrias that my instructor and I were responsible for each other's safety, and needed to actually trust each other. This rarely happened at university.

I've also flown the Diamond DA-20; at first, crabbing the landings seemed too easy and felt sloppy; but after getting stuck under clouds a few times, I decided my fabric-covered aircraft were unsuitable for many of my important missions. I started by flying a few hours in the Cessna 172 and its cousin the Cessna Cardinal. I also spent some time in the significantly more comfortable DA-40. Once I kicked into high gear for instrument flight training, I mostly flew the fuel-injected C172S/G with the powerful Garmin G1000 advanced avionics flight computers.

I have had the privilege of logging time as Second In Command of the Super Viking and the A36 Turbo Bonanza; I have right-seated the Lake Buccaneer flying boat; the multiengine Golden Eagle, the SR22, and a few versions of the Piper PA-46. These are spectacular aircraft for traveling, and they are a lot faster than the Citabria. I have even made a few exceptions to my normal preference for certificated aircraft, and have flown the experimental RV series - but only the ones built by people I trust.

I have been a contracted experimental pilot at NASA Ames Research Center, and have flown many of their experimental flight simulators, including the historic Vertical Motion Simulator and several other full-motion and other special-purpose research- and training- simulators.

To get a little extra power, I transitioned into the 7GCAA Adventure Citabria. This is still a reasonable and safe aircraft, and it feels very familiar to me; but it flies a lot smoother than the Aurora, and it's a lot harder to slow down. Among my many adventures in this aircraft, I have experienced an in-flight equipment failure (altimeter inoperative at night, probably due to dust in the static line); I have had to land on a flat tire; and I have been baked in by fog at KHAF.

More recently, I have flown the 8KCAB Super Decathlon. This aircraft is a little bit sturdier than the average Citabria. Among the inverted flight maneuvers I have conducted are the aileron roll and the loop. It is critical to maintain spatial orientation during these types of maneuvers, and to appreciate that aerodynamic forces do not necessarily align with conventional ideas about "up" and "down." Angle of attack is always measured between the airfoil and the relative wind; meanwhile, lift, drag, and thrust vectors orient themselves according to the attitude of the airframe, while weight (due to gravity) remains constant. Therefore, during a complex aerobatic maneuver, the net force on the aircraft and its occupants does not always point in an obvious direction! To make this all work, the commanding pilot must intuitively understand certain ideas about coordinated flight and be able to react quickly and correctly to non-obvious stimuli, all while under fairly extreme conditions of physiology, not the least of which is significant and variable force loading!

Just over the span of a single summer, my friends and fellow Super Dec pilots have experienced many other adventures. While flying his 7ECA, one friend experienced an engine-failure in flight, safely setting down in the baylands. The Citabria landed beautifully on soft ground, and nobody was hurt, but they were miles away from help: this is a detail that is hard for non-aviators to grok. Airplanes, even Citabrias, fly high and fast - even with the engine out! - and it takes only seconds to travel to a place that is miles away from civilization's fragile edge, inaccessible by car, by foot, by boat, by firetruck, or by ambulance. Self-reliance is a valuable skill.

Another friend flying the Super Decathlon had a stabilizer tensioning cable snap off during flight just prior to aerobatic operations; he landed safely without incident. Although not legally required, I have strongly recommended that he file paperwork with NASA's Aviation Safety Reporting Network so that others may learn from his experience.

And, with all our California wildfires in full-swing, I have found myself in adverse, smoky visibility conditions and had to make difficult decisions. Even sturdy airplanes require pilot intervention every now and then, if the intent is to keep them in as few pieces as possible.

A few key take-aways:

  • In aviation, a small event can carry dramatic consequences. Fortunately, I have never had an actual in-flight emergency; but after a few harrowing experiences, you recognize that today is a great day to prepare for the unforeseen.
  • Short landing rolls are difficult in fast airplanes, and require excellent precision and control.
  • Nose wheels are liabilities.

On July 20, 2017, I earned my Instrument Rating, Airplane. I could not have picked a better day, and in fact I did not.

It has taken some emotional effort for me to trust my life to the computers; but greater aviators than I have told me that it's important to stop worrying and learn the scan.

Recommended Reading Material[edit]

Always review all relevant information - including these fantastic texts:

I also always carry a copy of the Pilot's Guide to California Airports, an unofficial reference manual. The Chart Supplement is the canonical reference, and I always carry a paper copy of the latest issue, but the Guide is more compact, and easier to use in-flight; it's great supplemental information.


Some advice for pilots who have already earned their certificates in single-pilot aircrafts: it is a good idea to find a co-pilot anyway, and learn to work well with her - whichever seat you're sitting in.

Work Experience[edit]

Much of my research work has been proprietary or confidential, so I cannot always link to my own publications. This can be frustrating for an open research enthusiast!


  1. ^ Grain 1, Burn 1 Stanford University AA284 Hybrid Rocket test fire. March 2008.
  2. ^ Grain 1, Burn 2 Stanford University AA284 Hybrid Rocket test fire. March 2008.
  3. ^ Grain 2, Burn 1 with Re-Ignition Stanford University AA284 Hybrid Rocket test fire. March 2008.