Meet the Engineer: Aaron T. Myers

Aaron T. Myers

As I mentioned in my inaugural post last week, it’s important to shine a spotlight on the Cloudera engineers who have a hand in making the Hadoop projects run. It’s an obvious point, and yet an overlooked one, that a community is an aggregation of individual personalities who have diverse backgrounds and interests yet a shared passion for the group and its goals. As Jono Bacon puts it in his seminal 2009 book The Art of Community, “The building blocks of a community are its teams, and the material that makes these blocks are people.”

Thus, welcome to the first installment of our “Meet the Engineers” series, in which we will briefly introduce you to some of the engineer-individuals helping to build the foundations of Hadoop. Today, it’s Aaron T. Myers,  aka ATM! 

What do you do at Cloudera and in which Apache project are you involved?

I’ve been a software engineer at Cloudera for over 2 years now. I started out at Cloudera working on our Enterprise products, and then transitioned to working on Apache Hadoop core, specifically focused on HDFS and Hadoop’s security features.

Why do you enjoy your job?

I really like working on tough technical problems – both new features and tricky bugs. At Cloudera, I get to develop and support several complex distributed systems, whose interactions routinely test my technical ability. Some of the most personally-satisfying experiences I’ve ever had have involved getting to the root cause of difficult to trace problems. I also love seeing my work directly improving users’ outcomes – not just engineering for engineering’s sake. At Cloudera, I get to be directly involved in making customers successful, which is a great feeling.

What is your favorite thing about Hadoop?

There are a bunch of things I like about Hadoop, but my favorite is probably that our user group meetups are usually called “HUGs.”

What is your advice for someone who is interested in participating in any open source project for the first time?

Start using the project first. If you don’t have an organic use for it, try following some example tutorials. If you want to submit changes, start small, with something like a little usability improvement that you encountered when first getting up and running. Every open source (or really, any software) project I’ve ever been involved with has a few rough edges that could stand to be sanded off. Usability improvements tend to have a very high appreciation-to-difficulty-of-implementation ratio.

At what age did you become interested and programming, and why?

Probably about age 10, programming in Lego Logo. I was into building with Legos well before that, and from a very early age I thought I wanted to be a mechanical engineer, because I loved building systems that work reliably. Once I discovered programming, I concluded that I could get all the things I loved about mechanical engineering from software engineering, just with a much more rapid turnaround on prototyping. I was hooked.

Look for our next “Meet the Engineer” profile in a week or two. See you then!

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