Nathan Pickrell

Nathan Years Active: 2010-2012 "I AM ROOT"

Please give a description of yourself and what you do.

As of this writing, I am a computer science grad student studying under Dennis Volper. I got my BS in computer science in December of 2010 (4.5 years after I entered college in 2006. Yes it pays to have a plan guys. That's all there is to it, besides studying obviously).

I am an intern at IBM with several potential job offers. My area of expertise is Unix/Linux System Administration. I acquired so much Windows experience over the years, I hate to admit I probably know it better.

Though I don't truly consider myself a coder or software engineer, I'm ironically enough better at those than many of my coworkers and many students (Hint: Don't declare variables named sssss and sssSSS). I'm no Edgar Martinez or Andrew Meredith, but I know my way around more programming languages than I can count on one hand. Having seen so much code over the years, I am usually able to help someone if they have a problem they are stuck on. Helps to have more than one set of eyes guys. No reason to go through coding completely alone.

How did you find out about ACM?

I was in Steve Gold's 274 class back in '07 and he told us about the ACM programming team. I competed in the competition that year with Michael Larson and Joshua Wall and competed again in '08 with Dawood Putros and Edgardo Martinez. ACM died at that point so I didn't really get involved again for a while.

However, I knew most of the members that revived it later.

What made you join?

In summer of 2010, I went to Switzerland for a month on a class trip. Joshua Liong (ACM VP at the time), Richard Wang (ACM Secretary), Matt Sguerri (ACM Historian), and Lynn Cherngchaosil (ACM member) were with me and we formed a tight group there as we traveled around (who'd have thought trains and buses could be so fun to ride?). I learned about the revival of ACM by the Puppetmaster Sal Llamas and his cronies during Alex Ortiz's administration followed by Edgar Ortiz (both of which I knew through EAT and from classes).

I attended one meeting at ACM and noticed...I knew everyone there. Frank, Ariana, Lynn, Alex... I knew them all because I was TA for their 174/274 classes. Andrew, Edgar, Richard and the rest of the more senior members had been in my classes at some point.

I had apparently acquired a great deal of respect from everyone there and fit in naturally. During the next elections, Joshua nominated me for president and it was a practically unanimous approval.

What advice would you give to new students?

Most of the advice I could give people is just a repeat of what Sal says. And Sal got most of it from 3 books: The Outliers, Drive, and Getting Things Done. So go and read those! Or listen to them! I got through Outliers and Drive on long car rides listening to the audiobooks. That was GREAT.

Advice to brand new students you need at the getgo, make a tech tree of courses and plan out where you are going and what classes you are taking. If you plan out your courses, you'll graduate on time assuming you didn't fail Linear Algebra/Calc 2 3 times (Linear Algebra is the reason I took 4.5 years to graduate).

Did you hold any officer positions or did you work on any projects for ACM?

I was President of ACM for the 2011-2012 academic year (also the AESB president for the second half of that year. I'd advise against anyone doing that as it was a considerable amount of work to hold both those positions at once).

Strangely, I don't recall ever officially being on any ACM project, but I've contributed a considerable amount of resources and time to the org and its projects overall. Some of this support:

  • Setting up ACM servers and a repository on them (a repo of pictures and an SVN repo)
  • Acting as a contact with the CECS labs (I was a lab tech for the same years I was active in ACM)
  • Organizing meetings and dealing with schedules (wasn't necessarily hard but was annoying...VERY annoying)
  • Giving some of my own money to food costs as ASI refuses to let more than 20 percent of a grant go towards food (software is cheap for students, food is not)
  • Giving advice to members of ACM. (advising meetings were probably the most effective thing I ever did)
  • Contributing to the vast quantity of shenanigans that go on at ACM.
  • Convinced a few influential members to join us.
  • Managed to carry on good relations with EAT because I had long ago established a good relationship with Bob Ward. I almost became the EAT president back then but some of EAT's members from then were....douchbags, to say the least.

Really though, I didn't do all THAT much. I'll be the first to admit Sal Llamas was the true puppet master behind the scenes. He gave us structure and a few ideas and I just went and ran with it.

What will you remember the most?

Short answer? Shenanigans. Oh man was there shenanigans... They went on before David Nuon appeared out of nowhere but he was the first one to try to catalog it.

Everything from the failed yet awesome Thorbot, to the infamous I AM ROOT story hacking a "security box" will be remembered.

The coordination between members is also something I won't soon forget. When I finally become a manager somewhere, I will remember the strategies I learned here.