100 PRINT "Hello World!"
Well, it began in the '80s when my dad bought a TI-99 with a beginner’s programming book. I typed 100 PRINT “Hello World!” and my passion for coding machines came alive. I started writing video games for myself and would painstakingly convert each byte from the grid paper drawings into hexadecimal just to create simple sprites and landscapes. Many years later, I received an Apple IIe as a gift and continued coding and designing games as a hobby.
Back to school
In 2002, I returned to college to pursue a degree in Mechanical Engineering. I was quickly introduced to the MATLAB platform and my passion for coding was re-energized. MATLAB mixes coding with math; I was stoked (yes, I love math). I picked it up fast. In my first MATLAB class, I won the programming challenge at the end of the semester. Throughout the next few years, I became skilled enough with the platform that it landed me a MATLAB application developer job after I graduated. Now, I’m getting paid to code!
I’m an analyst
So, now I’m working as an analyst for this small engineering company called Porter McGuffie, Inc.. When I wasn’t doing FEA, I was writing software to interface with our vibration analysis equipment. I was given the task to build an interface that programmatically controlled the sensors, process the data and displayed it on some sort of UI. After I completed the application, we immediately sold our first licensed version. In addition to this application, I also worked on a variety of scripts and helper apps to aid in engineering analysis. Not programming related but I also wrote a paper while working there called Using Computational Fluid Dynamics and Finite Element Analysis to Determine Bolt Stresses Due to Thermal Cyclic Loading.
So what about web development?
While working as an engineering analyst, I was trying to build a website for my DIY projects. I knew nothing about how to build or design a website so I used a GUI type web builder. It was limiting at times, so I would hack at the code. Eventually, I decided to just sit down with a good HTML & CSS book and learn how to build a website. Eventualy, I was looking for excuses to build websites and soon became skilled enough to make a career switch. Three years later, I submitted my resignation at my full-time engineering job and started a web design and development company called Philsquare.
In the early Philsquare days, I setup basic WordPress websites and provided workshops. Several months later, I landed a large project and hired a couple developers part-time to assist. It was clear to me that this project would need something other than WordPress. I started looking into application frameworks and ended up choosing a PHP framework called Codeigniter. The team and I learned how to use the framework and started building the client’s application. Fast forward several years and we have moved on from Codeigniter to Laravel. I have been using Laravel for more than 4 years on all our major applications.
Philsquare is one of my greatest accomplishments. I started the company with zero clients and money but was able to build up a good client base within a year by providing excellent customer services and products. I have gained an incredible amount of experience while running the company as creative director, designer, and developer.
In 2015, my wife and I decided to buy a camper, let our lease expire and travel full-time (check out https://mareulife.com). Once on the road, Philsquare no longer made sense as a "local" web agency. I made a decision to start winding down the company so I could focus on becoming a freelance web application developer.
That's the quick history of my journey from a young kid with a hobby to becoming a professional in that same hobby I still love today.