Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Incredible Alumni: Dustin Masters

After graduating from LETU in 2012 with a computer science degree, Dustin Masters took his skills to Faithlife Corporation, a leading developer of Bible study software. He now spends his days using his technical skills to help people better understand the Bible. Find out what life after LETU is like for Dustin as a development lead at Faithlife:
Dustin Masters, 2012 computer science grad

What does an average day look like for you?
As a dev lead, it’s my job to lead a team of developers by guiding technical decisions, writing code, and reviewing others’ work. Right now, I am leading the Faithlife.com team. I conduct weekly one-on-one meetings with everyone working on my team to invest in them and help them accomplish the goals they’ve set. On an average day, I grab a double-shot CaffĂ© Americano, head upstairs for the team’s daily scrum (a quick status update), triage new bug reports, implement some new cool features, and ship to our public beta site! We ship multiple times a day and encourage everyone to use the beta site and give us feedback before we ship to the main site. This allows us to catch bugs and design flaws much sooner. 

What's a high point in your career since graduating from LETU?
The launch of Logos 6 was a pretty significant event in my career. Before working on Faithlife.com, I worked on the Documents Team, which was responsible for storing and sharing user documents. We all worked really hard to write several new web services that would support some of the new features in Logos 6. Logos 5 supported syncing notes, but the service was not originally designed to handle notes with multiple attachment points. We had to come up with an algorithm that would handle upgrading a user from Logos 5 to Logos 6 without losing any of their notes, while allowing them to share notes with users that were still using Logos 5. Since the Logos 6 engine wasn't free yet, it was important not to break sharing for users still on the older Logos 5 engine. After a few months of testing, we were able to roll it out to everyone and had a smooth launch of this new service. The commitment to a great user experience without forcing people to upgrade is one of the many reasons I love working here.

Why did you choose to study computer science? 
I’ve always been interested in computers. I have been programming since before I began high school, so I'd known I wanted to study computer science at a university for a long time. I chose LeTourneau because some of my parents’ colleagues graduated from there, and there was a lot of diversity in the states and countries students came from. I knew I’d have a good chance of finding friends.

How has your education benefitted your position at Faithlife?
My education gave me a great foundation on which to build my career. The computer science courses were well designed and gave me plenty of opportunity to learn to think critically. When I was attending, Dr. Baas, Dr. Tevis, and Dr. Rouse were the three professors I spent the most time with. Concepts I learned from classes like Analysis of Algorithms and Operating Systems helped provide a great foundation for understanding modern computing and writing great software.

Was there a particular person who was influential during your time at LETU?
Dr. Baas is one of the professors who made a significant impact on me during my time there. His commitment to helping students learn in the style that works best for them made such a difference in my education. For example, I had the chance to do a self-study iPhone development course with him when I was there. Within a semester, I wrote and shipped an app to help other students find their way around campus and check the campus schedule for upcoming events. I probably wouldn’t have had that chance if it wasn’t for professors like Dr. Baas who are dedicated to helping computer science students in their pursuits.

What advice do you have for a current LETU computer science student or someone considering computer science? 
Current students: Apply now for software development internships; don’t wait! We have summer internships at Faithlife - message me on Twitter (@dustinsoftware) or send me an email (dustin@dustinsoftware.com) if you’re interested. Also, come up with an idea for a software project you can do on your own and show off your work! Programming is a lot of fun - share your creations with others and learn from them.

Future students: Now is a great time to become a CS major. If you are at all interested in computers and are unsure about the CS major, take an intro-level programming course! Even if you don’t become a major, you’ll have a good understanding for what powers more and more of our world today. 

How did your time at LETU affect your spiritual growth? 
A lot of my spiritual growth was through talking with the school staff and getting to know my peers. Also, having little restrictions with how I could spend my evening and weekend time meant that I had to be intentional about devotions, going to church, and prayer. 

Do you have a favorite memory of friendships that you made during your time at LETU?
There are too many to count - the friendships I’ve made from living on campus continue to this day. One of my favorites was when enough snow appeared in February of 2011 that class was cancelled. A giant snowball fight ensued in front of my dorm, Mabee 1, the best dorm ever. I ended up building a snowman and using CD’s for the eyes. That was also the first date I went on with my wife, so that’s a special memory for me.