Each month, get to know the people behind the content and features at Linux Academy. For the month of April and our first employee spotlight, meet Course Author Brandon McWilliams! Brandon just launched the much-requested Certified Jenkins Engineer course and was part of the recent live Q&A with the DevOps team.
1. What do you do at Linux Academy?
I’m a course author on the DevOps/Linux content team at Linux Academy. I’ve been on the team since mid-January 2017.
2. What did you do before this?
I went to the University of Oklahoma for degrees in MIS and Environmental Sustainability. My MIS coursework, along with some independent courses/study, helped form my foundation in programming and the SDLC.
I interned at a small consulting shop in my college town for my first IT job. It turned into a full-time position when I graduated. It was a great, yet challenging, experience. It was a super-sysadmin environment, where little was automated and everything fell on the actions of the two IT guys. We were always on call. I learned how intentional design and DevOps practices could be immensely beneficial in IT.
I moved into corporate IT for my next position. It was here where I got my start in DevOps tools, like Puppet, Jenkins and OpenStack. I got to work with and learn from some amazing people there over the years, working in Infrastructural IT and Product Development.
3. What do you do in your free time?
I love tinkering in general, both high-tech and low-tech. I’ve got multiple Raspberry Pi’s going; running Plex and RetroPie. I’m thinking about doing a Pi-powered chicken coop (and maybe garden) soon (keep an eye out for a Linux Academy blog post!).
Learning Web Development has become a hobby. My wife’s in an awesome code school in Downtown Denver, and she comes home and teaches me what she’s learned every day. I’m learning React and Redux with her now.
I’m really into sustainability. My wife and I dense packed the walls in my house with cellulose insulation. We’ve got a whole-house fan instead of Central AC. I may get that thing under Pi control too eventually. My big project this Spring is a new metal roof. Asphalt shingles are pretty terrible for the environment. The reflective nature of the metal roof also keeps the house nice and cool.
I’ve taken up woodworking fairly recently. I’ve built a king-sized bed, a deck, and a built-in wall desk in the office over the last year. It’s really fun, and makes for a nice break from the keyboard from time to time.
Other than that, we love to hang at local breweries, travel (ask me about Thailand) and hitting the dog park with our pup, Jeffrey LeBarkski (aka The Dude).
4. What’s something you’re really excited about right now?
I’m really excited to learn about DevOps concepts that I didn’t get the opportunity to implement in my previous positions; for instance, microservices and related tools like Docker, Kubernetes, and Consul/Nomad. Also, being a Puppet guy, I’m interested in learning more about what the other config management systems have to offer.
5. What’s your favorite part of working here?
I have a couple of favorites. First, I love helping people. To be able to enrich the lives of our students with this platform is amazing. We can reach so many people. I’d never have that opportunity in a traditional IT gig. It’s so nice to work for a company with such a people-first mission.
Second, I love learning. It’s not only our mission to teach, but to learn as well. I get to constantly pursue learning opportunities as well as learn from all of these super knowledgable instructors along with our students. It’s a very cool group of people to work with too.
6. If you could have any superpower, what would it be, and why?
My superpower comes from a really obscure (and amazingly bad) movie from the 90’s, Meteor Man. After being struck by a meteor, Meteor Man can touch a book and then instantly know everything in it. I’d want to update it for the present though, so I could consume doc/wiki pages too.