Meet Chris Wilcox!
Chris Wilcox is our Principal Engineer, Embedded Software. Chris actively works on developing a clean and enjoyable sharing experience through streaming optimization on the back-end. Learn more about Chris below.
What is your role at Mersive and what do you do?
I’m a long-time system programmer, so I tend to reside in the C++ code on the Solstice Pod. For example, I’ve spent lots of time on the Active Learning infrastructure and Miracast sharing. Occasionally I put my hand in client-side code, such as the accelerated encoding pipeline, but definitely still system-level. My exposure to user interfaces and web-based technologies like React has been very limited, and there’s a reason for that! And I’ve never had anything to do with our Cloud solution.
What has your experience been with our company culture?
We hear lots about working independently and being self-reliant here, but I’ve pretty much ignored that during my time at Mersive. I prefer the collaboration model, for problem solving, developing new things, and for the training benefits of working with a more experienced engineer. In other words I need lots of help! And my experience with Mersive is that the engineering team has been very supportive throughout.
What is your team like?
We’ve more or less arrived at a single Solstice core team with about 15 engineers in attendance at our standup meeting every morning. Even so, we seem to make it work very well, and from my point of view it’s good because I get to work with lots of different people. Though I still depend on the stalwarts of Solstice that have more extensive experience; you know who you are.
How have you grown professionally while working at Mersive?
That’s a long list – where to start? I had never written code for an Android device, so I had no familiarity with the Android operating system or applications. I had never written anything in Qt, now I use QtCreator all the time to write small applications. I had never implemented a RESTful API using a meta-language like YAML. I had done some functional language programming, but never Rust. (But I won’t claim expertise there). Not to mention all the third-party software and development tools in use here.
What advice do you have for prospective Mersive candidates?
Besides the obvious thing about taking initiative, there are several other ways to get up to speed. First, become very familiar with all of the product features so you understand what people are talking about. Become a user. Second, cultivate the ability to write small Android programs, so you can test out things before doing the work to integrate with the Solstice server. The same is useful for client programs; I wrote and verified a Qt prototype of pixel scraping and the accelerated pipeline before trying to put it into Solstice, which saved a huge amount of time. Though React might be a better language choice given our current direction. And definitely don’t be shy about asking for help or working with someone who’s been around longer than you have. And finally, when you’re writing code, test it exhaustively yourself, before it goes to QA.
Before working at Mersive, what was the most unusual or interesting job you had?
I had two careers, both of which were fascinating. I saw the development of the original computer graphics products at Evans and Sutherland, and later worked for other workstation/PC graphics companies including 3dfx and Nvidia. Later on I went back to school at CSU and ended up as a teaching faculty there for 7 or 8 years, before coming here.
What are three words to best describe you?
Absent-minded, inquisitive, and I try to be completely honest.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
Whitewater kayaking, backcountry skiing, and mountain biking. Or really anything outdoors.
What has been the most important innovation you have witnessed in your lifetime?
Even with all of the other technological advancements (fast computers, digital cameras, cell phones), the Internet stands out as the most significant development. It’s changed everything about this profession. And it’s changed everyday life and society, mostly (but not exclusively) for the better.
What would you most like to tell yourself at age 13?
Don’t worry about what other people think, it’s okay to be smart, don’t be afraid to ask questions.
If you could have an unlimited supply of one thing, what would it be?
Energy and good health.
What is one random fact you could share with us?
Some of my kayak partners think that I’m upside down in my kayak more than is normal or healthy. I completely disagree.
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