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Working in Mars Mission Control, JPL

Ronald Mak

Department of Computer Engineering
Summer 2017

Office location: ENG 250
Mission Control, Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL)
NASA Mars Exploration Rover Mission

Click on the courses I'm teaching this semester:

CMPE/SE 180-38: Database Systems Workshop

Courses I taught last spring semester:

CMPE/SE 131-03: Software Engineering I

CMPE 152-04: Compiler Design
CMPE 152-05: Compiler Design Lab

CMPE/SE 180-92: Data Structures and Algorithms in C++

CMPE 226-01: Database Systems

Who am I?

I was a Senior Computer Scientist at the NASA Ames Research Center, where I designed and managed the building of the Spacecraft System Integration Laboratory (SSIL) for the simulation of CubeSats orbiting in cluster formations. We installed Emulab locally in order to dynamically provision users with advanced graphics servers and up to 400 virtual machines in arbitrary network configurations. On an earlier mission, I designed and led the development of the middleware for a key information management system for NASA's Mars Exploration Rover (MER) mission. I also wrote software for the new Orion spacecraft that will take astronauts to Mars.

As a Research Staff Member at the IBM Almaden Research Center in San Jose, I helped implement the Splash software platform that integrated multiple heterogeneous simulation, statistical, and data models in order to research the nation's obesity problem. This data science work earned a U.S. patent. I was the Enterprise Software Strategist at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory for a major laser-based fusion energy project, the National Ignition Facility (NIF), where I helped design and develop a workflow system to consolidate and manage the scientific data generated by the laser firings. I've worked at high-tech companies such as Hewlett-Packard, Sun Microsystems, and Apple as a software developer, project lead, and engineering manager.

I am the consulting Chief Data Scientist at IDXP, a data analytics startup.

I have degrees in the Mathematical Sciences and in Computer Science from Stanford University. Two of my three physics professors had Nobel prizes. But despite having done work that required taking the Theory of Relativity into account, I'm still amazed that the sun comes up each morning and that bicycles don't tip over.

I've written books on compiler writing, software engineering, and numerical computation, and I contributed a chapter to the book Beautiful Code which won the Jolt Award. I find designing and developing software such as compilers and enterprise systems to be fun and challenging. So I'm the kind of geek nobody wants to talk to at parties. My one redeeming feature is that I am owned by cute cats.

Other courses I've recently taught at SJSU
CS/SE 46B: Introduction to Data Structures
CS/SE 146: Data Structures and Algorithms
CS/SE 149: Operating Systems
CS 151: Object-Oriented Design
CS/SE 152: Programming Language Paradigms
CS/SE 154: Formal Languages and Computability
CS/SE 157B: Database Management Systems II
CS/SE 174: Web Programming
CS 185C/CS 286: The History of Computing
CS 235: User Interface Design
Please visit: CS 235 Data Visualization Projects
The History of Computing Speaker Series
Please visit: Recorded talks online