I was born in Savannah Georgia where I attended Saint James Elementary School and Benedictine Military High School. I moved to Atlanta in 1983 to attend Georgia Tech. I was a co-op student at Georgia Tech where I earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering in 1989. I earned a Master’s degree in electrical engineering in 1996 while working full time. I specialized in digital signal processing and computer architecture.
I became interested with software development in high school and have pursued that interest ever since. My career has focused on large-scale software development in C++, however I have also done some work in Java and C#.
I married my wife Teresa in 1995. We have two children: Kyle and Nicole.
We currently live in Marietta, Georgia (a suburb of Atlanta).
My hobbies include camping, canoeing, hiking, kayaking, and bushcraft.
I struggled in grade school. My earliest memories of school are memories of failure. I remember not being able to write my name in kindergarten and the teacher making a big deal about it. I remember crying and feeling different than the other kids. In first grade, I remember not being able to read or spell as well as the other kids. I remember there was poster near the door where the teacher would put stars by your name when you received an A on a spelling test. As the school year progressed the other kids got stars. Many got a star every week. I never got stars. Most of the other kids had dozens of stars by the name toward the end of the year. I hated that damn poster. I had to walk by it every time I left the room. I had to force myself to ignore it as best I could.
Not only was I a poor speller and reader, but I do did not fit in socially. During recess, I would sit by myself and study ants or blades of grass or leaves. I could not relate to the other kids who ran around the school yard chasing each other.
In addition to being socially inept, a poor speller, and the slowest reader in the class, I also failed at sports. I was a skinny little kid. I was uncoordinated and could not keep up with the other kids when we had to run around the field during PE class. I was failing to thrive.
But through it all, the teachers and my mom kept telling me I was smart. I wanted to believe it. I told myself it was true, but I also wondered if they were telling me that to keep my spirits up. I did manage to make decent grades in science class, which gave me hope. In about the third grade I was diagnosed with dyslexia. (I now realize that I also had Asperger’s Syndrome and exertional asthma, neither of which was ever formally diagnosed.) I attended special classes for several years. I am not sure the classes helped, but it did give me hope that I was actually intelligent and had a condition that I could eventually overcome.
Reading and writing was so hard for me that I got tired of working so hard at it. In the fifth grade I went through a period when I would write random words in the workbooks so that I could keep up with the expected pace. One day my teacher inspected my workbook. I thought I was going to be in a lot of trouble once she saw that I had been filling in random words for weeks. She looked through the pages and instead of getting angry, she got a concerned look on her face. She knew I went to special classes for dyslexia. Now she thought I was a complete idiot. She pitied me. I hated being thought of a dumb. I knew I was not dumb. That incident motivated me to start working hard again.
Things improved slowly from fifth grade until eighth grade as I worked very hard to try to keep up. Then one day in eighth grade, my life took a turn. In science class (my favorite subject) we started learning about DNA. I saw DNA spelled out on the page: deoxyribonucleic acid. Then a thought jumped into my head. I thought that if I could learn to spell that word, I could learn to spell any word. Over the next few days I memorized how to spell it. I do not remember even telling anyone. But I knew I could spell it. My life and attitude started to change. Shortly thereafter, I decided that I would dedicate myself to doing as well as I could on the next spelling/vocabulary test.
I studied for the test during any free moment. I studied constantly. When I took the test, I knew I had done well. During lunch, while Mr. Heart was grading the tests he called my over to his desk. He told me he was grading my test. He asked if I knew why he called me over. I said “You probably think I cheated.” He asked if I had cheated. I said no, I just studied as hard as I could. He said I had done a good job and congratulated me.
The next day before handing out the graded papers he gave a speech. He said that there was a student in the class that always struggled in spelling. He said that this student had worked very hard and had done very well on the test. He said that this student was a great example of what could be accomplished through hard work. He said that student was Scott Smith and he earned a 98 on the test. There were audible gaps in the room. My classmates were shocked. I think it might have been the first time in my life that I had received an A on a test.
After getting an A on the test, I realized I could do as well as anyone else if I just worked hard enough. I worked very hard from then on. I somehow scored well enough on the high school placement exam to be places in the top academic group. I kept working hard. I was fortunate to be selected to participate in the Savannah Science Seminar based on the results of a competitive test. I received a special academic award for the highest average in Physics my senior year in high school. Upon taking the SAT the second time, I somehow managed to get 720 out of 800 on the math section. My verbal score was mediocre, but not terrible. I was accepted at Georgia Tech (the only college I ever applied to).
I loved science, but knew that I needed a profession that would guarantee me a good job when I graduated from college. I picked Electrical Engineering which happened to be one of the hardest majors at Georgia Tech. I was a co-op student. I worked every other quarter. It took me six years of hard work to get through Georgia Tech. But by that time I was very accustomed to working hard. I had worked very hard since the fifth grade just to try to keep up.
While going to Georgia Tech I began lifting weights. I had been interested in bodybuilding since the first time I saw a bodybuilding competition on Wild World of Sports as a child. I bought bodybuilding magazines and wished that I was as big and strong as Arnold Schwarzenegger. My senior year at Georgia Tech I competed in the Mr. Yellow Jacket bodybuilding contest and won in the novice category.
After earning my bachelor’s degree, I took a job and began working on my Master’s degree part time. I think the primary reason I wanted to earn a master’s degree was to prove that the bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering was not a fluke. I still had a huge chip on my shoulder. I was still proving that I was not dumb. I earned my master’s degree in electrical engineering from Georgia Tech while working full time. It took me six years to earn my master’s degree, since I was doing it part time. It was a lot of work, but I was used to hard work. In 1996 at the age of 31 I earned my master’s degree in electrical engineering from Georgia Tech and I was done with school. I had proved my point.
More to come….