Elias obtained his CS degree from Grinnell College, a tiny little school in Iowa. He initially intended on majoring in physics but realized that he didn’t find physics jokes funny. In contrast, he took to programmer humor immediately. Elias is passionate about programming language design and theory and wants to explore how engineers can better use programming language concepts to build excellent software. When he isn’t endlessly tweaking linux configs, Elias enjoys sweaters, long books, and board games with friends.

Read on to learn more about our newest Mojo!

Elias Mulhall, Developer at MojoTech

1. Where’d you get educated and/or what jobs led you to your new job at MojoTech?

As it says in my bio, I just finished up undergrad at Grinnell College. After years in the Midwest, I’ve finally fled to Providence to escape from the endless fields of corn.

2. Before your life at MojoTech, what was the most interesting project you ever worked on?

Last summer I was a research assistant in the PLASMA lab at UMass Amherst. I worked on improving the compiler for NetKAT, a domain specific programming language for configuring software-defined networks. I spent the summer jumping between high-level functional programming, analyzing network packets, and worrying about bitmask specifications. It was a lot to learn!

3. What do you enjoy most/least about engineering?

Most: Finding elegant solutions to complicated problems. I know I’ve done my job right when a feature not only improves the user’s experience, but makes the job of other developers easier.

Least: Computers. They’re obstinate, malicious, and the systems we’ve designed to communicate with them are inefficient at best.

4. What personal characteristics do you feel are necessary to be a successful engineer?

Strong communication skills, diligence, and humility.

5. What do you get out of engineering that you couldn’t get from any other kind of work?

I love to build, so programming is like getting to play with a giant box of super lego. Engineering provides purpose for that passion, challenging me to design towards a specific goal and audience. I’m here for the challenge, but I’ll stay for the results.

6. Describe a time when you confronted a problem that really tested your engineering know-how.

In my last semester of undergrad I took an “interdisciplinary video game design” class. I joined a team tasked with designing and building a (fun!) game about applying statistical modeling to cure an imaginary epidemic. I was put in charge of the high-level architecture of the project, and helped my teammates incorporate all the components of design, statistical simulation, and engineering into a working game.

7. Now that you’re at MojoTech, what are you most excited about?

Working with talented people, challenging myself to grow as an engineer.

8. Which professionals do you turn to or what blogs do you read for inspiration?

For general news I hang around Hacker News and Lobste.rs. For more academic (usually programming language related) content I read Lambda the Ultimate and some blogs. To find out about people who make cool things I follow The Setup.

9. You’ve been banished to a deserted island with—gasp—no wifi, but lots of power outlets. What one piece of technology would you bring?

I would bring a car door. That way if I get hot I could roll down the window!
Otherwise I suppose I would want a radio — the radio would have to be powerful enough to contact people off island, but simple enough that I might be able to fix it if it broke.

10. What technology is going to take over the world next?

I recently got to spend an evening playing with an HTC Vive. I got the distinct impression that VR will be a big deal at some point in the future, but far enough in the future that I’ll be too old to really “get it.” I’ll still be using a 2D screen and physical keyboard, and kids will treat me like I never got past texting on a flip phone. Also, boy howdy, I am looking forward to self-driving cars.

11. If you weren’t an engineer, what occupation would you choose?

If I weren’t a software engineer I would probably be a mechanical engineer. If I got to choose my occupation with absolutely no regard to viability, job security, or my innate talents, I would want to be an avant-garde game designer.

12. What is your idea of happiness?

Spending time with and taking care of my loved ones, tinkering with fun projects, and collecting a big library of books and board games.

13. The red pill or the blue pill?

As a rule I don’t accept meds from strangers in trench coats, not even when it’s Cowboy Curtis. So I’ll pass, thanks.