Brad Thompson

I'm a software & information systems engineer based out of West Lafayette, Indiana. I'm all about using technology to help people communicate and work together more effectively and efficiently. My specialties include full-stack web development with Ruby & Javascript, Linux system administration, and information system / business process design.

Outside of my day job, I spend a lot of time working with young people. I'm a dedicated mentor and supporter of FIRST Robotics in my community and across the state of Indiana, and I'm always looking for new ways to help kids to build their skills and discover their path to a healthy, fulfilling life.

Current Work

Software & Systems Engineer

I oversee and support most of the company's internal IT infrastructure, lead development for our Sinatra + Vue.js internal business process portal application & our Ruby on Rails-based e-commerce platform, and oversee software development and IT interns.

Co-Executive Director

I interface with our parent board and program leadership to keep all of the West Lafayette school system's FIRST Robotics programs and related activities funded and operating. I also oversee the adult & college student volunteers that work with our programs.

FRC Team Lead Mentor

My primary job is making sure the 10 mentors and 30 high school students on our FIRST Robotics Competition team have the resources they need to keep our program running. I spend a lot of time working with the team's student officers and functional group leaders to set goals, manage projects, and keep students engaged. I also do a lot of the travel and logistics planning for our competitions and other events. Additionally, I work directly with students on a variety of software, media, and community engagement projects.

FTC Team Mentor

I help our 15 7th & 8th grade FIRST Tech Challenge students learn the basics of Java and how to program robots. I also help the students prepare their Engineering Notebooks and presentations for judging at competitions.

FLL Team Coordinator

I recruit, train, schedule, and support our crew of volunteer FIRST LEGO League team coaches, supporting 4 teams with about 30 total 4th-6th grade students.

Webmaster & Media/PR Committee Member

I coordinate with organization leadership to keep our website up to date. I also create graphics, write software, and provide general technical advice to people throughout the Indiana FIRST community.

FTC Planning Committee Member

I work with the Indiana FTC Program Delivery Partner and other people from across the state to plan out the FIRST Tech Challenge competition season and help grow and support teams across Indiana.

Event Volunteer

I've worn a lot of hats at FRC, FTC, and FLL events over the past 10 years. I now mostly work as the AV/Event Production Director or in related support roles, and I also serve as a Judge at local FLL & FTC events.

Advisory Committee Co-Chair

I help advise the executive board and organization leadership to keep this 50-member student organization on the right track. I also help lead a small group of alums and other members of the FIRST community to plan and arrange guest speakers for the Purdue FIRST Programs class.

Purdue FIRST Forums Planning Team

I work with the Purdue FIRST event planning team and the FIRST Indiana Robotics Mentor Training Committee to plan and schedule presentations for the annual Purdue FIRST Forums, a conference-style event that brings 600+ students & mentors from across the state to campus to learn about all things FIRST.

Athletics Technology Specialist

I work with coaches and other athletics staff to find or develop tools to meet their video and technology needs. I also help run the football team's video recording system, manage content for and operate the videoboard system I developed for events in the high school gymnasium, and occasionally jump in as scoreboard/clock operator at basketball & football games.

Previous Work

Web Developer

I developed web-based tools to support various departmental operations, worked with PR & marketing staff across campus to maintain the school's web & social media properties, helped faculty members build & maintain their research lab websites, and dispensed bits of software, electronics, and general technology advice to students & staff.

Technology Specialist & Teacher

I did pretty much everything IT, from web development and Linux server administration to desktop support and educational technology integration consulting. I also taught Programming I & Tech Support classes.

Education & Academic Interests

Bachelor of Science, Computer Science, awarded May 2013
minor in History, focused coursework in security & databases
3.29 overall, 3.40 major GPA

These days, I'm much more interested in learning about kids & communities than hard technical topics!

My primary area of interest is how kids develop their identities and how family members, coaches, teachers, mentors, & community leaders can be a positive influence on that process. I'm particularly interested in how this plays out for gifted & twice exceptional kids. I'm also interested in formal & informal rites of passage and how these events can help reinforce cultural values & impact how young people think about themselves.

Additionally, I'm interested in the decline of small-town America & the rural brain drain problem. I come from a small town in a fairly rural area, and I've watched from a distance as businesses have closed or relocated, schools have lost resources or shut down entirely, and the community in general seems to be on an accelerating downhill trajectory - a pattern that seems to be prevalent across much of small-town America. I want to dig in to why this is happening, examine current interventions to determine if they're actually making an impact, and help advocate for and provide resources & guidance to help strengthen these struggling communities.

Mostly in relation to those two areas, I'm also interested in how American ideals of masculinity have evolved, particularly throughout the 20th & 21st centuries, how these characteristics are communicated through families, communities, & the media, and how these sometimes conflicting ideas impact young men as they grow up.

Other areas of interest include social/emotional learning, alternative educational settings & strategies, effective group communication & information sharing practices within small, mostly self-organizing communities (clubs, small non-profits, churches, robotics teams, ...), institutional space planning & design, computer science education, privacy-preserving communications technology, and distributed data storage & processing systems.

Presentations

2019 Purdue FIRST Forums
2019 IU FIRST Forums
2019 IU FIRST Forums
2016 Purdue FIRST Forums
2015 Space Jamboree
bkt at brad-thompson dot com
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