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Coffee with Corbin

Ed. Note: One of the most wonderful aspects of life at the OSU Open Source Lab is our ability to provide OSU students with challenging, hands-on work as software developers, systems administrators and writers. This week we're featuring an interview with one of our student developers, Corbin Simpson, interviewed by our student writer, Anthony Casson. Stay tuned for more interviews with our students in the coming weeks.

Anthony Casson and Corbin Simpson at the OSL

Corbin Simpson is one of the Open Source Lab’s veteran student developers. Born and raised in Eugene, Oregon, Corbin didn’t discover the OSL until he was already at Oregon State University. He has since dedicated much of his time to OSL projects as a part-time developer. Corbin spoke about his time with the department thus far.

What are you currently studying, and have you ever changed majors?

I'm currently declared as a double major, with music/piano studies and CS/computer systems. I added music a couple years ago, since it's been something I've done all my life and wanted to keep studying. I'm debating changing my major to music only, as it would let me graduate sooner. I'm very far behind in my CS degree.

How important is music in your life?

I’ve been in music for most of my life – almost two decades now. It’s something I still do, but musicians have a day job and a night job. The day job is never music. Musicians get used to having two jobs, and they might not necessarily enjoy their day job. I happen to really enjoy my day job.

When did you start working for the OSL?

I was brought on about a year ago. Peter Krenesky, Lance Albertson, and I were having lunch at a conference — must have been LinuxCon or the Linux Plumbers Conference, but I'm not sure — and Lance mentioned that I knew Python. At that point, Peter started talking to me about Pydra, and after a month or so of more talking, we signed everything and I came on board.

Did you know about the OSL when you came to OSU?

Yes, although I didn't know how big it was or how much development went on. I wasn't aware of the student developers at all until I started talking to (people associated with the department).

What was attractive about working at the OSL?

Everything, really. It's easily one of the best student jobs on campus. Flexible hours, friendly coworkers, and a massive gold star on one's resume.

What’s your current job? How long have you held the position?

My title, I think, is "student developer." I keep on hearing "Python guru," but I don't think I'm guru-level. I've been at this position since I started.

What’s the best part of your job?

Getting paid to hack, I think. This is really the first time in my life that I've been paid for it, and the feeling's absolutely wonderful.

What’s the hardest part of your job?

There's a lot of thinking involved. Somebody said that hacking is 90-percent percolation and prep time, and I'm inclined to agree. Work tends to follow me home sometimes, just because I can't stop thinking about it. During Pydra (a Python computing framework project), I was actually having dreams about code! It's something that really pervades one's mindset.

How many hours per week do you work at the OSL, and has it been difficult to handle with school?

I work 20 hours per week during classes, 40 hours per week during breaks. My work at the OSL tends to be more enjoyable than schoolwork.

Why do you love writing code?

When I talk about writing code, what I mean is I’m very good at thinking about a problem and then solving it, and then verifying my solutions. For example, I have the mother of all Rubik’s Cubes. It’s a 7-by-7, and I just picked this up out of my box of Rubik’s Cubes on my way out the door. It’s not something I do to show off or boast, ‘Hey, I can do this’. It’s because I genuinely enjoy meditating on and thinking about solving it. And the same thing goes to code. It lets me exercise my abilities.

Many thanks to Anthony and Corbin for this interview!

See our news archive for other OSUOSL news stories.