Featured on Jun 30, 2011
"Relax, don't worry, have a homebrew."
I'm the Senior Engineer at the online fitness game Fitocracy.com. When I'm not working, I'm usually outside. I love trail running, backpacking, water skiing, and sailing. In January, I finished my first sub-4 hour marathon! I am originally from Texas, where I was an avid homebrewer and couchsurfing host. Hopefully, I'll eventually be able to get a place in NYC with enough room that I can start brewing beer and hosting again.
- Title: Senior Engineer, Fitocracy.com
- Age: 26
- Location: Brooklyn, Park Slope
- Contact: facebook
As a Senior Engineer, what kinds of things do you get to work on for Fitocracy on a daily basis? Does it relate much to your studies in Chemical Engineering at University of Texas?
Right now we are building out the content capabilities of the game. Fitocracy is unifying all of the different genres of fitness (lifting, cardio, sports, etc.) into one scoring engine, which has been quite a challenge! I mean, how will the points you get for running compare against points you get for squats? It's a balancing act that requires quite a bit of math to get just right. Even though this is a game, the real-world nature of the game play means people physically feel the effort they put into their activities, and we are building our system to reward that effort correctly and fairly.
Next, I will be working on data analysis and visualization. This is where my engineering background really comes in handy. In my previous engineering work, I was reducing huge technical data sets so they were easily presented to and understood by non-technical clients and regulators. This kind of data reduction and visualization carries over into Fitocracy fitness tracking. So far, our users have recorded over a million sets of activities. We will be able to analyze, present, and give feedback from input data so the user can make their fitness program more fun and effective.
On a higher level, we will be studying real-world trends in people's fitness habits, which will give us a unique insight into how people are motivated to get fit. I'm really excited to see what we can learn from such a large, comprehensive fitness data set, but it will take a lot of statistics to get there.
What do you do to keep active in NYC where there’s not a lot of space to go backpacking/waterskiiing/sailing?
Ha, you're right that there isn't a lot of backcountry in NYC. However, I am part of running club that does scavenger hunt-style runs through the city. At the start you just show up and have no idea where you're going, then follow marks on the ground to lead you to the finish. It's a great way to explore new areas and break up the grind of street running.
What is the best part about hosting for couchsurfers? Have you surfed other people’s couches? If so, where?
The best part is meeting people who you would have never talked to before. I've hosted Americans, Europeans, and even one guy from Afghanistan! I would have otherwise never had the opportunity to hang out and chat people from all over the world. The best place I've surfed was in Zürich, Switzerland. Our host was an airline pilot who had a flat with a balcony that overlooked the entire city. She was very friendly, and the view was amazing!
How did you get into homebrewing? What was the best thing you’ve brewed to date?
I used to hang out with one of my friends from Texas who was a veteran brewer. He is actually opening up his own microbrewery this year! I learned the ins and outs of homebrewing from him and began brewing on my own. I've really taken a liking to wheat beers, and my favorite to date is a weizenbock (a stronger, darker wheat beer).