Deep in the dark recesses of Chauvenet Hall lies the office of Yong Bakos. Owner of a software development company, part time jazz and reggae musician, and full-time Apple product fanatic, Bakos could be described as a very well-rounded instructor. This will be Bakos’ fourth year at Mines, though he taught previously at Colorado Free University as well as working professionally as a development trainer.
When asked about his choice to teach at Mines, Bakos explained it had long been a dream of his, “I didn’t choose it, teaching in general was always something I wanted to do when I was young, but it was always a long-term thing to do when I became old and stodgy… and, uh, the opportunity just presented itself early and forced me into early retirement.”
Early retirement may not be quite the right description, as Bakos also continues to run his software business. Based in Denver, Human-Oriented Systems is “an entirely separate full-time job in itself.” When asked if he might be working on the next “Facebook killer” or perhaps a “Blackboard killer,” Bakos replied, “No, because they are already both dead. They just don’t know it yet…” Bakos then went on to describe some of his actual research interests in more detail.
He said, “[M]y main area of development research is creating a new operating system. Or, I should say, creating a new interface on top of existing operating systems that tackle the new modern challenges that we have with interconnected computing systems. So, that includes things like blurring a line between what information is stored locally versus what is stored remotely in the cloud.”
Asked about his other experiences as a software developer and consultant, Bakos described one of the his more memorable experiences, saying, “The most interesting customer I’ve ever had was a company I won’t name based right here, north of Denver. The company’s owner loved to shout. He would fly to Russia on a moment’s notice to see the outsourced developers and he really micromanaged the products. He micromanaged to the point that they were completely futile, but he was unable to see why. So, he just shouted about it more and nothing ever really got done. So what I learned was that sometimes yelling gets things done, but usually not.”
When asked about his time spent outside of teaching, Bakos claims his activities include, “…scheming on how to manipulate [students’] minds further. I’ve also been working on my jazz repetoire. Uh, huh, and reggae! I’ve actually been working on reggae as well.”
Bakos finished with some advice for Computer Science majors that could positively impact those from other majors as well, “My advice would be to really seek out an idea or project or problem that interests you and use software engineering as a means to fix the problem – address the problem. In other words, scratch your own itch. It’s there that you start to really understand or appreciate the value. It teaches students to really hack their problem. Also seek as much outside experience as you can.”
Bakos continued, “Really, ultimately, really believe that in someway you can be an agent for change for something you disagree with; something you don’t like. Whether that’s social, political, scientific, or whatever, don’t be afraid to dive in. Use that as a platform to learn new things. Especially now, and particularly in the field of software [where] you can make a large impact for a little cost.”