Meet the Engineer: Cameron Wood

When it comes to the distance to one's home country, my colleague Cameron Wood holds the record in our Berlin office at data Artisans. After coming all the way from “down under”, he is working on making a zoo of stream processing applications easily manageable for companies with dA platform and Apache Flink in its core. While being part of the dA platform team, Cameron is not only a smart but also a pleasant, sociable colleague. I hope you enjoy learning more about him!

What do you work on at data Artisans?

I predominantly work on data Artisan’s product called dA Platform that we offer as a complementary addition to Apache Flink. We recently released the first version of the product and are busy iterating on new features. I’m also currently working on some test automation to provide Jepsen (systems verification, fault injection, etc.) testing for Apache Flink. This is a really interesting problem to work on, as performing these kinds of verification testing is really crucial to validating the guarantees that Apache Flink has around consistency and exactly once semantics. It will also assist with making the project more accessible to outside contributors going forward, as we’ll be able to have stronger confidence in accepting changes to core components because we have faith in the robust testing apparatus we’re creating to validate correctness.

What do you enjoy about your job?

The people I work with and the company culture. Everyone is genuinely nice, very easy to get along with, and we have a very humble and inclusive culture. Then add to that the open source nature of our work, and that we get paid to help further a great project like Apache Flink, and it’s a natural win-win for everyone. I feel very lucky to be a part of this team.

Are you a contributor or committer to any Apache projects? If so, which ones?

Not currently, although I have made some small contributions to various OSS projects over the years, but by chance this didn’t include any Apache projects previously. That is quickly changing with Flink though, since working at data Artisans makes that quite easy and not a matter of “if” but “when”.

What do you like about Apache Flink?

It’s powerful while being flexible/expressive, but not being too opinionated or prescriptive about how you use it. The proof of this is the widespread adoption you can see of Apache Flink by some of the biggest tech companies in the world and many major financial institutions, and that number is only growing, a further testament to the strengths of Apache Flink.

What is your advice for someone who is interested in participating in any open source project for the first time?

Don’t be afraid or put off from making your first steps. Look for contribution guidelines, or maybe the project you’re interested in has a first contribution helper document or something similar. If they don’t, another great idea is asking in the forums or chat about where you should get started. Some projects are even nice enough to maintain lists of feature requests, bugs, and pull-requests that are suitable for first time contributors, or are better suited for people interested in a particular aspect of a project, etc.

How did you get into programming?

I fell in love with computers playing with my father’s Amiga 500, and decided soon after that I wanted to work with computers for a living. I didn’t do a lot of programming until later in high school though, and later when I studied Computer Science at University, by which time I had gone all in.

Who’s your favorite famous person and why?
There are so many great scientists throughout history, but I’ve always thought so highly of Stephen Hawking. His numerous contributions to the theory of General Relativity and to better understanding Black Holes, culminating in Hawking Radiation, which predicts that black holes emit a kind of radiation from near the event horizon. There are undoubtedly other scientists who have had a larger impact on science, but most didn’t have the impact of making it as accessible to the general public as Hawking was able to with the numerous books he published on the subject, except maybe Richard Feynman who I’m also quite fond of. There’s something quite intriguing and exciting about learning about the science of the origin and development of the universe as we know it.

Where are you from? 
I’m originally from Melbourne, Australia, but I moved to Sydney to go to University and decided I liked it there better and stayed until I moved to Berlin a couple years ago. When I was a kid, my friends parents owned a Hotel, and on the weekends we would get up early and go downstairs to play pool before they opened. I’m really fond of those memories, and I still play a pretty decent game of pool.

What’s something that most people don’t know about you?

I played competitive Ice Hockey and Snooker when I was younger. Playing Ice Hockey in Australia can be a bit difficult at times, there aren’t many ice rinks to choose from, but there’s a handful in the major cities. And since I was a boy being interested in Pool, I later got interested in Snooker, and played competitively for a few years in one of the amateur leagues in Sydney.

What keeps you interested in Open Source Software and the free software movement?
My first exposure to Open Source Software was through Pidgin (a messaging client, formerly called Gaim), and then shortly after I stumbled onto Linux, and went down that rabbit hole and never looked back. I’ve been using Linux on the desktop for about ~15 years now, and wouldn’t have it any other way. Open Source Software really resonates with me. The idea of freely sharing solutions to common problems, and being able to in turn get the help of others working on a common problem, it just makes sense. The fact that we are seeing more and more great Open Source Software projects emerge, and for the truly successful ones, commercial companies that can extend/service commercial needs around that software is a great example that the model really works. Just look at some recent technologies that have emerged through this process like Docker, Hashicorp, Heptio, Elastic, and data Artisans, to name just a few. It’s also really cool that you can work on these Open Source Software projects and have your contributions publicly outlive your employment with any one company. Decades later your contributions might still be in use by thousands or even millions of people, that’s a really awesome impact and potential to have.

Cameron Wood
You can follow Cameron on Twitter @cewood, Github, and LinkedIn

We’re hiring! Check out the data Artisans careers page to learn about open positions. We have roles based in our Berlin office as well as in the U.S.

Tags: Meet The Engineer