1/9/2015– Kelsey Breseman
Carlos’s face lights up as he says the names of his microcontrollers, holding them up to the screen so I can see each one: “Espruino, Netduino, EZ Robots, Tessel, of course.” Carlos Martin, or pirumpi on the Tessel forums, is thankful that he gets to write code, and states simply that programming the physical world is what everyone wants to do.
Originally a math major in his native Venezuela, Carlos came to the United States in the early 2000s for a change of political climate. He didn’t go back to school right away, and spent some time working away from computers– but over the last several years, he’s been working his way back towards the work he loves– programming and building things.
Currently, he’s a software engineer at a network security company in Colorado, as well as a couple of other jobs and the full-time role of being a father to two daughters and one boy. But at night, when the kids are asleep, he takes a few hours to make robotics projects on every kind of microcontroller he can get his hands on.
Kelsey: Can you tell me a bit about your background?
Carlos: I’ve been working as a software engineer for four years, at this security company. We do surveillance & video analytics for many chain companies in the US, Canada and the UK.
I’m originally from Venezuela, born and raised. Around 2000, I went to Central University of Venezuela, majoring in mathematics. Then this crazy government came in– you know, Chavez, and started messing with my family’s business and bank accounts. My mom got all freaked out, so we came to the United States around 2000, 2001.
When we first moved to the United States, I didn’t do much. I spent four or five years working at Disney World. But after about six years out of college, I decided to go to Westwood College, here in Colorado. They’ve got a great Associate’s degree, so I became a network engineer.
Because of that, I got a job working in IT, for a forensic accounting company in Denver. But my true passion was in math and coding, so I got really excited when I got to start this job.
I’m almost finished with my Bachelor’s degree in information security, through Colorado Technical University. I’ve only got three more classes left.
Kelsey: Why did you decide to get a Tessel?
Carlos: I’m kind of a microcontroller freak. I go on Kickstarter, or any other crowdsourcing site, anywhere people are trying to make microcontrollers. I really like them, I get so excited about it, and I want to have them all.
And then I saw Tessel. Of all of the microcontrollers, I like Tessel the most, because it’s so easy to use. You plug things together and it just works.
Kelsey: What sparked your interest in microcontrollers?
Carlos: I was always into it as a hobby. When I was around 12, I got my first computer. It was a Pentium 1, on Windows 3.1. My favorite thing to do was to take it apart. But I constantly burned the motherboard. My mom got really mad. So she decided I needed to learn to fix computers.
I was in middle school, and I worked through this certificate on computer repair. I learned how to take computers apart and fix them when I was pretty young. So from there, I started going into software and electronics. But I spent most of my time in middle school doing crazy math stuff.
I didn’t get into microcontrollers until I got to the United States, not until around 2005. I got so excited– programming electronics is the dream, for any software developer. You write code but you want to control things, physical things.
Kelsey: What’s the first thing you made on Tessel?
Carlos: The first thing that I do when I get a new microcontroller is make a webserver. I want a webpage running on every microcontroller. So the first thing that I did was this really simple webpage running on the Tessel, called tiny-router.
I wanted something like Express, but made to run on any microcontroller. I want it to be easy, and simple, and not a lot of code. I want it to run on Edison, and Espruino, everywhere. So that’s what I made.
I like to follow the technology trend, see where software is going, and microcontrollers are big right now.
Every company that I know of is trying to come out with their own version of the Internet of Things, and companies like Intel, and like you guys [Technical Machine], are making tools to let people create their own Internet of Things.
That’s why I like microcontrollers so much, they empower people who don’t have the time to make a circuit from scratch, but who have the passion and the desire to create.
I’m a busy guy, but this is what I like to do. I go to my office at home, after the kids go to sleep, close the door, and just play with electronics.