Sunday, March 21, 2010

Leaving NASA

This has been a hard post to write.

I was delighted that on January 3rd, 2005 I started my first day working for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). While I wasn't working on science efforts, I was at least contributing to the cause. In 2005 I was introduced by co-worker Chris Shenton to Python, which became my favorite programming language ever. I also learned tools like Zope, Plone, and Django. Over the past five years, I've met a lot of fascinating people in and around the agency, a list that seems endless in size and scope. That includes astronauts, scientists, engineers, developers, managers, and so much more.

This meant so much to me, and maybe because my first memories of television as a child were the moon landings of the early 1970s. I dreamed as a child of being an astronomer or astronaut, and sometimes I plot how I would redo my life to fit these dreams if I got a second childhood.

In the past year I've had some incredible opportunities present themselves to me. I've been presenting frequently on Django and Pinax. I've had the singular honor of writing course material for Holdenweb, LLC on behalf of the O'Reilly School of Technology. Representing NASA as a contractor to the Python and related communities has been both enjoyable and a great honor.

Yet all things, even good ones, must come to an end.

I've decided to become an independent consultant. My first project will be working with Revolution Systems (Jacob Kaplan-Moss and Frank Wiles) on a neat stealth project that looks very promising and once launched will help people. The project will be Python/Django/Linux based, and the client insists on accessibility, testing, and quality work. We'll be exploring the boundaries of what has been done with those tools and besides what must remain proprietary, a lot of our work will end up going back to the community. Sounds like my kind of thing!

My last day is April 1, 2010. I'm both excited to explore this new project, and saddened that my professional world for the past five years is coming to an end. Yet the overlap in technology and the participation of the NASA SMD python group in the open source world means that my work with NASA isn't coming to an end, its just transforming into something different.

Nevertheless, this is the end of an era for me.

Which is partly why I'm happy that I'll still be in touch with my fellow NASA SMD Python contractors such as Katie Cunningham, Chris Shenton, Chris Adams, James Saint-Rossy, and others. I also plan to be real friendly with the awesome Ames Research Center Python/Django/FOSS groups such as the intrepid Mark Friedenbach and the entire incredibly awesome Nebula team.

I'll miss having the pleasure of working with Leslie Cahoon, Jessy Cowan-Sharp, John Kasmark, Bob Ryan, Candace Solomon, Bill Keeter, Gamble Gilbertson, Meredith Mengel, Malik Ahmad, Jenny Mottar, Mike Brody, Virginia Butcher, Dawayne Pretlor, Michele Montgomery, Jim Consalvi,Siew Chin Hon, Hans Goetzelt, Shannon Lantzy, and many more.

Lastly, I'll miss the honor of serving civil servants such as Gretchen Davidian, Sharron Sample, and Ruth Netting and others.

8 comments:

Abe said...

Danny,

You're a true Python/Django rockstar and I'm certain you'll be missed at NASA.

At the same time, Revolution Systems will certainly benefit from your significant skills, sense of humor, and trademark cartwheels.

Best of luck in your new (stealthy) endeavor! Stay in touch with the NOVA pythonistas...

Best,
Abe

Kurt said...

Welcome to the club :) I've left NASA a number of times and manage to drift back and forth over the years. Good for cross pollination. Best of luck in the new endeavors. Hope you will still have some ability to keep blogging.

-kurt

Brandon Craig Rhodes said...

I always try to time last days to not fall on April 1st because then people never believe that I'm really leaving.

Good luck, and we look forward to the day the Secret Stealth Project comes out from under wraps!

Tarek said...

"Bon vent" for your new adventures !

Bryan Hoyt said...

Wow, sounds exciting! We're just beginning a switch to using Django for our web applications, and looking forward to hearing more from people like you & projects like this.

All the best with the independent consulting thing :-)

djangofun said...

Python and Django community has been blessed with people like you
"a lot of our work will end up going back to the community. Sounds like my kind of thing!"
I admire those kind of people. Goodluck and do you best.

vid said...

Hi Danny,

Seems like I was not around to see your famous cartwheels. Maybe at the next pycon!

"My last day is April 1, 2010." ....Hey, after meeting you briefly at pycon its my hunch that this is your April Fools Day joke. If I guessed wrong, Good luck for the future:)

Davide Muzzarelli said...

In bocca al lupo!