Skillset — Rob Garfield


I have an extensive background in programming including a degree in computer game programming.  My focus was in artificial intelligence for games and simulations, so I can engineer a mean pathing algorithm and finite (or fuzzy) state machine!  The language I am most adept with is C/C++, but I have worked with a number of scripting languages including Perl, javascript, PhP and UnrealScript.  My versioning software experience started with SVN and has moved into Git.  Git is extraordinary – very excited to master it!  While I am still learning Python, I find that most of my prior experience transposes well — algorithms are algorithms, design patterns are design patterns; the learning curve is primarily API, convention and syntax.  Contemporary programming environments have so many quality of life improvements, it almost feels like cheating!

I run an extremely large multisite WordPress installation in my job, so I am quite familiar with the WP front and back ends.  I have taught workshops in WP site creation and maintenance, developed themes and (the code for) plugins, and dipped my toes into the crazy world of WP systems administration by necessity.

I plan for my Thesis project to involve developing a web application (possibly multiple applications), so I am focused on having development be my main role this semester.


I am no stranger to academic research – particularly in the area of using games and simulations in higher education classrooms.  Some years ago, I led a team which developed a social science simulation for Columbia’s Earth Institute which was incorporated into the foundational course in their new Sustainable Development program track.  This involved a significant amount of research and evaluation which led to grant proposals for further development and dissemination.

That said, I am no master either.  I feel my skills need more development in a rigorous academic environment and hope to be able to work on them extensively this semester.  I have already learned a lot from my group mates and the work all of us did last semester in Intro to DH.


Design is not my forte, but I can be a solid critic of design.  I have html and css skills; and have been exposed extensively to information architecture principles through my projects.  Design is crucial in any project, for sure.  Although, I feel most comfortable in a support role in this area, I do feel confident in my ability to contribute in the areas of testing, evaluation and iteration.

Project Management:

I have been working in project management since 2002 when, with a group of colleagues, I was involved in creating a startup to develop simulations for military and educational use.  I worked as a project manager at Columbia University for five years, as well, developing game/simulation classroom interventions involving teams with sizes ranging from four to ten people.  For two years, I taught pre-production for gaming projects at the college level.  In my current position, I am also called upon to lead small teams to complete pedagogical and technical projects.

I am familiar with Gantt-chart slinging, software development philosophies and methodologies, and the delicate art of team building.  I also feel quite confident in my ability to contribute to a group — without creating friction — while helping others get the most out of themselves.

That all said, I would prefer to focus more of my time in evolving my research and development skills, acting more as support to a formal project manager.


My strength is in making connections with other people on a smaller scale.  For example, I work with faculty and instructors all the time and can quickly, clearly and enthusiastically engage with them around ideas and projects.  I find academics to be some of the most fascinating, usually enjoyable, people to talk to and would welcome the opportunity to work directly with DH colleagues and faculty very much.

On the flip side, I generally eschew social media and have very little experience with marketing projects to a larger audience.  I would be happy to learn more about marketing from someone who knows what they are doing, but this is definitely an area in which my skills are low.


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