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The Founders Society Spotlight: Matthew Tucker, 2006
Class 1 - FY2011-2012
When the call went out to support Crooms Academy of Information Technology during The Founders Society campaign, Class of 2006 graduate Matthew Tucker was one of the alum to answer the call. In many ways, he is representative of past and present benefactors of Crooms: a long-term financial supporter who gives while asking for nothing in return and who also quietly commits his time to assist current students. Matthew has been a financial supporter of our scholarship program since it first started in 2007, regularly stepping up to assist at events like Teach-In Day, and provided behind-the-scenes support when it came time to create the Alumni Association.
Matthew was born and raised in Winter Springs and attended Sanford Middle School's magnet program for math, science, and technology. During middle school, he developed an interest in technology and computers thanks to the magnet program. Seminole County Public Schools' high school magnet programs left him with a choice: attend his home school, Seminole High School's International Baccalaureate program, or upstart Crooms Academy of Information Technology. For Matthew, the opportunity to be around a community of people that were interested in technology proved to be an alluding reason to attend Crooms AoIT.
"The school used this amazing opportunity [as a technology magnet school] to infuse technology into the academic curriculum," Matthew recalls of his experience at Crooms AoIT, "You had equipment to do science experiments and automatically load results into a program that could help dissect the findings." The structured classroom lessons weren't the only place he found opportunities to expand his technology horizons. "The best experiences at Crooms were with small group of students in an atmosphere that allowed us to work on projects and bounce ideas off of each other," Matthew says, "Just having that culture of being able to experiment with technology and having other people share their experiences and interests was incredible."
Matthew also was also an active member of the Crooms AoIT community. He was involved in Business Professionals of America, Student Ambassadors, a gaming club, and even served as the manager for a school sports team. Outside of Crooms AoIT, he earned his Eagle Scout badge in the Boy Scouts of America and spent many years volunteering to teach younger scouts boating, electrical, and electronics skills – among others. He also volunteered at various Boy Scout camps. Learning about databases at Crooms AoIT even provided him the opportunity to convert an older membership database the Central Florida Boy Scout council was using into a full-fledged SQL database with an easy-to-use front-end.
After graduating Crooms AoIT, Matthew attended the University of Central Florida. "I spent about four days in Computer Science and switched to Information Technology," he states. He wanted to focus on computer networking and databases. The Information Technology program at UCF offered curriculum that seemed more practical and relevant to the real world applications while still including the fundamental theory of computer science. "The Information Technology program was one of the best choices I made," he says. Outside of school, Matthew spent the bulk of his time in the Order of the Arrow in Boy Scouts, where he served as Lodge Treasurer and then Lodge Chief for Central Florida (one of two Croomies to hold the prestigious position).
Matthew decided to stay in Central Florida upon earning his degree. His professional career took off with an internship with Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Online. His job responsibilities revolved around reporting on e-commerce and marketing sites (which encompasses over 60 sites). "It was about understanding the business, and helping the business leaders make better decisions using the massive amounts of data the Disney sites generate," Matthew said. The team would use weblogs and Hadoop to analyze web trends. This led to a full-time position, leading to a three and a half year stint inside the House of Mouse. This past August, Matthew made the leap to Pentaho, a business intelligence software company based in Orlando that provides an open source platform for business intelligence and professional services. "I made the switch because I was working in one specific use-case of the business analytics market, a business need focused around e-commerce," he said, "I love Disney, but I want more opportunities to learn about a myriad of analytics use-cases." In his current role at Pentaho, Matthew offers software technical support mainly for their ETL [Extract, transform, and Load] products. He also gets to work with big data platforms, such as Hadoop, Mongo, and various other NoSQL engines. Pentaho offers Matthew the opportunity to work with the people creating the business intelligence tools in order to gain insights from these market leaders and then translate the tools' functions to the real world with the clients he supports.
Matthew continues to explore new technologies and is looking at various continuing education opportunities for statistics and data mining. In his spare time, he continues to support the Alumni Association and the Boy Scouts, while also pursuing new interests like SCUBA diving and cave diving. He recently married the love of his life, Erin, and they just bought a house together in the Orlando area.
- What's the biggest trend you see going on in the database and business intelligence markets?
It really comes down to having a feedback loop with your customers or audience. Instead of doing quarterly or annual campaigns and having to wait weeks or months to find out how it went, we can interact with customers within minutes and adjust the campaign accordingly. That requires re-thinking the entire back-end infrastructure [servers, software optimization, etc.] to optimize return on investment based upon customer feedback. The hard part is not processing your customers' actions, but understanding their intentions. We're at the point now where it's possible to predict a person's behavior online, especially since many websites already have hundreds of millions of users performing these same actions.
- What's your favorite database product?
PostgreSQL is in the best position in terms of foundational analytics capability and the ability to expand upon it. But they're also in a tough position to beat out enterprise offerings like Microsoft SQL and Oracle. It's a great product, free, and tough to beat unless you're spending millions of dollars.
- Any new "thing" or trend in technology that you're excited about?
It's a toss-up between automation (may it be home automation or otherwise) and the "consumerization" of database analytics, particularly around healthcare data. Just look at how individuals are measuring their health using health monitors, smart shoes from Nike, and a whole host of other products. Instead of going to your doctor once per year, there is now ease in tracking vital statistics on an ongoing basis, allowing for more accurate baselines and detection of health anomalies. Now, all of this has to be done appropriately: not only with technologies, but also with information and resources, so that consumers understand what they are looking at and allowing them to make a better decision on their lifestyle.
- End goal?
Right now, my goal career-wise is to become an expert in implementing BI solutions: from ETL [Extract, transform, and Load] all the way to analytics and data-mining. I want to be able to walk into any Fortune 500 company and be part of the team that helps to develop new analytical environments that benefits the consumer and bottom-line – and, to be able to do that repeatedly.
- Why did you decide to become a member of The Founders Society?
The opportunities I received from attending Crooms AoIT – particularly the immersion in a culture with people interested in technology – is something worth supporting, especially since it was a pivotal experience that helped to start me on my career path. The experience and knowledge [gained from attending Crooms] has been invaluable, and this is a way to reinvest in a program that helped me.
Updated: January 4, 2014
The Founders Society was established in 2011 to recognize the Crooms AoIT Alumni Association's most generous benefactors. These individuals, couples, or companies have made significant one-time contributions during our capital fundraising periods for the advancement of Crooms AoIT. Society members are sending a message that philanthropic support of Crooms AoIT and the current student body is vital to our alma mater's future success. Their financial support is changing lives and helps promote a culture of community support and involvement. To learn more about The Founders Society visit www.croomsalumni.com/about/founders.