Tag Archives: new knerds

L to R, back to front: Bill, Antony, Paul, Ian; Fiorella, Katie, Joyce

Welcome to Seven New Knerds

Bill Prin joins Knewton as a Software Engineer. He earned his B.S. in Computer Science from Johns Hopkins and previously worked at a financial news startup catering to algorithmic traders. His hobbies include playing card games, running to trance and hardstyle music, and practicing Portuguese. In high school, Bill was voted most likely to become a mad scientist.

Antony Stubbs joins Knewton as a Lead Engineer. Antony is originally from New Zealand and cut his teeth at Auckland Grammar School. Before coming to Knewton, he was making a massive real-time fantasy sports game. His favorite TV show is Archer and his hobbies include kite surfing.

Originally from Iowa, Ian Meyer joins Knewton as the Director of Systems Engineering. A proud alumnus of the School of Hard Knocks, Ian was previously a Site Reliability Engineer at Google. His hobbies include skiing and snow science. The best trip he’s ever been on was to Farellones, Chile.

Fiorella Bariani is the newest Recruiter at Knewton. Originally from New York, Fiorella graduated from Adelphi University. Previously, she was handling HR and Recruitment for Mojiva, a mobile advertising startup. Her favorite movie is Say Anything and her favorite vacation location is Greece.

After moving away from NYC a few years ago — and freelancing for Knewton for a year from afar — Katie Kosma was pulled back by the opportunity to work here full-time. She’s now our Art Director — and glad she came back. Katie received her BA from UNC-Chapel Hill in philosophy and Spanish, and went to grad school for design at the Portfolio Center. She’s a big fan of crosswords, renting cars, and Yacht Rock.

Joyce Kim joins Knewton as a Software Engineer on the Platform team. Originally from Rhode Island, Joyce attended Columbia University. Her all-time favorite movie is Life is Beautiful, and she loves being outdoors and does yoga every day. The best vacation she’s ever been on was to France.

Paul Caplan is a Senior Software Engineer at Knewton. Originally from New Rochelle, NY, he graduated from Duke University. In his free time, he enjoys doing anything outdoors and exploring new places (like LegoLand!) with his ten-month-old son. Paul doesn’t eat lobster because they look like giant insects. His favorite Wikipedia page is this one.

Rex, Privthi, and Shreya

Welcome Rex, Dvora, Adam, Prithvi, and Shreya

Dvora and Adam (Photo by Josh Robinson)

Knewton welcomed five new Knerds this month.

Rex Gibson is a Senior Engineer on the Analytics team. Rex is originally from Nebraska, attended Webster University in St. Louis, and has been living in New York for the past 12 years. Before joining Knewton, he was the Data Lead at opensky.com. Rex’s favorite book is Dune (“quite a remarkable insight into the world’s geopolitical landscape”). In his free time, he enjoys music — he’s a trained music producer and audio engineer (he once worked pro in NYC) and also has a passion for designing musical instruments for surround sound. His all-time favorite travel destination is Wind River Range in Wyoming.

Dvora Inwood joins Knewton as the Content Curation Manager. Originally from Los Angeles, Dvora received her BA from Harvard and her MA in Education from Stanford. In the past, Dvora ran a charter school network in LA and designed innovative schools in NY. Dvora says that in her free time she “used to rock climb, play bridge and Celebrity, and camp. Now, I just work, play Scramble with Friends, and enjoy my kids.” Like Rex, the best place Dvora has ever traveled to is Wyoming. This is her favorite Wikipedia page.

Originally from New City, NY, Adam Granat joins Knewton as an Accountant on the Finance team. Adam graduated from Tulane University with a BS in Finance and an MS in Accounting, and previously worked at Grant Thornton Financial Services Group. Outside of work, Adam sits on the board of a charity called Mission: Restore. Game of Thrones is Adam’s favorite book and TV show. His favorite travel destination is Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.

Prithvi Raj joins the API team as a Software Engineer. Originally from India, Prithvi graduated from the University of Florida with an MS in Computer Engineering. His favorite movie is Lord of the Rings and his favorite TV show is Friends. In his free time, he enjoys photography, cooking, music, and exploring places. He likes this Wikipedia page a lot. Though almost no one agrees with him, Prithvi maintains that a person can survive briefly in space unprotected.

Shreya Amin is Knewton’s newest Adaptive Instruction Analyst. She graduated from the University of Chicago, and before coming to Knewton was completing an analyst fellowship in the education sector. Her current favorite books are Childhood’s End, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, End of Eternity, Demian, and The Plague. These days Shreya enjoys reading Russell and Madulin, eating diverse cuisions, and trying every nearby brewery she can find. This is her favorite Wikipedia page.

From L-R: Andrew, Erion, Illya, Jon, David, Dan, and Giannis

Welcome to Seven New Knerds

Seven new people joined the Knewton team this month. We’re excited to have them all here.

Illya Bomash is a Data Analyst on the Adaptive Learning team. Illya was born in Russia but has been living in NYC for the past eight years. He went to college at Harvard, then did a Ph.D. at Weill Cornell Medical College in computational neuroscience, studying how cells in the retina represent visual inputs. In his spare time, Illya enjoys “going to MoMa and wishing I were an artist, biking around NYC and taking photos, and cooking a steady stream of CSA vegetables.” Tokyo and Kyoto top Illya’s list of travel destinations.

Jon Tascher is a Web Developer on the Marketing team. Originally from New York, Jon graduated from Vassar College. Before coming to Knewton, he was a freelance web developer. In his free time, he enjoys reading — his favorite books are Catch 22 and Stranger in a Strange Land. Though few people tend to agree with him, Jon maintains that the BeeGees are one of the greatest bands in the history of music. He says his high school yearbook should have named him “Most likely to have forgotten homework, books, pen, binder, etc.” The Dancing Plague of 1518 is his favorite Wikipedia article.

Giannis Neokleous is a Software Engineer on the Adaptive Learning team. Originally from Cyprus, Giannis earned a BSc in Computer Science from Stony Brook University and an MS in Computer Science from Stanford University. Before he came to Knewton, he was “collecting and processing millions of people’s opinions online (in a non-creepy way).” Giannis enjoys biking, travelling, and music (“most variations of metal”) in his free time. His favorite place he’s traveled to is Venice.

David Hartunian is a Software Engineer originally from Belmont, MA. He graduated from Carnegie Mellon University and has spent the last five years working in finance on algorithmic investment strategies. His favorite TV show is Battlestar Galactica, and his hobbies include strategy board games and cooking. Timeline of the Far Future is his favorite Wikipedia article. Though few people agree with him, David maintains that getting up early is better than staying up late.

Erion Hasanbelliu is a Software Engineer on the Adaptive Learning team. He’s from “the SOUTH” (emphasis his) and attended Jacksonville State University and the University of Florida, where he earned his PhD in Electrical and Computer Engineering. His research work focused primarily on Machine Learning and Computer Vision. Erion’s hobbies include anything outdoorsy, and his favorite travel destination is Greece. You can find him at erionhasanbelliu.com.

Dan Risch is a Technical Recruiter. Originally from Milwaukee, Dan graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Before coming to Knewton, he was recruiting for tech startups through an agency. His favorite movie is The Sandlot, and in his free time, he enjoys golf, hunting, fishing, camping, and baseball (“only spectating at this point”). Scuba diving in Hawaii or the Cayman Islands tops his list of favorite vacations.

Andrew Love is the Client Services Manager at Knewton. Originally from Los Angeles, Andrew previously worked as a business technology consultant, “helping small and medium-sized businesses plan and implement new products and services.” Andrew’s biggest hobby is product design — “I’m almost always cooking up a software or hardware concept in my free time.” Andrew’s high school yearbook should named him “Most likely to sell everything and live out of a backpack.” His favorite Wikipedia article is about “the story of Marvin Heemeyer and the Killdozer… The story has no happy ending, but still; bulldozer rampage!”

Welcome Rob, Niki, Bill, and James

new employee february
From left to right: Bill, James, Niki, and Rob

Four new Knerds joined our team in the past month. We’re excited to have them all on board.

Rob Schultheis joins Knewton as a Quality Assurance Engineer. Before coming to Knewton, he hiked the Appalachian trail; before that, he consulted as a quality engineer. Originally from Miami, Rob graduated from Virginia Tech. In his free time, he enjoys yoga and cooking. His favorite book is Riddley Walker, and this is his favorite Wikipedia article. You can also find Rob on Quora, GitHub, and Stack Overflow.

Niki Yoshiuchi is a new Software Engineer. A Bronx native, Niki graduated from Polytechnic University and was programming video games prior to coming to Knewton. The best place Niki has ever traveled is Iceland, and his high school yearbook should have deemed him “Most likely to be indecisive.” Niki’s favorite Wikipedia article — “List of Problems Solved by MacGyver” — has been removed, but an older version is here.

Bill Brodie joins Knewton as a Software Engineer on our Platform team. Bill was previously a software consultant in education and finance, and also recently took some time off to work on an organic farm in upstate New York. In addition to farming and gardening, Bill enjoys hiking. His favorite travel experience was a season spent canoeing through West Africa to Timbuktu. Bill graduated from Princeton University.

James Chun is also a new Software Engineer on our Platform team. Originally from Singapore, James comes to us from Carnegie Mellon University. He’s into outdoorsy stuff in his free time, in particular running and cycling. His favorite place he’s traveled is Panama.

Welcome Philip, Mohan, and Chaitu

new knerds

We recently welcomed three new Knerds to the Knewton team.

Software engineer Philip Vegdahl (left) moved across the country from Santa Barbara, CA, where he worked for a defense contractor, to join us here at Knewton. Prior to his move, Philip had never lived off the West Coast or in a big city. “Living in Manhattan is very different,” says Philip, “but so far I love it.” Philip graduated from Harvey Mudd College. His favorite book is Ephesians, and his hobbies include swing dancing.

Mohan Kolli (center) joins Knewton as a software engineer on our Platform team. Originally from Hyderabad, India, Mohan earned a master’s degree from Columbia University. In his free time, Mohan enjoys exploring the city, playing sports, and reading (right now, he’s working his way through Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time series). His favorite movie is The Matrix.

Chaitu Ekanadham (right) is the newest data scientist on Knewton’s Adaptive Learning Team. Originally from New York, he earned his B.S. from Stanford and a Ph.D. in Applied Math from NYU. Chaitu says that his high school yearbook should have voted him “Most likely to leave the country” (his favorite destination so far is Turkey). When he’s not travelling, Chaitu enjoys hand drumming and salsa.

Welcome Anne and Jackie

Anne and Jackie
Smiling despite near-freezing temperatures and a raging wind. (Photo by Josh Robinson)

Two new Knerds joined our team this month.

Anne Thomas (left) is Knewton’s newest Adaptive Instruction Analyst. Originally from Tokyo, she attended Columbia University. Then, Anne says, “In 2009, I took Knewton’s GMAT prep course. That got me into business school [at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business] which in turn got me a job at Knewton. Of course this was all preconceived.” While Anne is our first student-turned-employee, we trust she won’t be the last. Anne likes skiing, her favorite movie is The Apartment, and — most controversially — she thinks ice cream is overrated.

Jackie Pizzimenti joins Knewton as an Executive Assistant. A native New Yorker, Jackie graduated from NYU and worked at Polycom before coming to Knewton. Her favorite TV show is the Simpsons and she does improv at the Upright Citizens Brigade theatre in her free time. The best place Jackie has ever travelled is Columbus, MO and she maintains “the best burger” can be found at The Red Rooster drive-in in Brewster, NY. This is Jackie’s favorite Wikipedia page.

Welcome Brandon, Paul, Eugen, Mirka, and Nate

Nate, Brandon, Mirka, Paul, and Eugen: software engineers or indie band? (Photo by Josh Robinson)

In the past few weeks, we’ve welcomed five new engineers to the Knewton team.

Brandon Reiss joins Knewton as a software engineer on our Adaptive Learning team. Before coming to Knewton, Brandon worked at a startup called Organic Motion, where he contributed to all aspects of designing and implementing a computer vision based markerless motion capture system. Brandon studied Computer Science and Mathematics at NYU. He’s a big Seinfeld fan and also likes to cycle, cook, do small construction projects, and write software. You can find Brandon on github or at brandonreiss.com.

Paul Kernfeld is also a software engineer on the Adaptive Learning team. Originally from State College, PA, Paul attended Brown University. His hobbies include cocktails, cooking, and eating. Case in point: before joining Knewton, Paul was in Sichuan learning Sichuanese cooking. Check out Paul’s personal blog and website (“no joke, it’s actually both”) at paulkernfeld.com.

Originally from Romania, new software engineer Eugen Dinca graduated from Universitatea Petrol-Gaze, Ploiesti. He previously worked as a tech lead for one of the middleware teams at Wireless Generation. Eugen’s pop-culture favorites include: Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card (book), Snatch (movie), and Futurama (TV show). The best vacation that he’s ever taken was to Greece, and the one thing he couldn’t live without is the internet. You can find Eugen on StackExchange.

Miroslava Sotakova, known as Mirka, is a software engineer on our Platform team. Mirka, who is from a small town in Slovakia, has degrees from Charles University in Prague, Czech Republic and Aarhus University in Denmark. Mirka enjoys hiking, biking, and taking pictures. Like Eugen, she’d find it hard to live without the Internet (though she concedes a week offline is usually great) and would also miss her cameras and the guitar. You can learn more about Mirka on her personal website.

Our newest QA Engineer isn’t really new at all. We’re psyched to welcome Nate Burke back to the Knewton team, after a brief sojourn “wheeling and dealing mortgage-backed securities” (he said it). Nate is from East Hartford, CT and graduated from Harvard. Hobbies include track and field, classical music, small-mountain New England skiing, running, string quarters, and cheese. The best place he’s ever traveled? “I’ll tell you where. Someplace warm. A place where the beer flows like wine. Where beautiful women instinctively flock like the salmon of Capistrano. I’m talking about a little place called Aspen.” Nate would like you to check out this website: www.camnot.org.

Welcome Shawn, Vishal, and Ferdi

New employee Vishal (left) gestures to new employee Shawn (center) as new employee Ferdi (right) listens carefully.
Shawn tries to quantify the excitement he feels at starting work at Knewton (“It’s bigger than a breadbox!”)
Shawn and Ferdi discuss their respective interpretations of typical breadbox size. Vishal, skeptical, looks on. (All photos by Josh Robinson)

Somehow, Labor Day has come and gone and fall is fast approaching. In the midst of a busy August, we welcomed three new Knerds to the Knewton team.

Shawn Lauzon joins us as a Senior Software Engineer on the Platform team. Originally from Austin, TX, and Madison, WI, Shawn graduated from the University of Wisconsin at Madison. Before coming to Knewton, he was working on Android development in Austin. As a brand-new New Yorker, Shawn’s hobbies right now center around all the errands and explorations involved in moving, but he also enjoys going to movies, seeing live music, DJing, and travel. Shawn’s favorite book is Great Expectations and he’s a Breaking Bad fan.

Vishal Patel joins us as an Adaptive Instruction Analyst. A native New Yorker, Vishal has degrees from NYU and Georgetown. Before joining Knewton he taught science and math to high schoolers. Vishal is a huge basketball and soccer fan, and, in his own words, “Rush Hour is by far my favorite movie ever.”

Originally from Indonesia, Ferdi Adeputra joins Knewton as a Software Engineer on our Platform team. Ferdi graduated from Brown University and was previously working as a Tech Analyst at Goldman Sachs. He’s excited about Knewton’s open-ended environment (luckily he came right in time for our first double Hack Day in a few weeks — doesn’t get more open-ended than that!). Ferdi’s hobbies include exploring new places, and his favorite travel destination is Mexico.

Welcome Q&A with Ryan Prichard, Knewton CTO

Ryan and his family

Knewton recently welcomed Ryan Prichard as our new Chief Technology Officer (CTO). We’re really excited to have Ryan on the team, and thought we’d throw him a few “get to know you” questions before he got too settled in.

Where are you from?

I’m originally from the Jersey Shore. That’s right, I belong to the “we don’t pump our gas, we pump our fists” crew and I couldn’t be more proud.

Where did you go to school?

I was recruited to play soccer for Carnegie Mellon University my senior year in high school. I hadn’t heard of CMU but both my parents strongly urged me to look into it since they knew I wanted to go into engineering (I’m still thanking them to this day).

I visited the campus during Carnival weekend, had a blast, and knew that this was the place for me. My freshman year, I was amazed at what the other kids in my dorm were able to do with a computer. I was turned on immediately to programming and hacking. I spent the next four years learning about software development and majored in Information and Decision Systems with a minor in Computer Science. During my time at CMU I also played soccer, volleyball… and cheerleading, yup, cheerleading.

Can you talk a little bit about how you began your career and how it evolved through the years?

I interned for a startup in Silicon Valley my senior year of college and connected with a Director at Agilent Technologies (formerly Hewlett-Packard) before I left. They offered me a job as a software engineer and I started right after my last semester at CMU.

I spent six years developing device drivers for Agilent’s V4x00 family of flash memory testers along with compilers/visual debuggers for their custom ASICs. During this time, I attended numerous advanced computer science courses at Stanford and ultimately received my master’s degree in software engineering from CMU’s West Coast campus.

Six months prior to graduating, my wife moved back to the east coast to start a Ph.D. program in Baltimore, so I moved to be with her. I began working for a company called BillMeLater in Timonium, MD. I was one of about seven engineers working on various aspects of their system (credit decision engine, self service web site, customer service websites, etc.).

Soon after I started, I got into management (something I always knew I wanted to do) and began running the development of BillMeLater’s enterprise services platform (the SOA layer that powered all of their customer facing applications). In 2008, BML was purchased by PayPal and from there I started to manage more of the PayPal core development within the Payments and Credit organization. Working at BillMeLater/PayPal was an amazing experience, not only because of the great people I had the opportunity to work with, but because I learned how to manage highly performant systems that were engineered by people all over the world.

How do you see your experience at PayPal informing your work at Knewton?

Building and managing PayPal’s engine (a 24×7 financial system with over 110 million customers) requires focus on software quality, discipline around process, constant attention to performance as the user base grows, designing modular systems that enable modifications without requiring a system wide outage, and most importantly building a scalable organization.

Our goal at Knewton is to build an adaptive learning platform that every online course in the world will use. In order to achieve that goal, we’ll have to approach our system in much the same way. We need to go beyond cutting-edge technology and create software in a way that’s never been thought of before. I love challenges like that.

What attracted you to Knewton?

Wow, where do I begin?  To name just a few:

  • The people that work here ― every group here has extremely talented individuals.
  • The ambitious goal that the company has set us out to achieve. I have two young children (and one the way), and would love nothing more than to positively contribute to their educational experience.
  • The atmosphere. Anyone who walks into our office immediately feels the passion that everyone has to change the world of education forever. Combine that with an amazing culture and you have a pretty awesome place to work.
  • The kegerator in the kitchen… it’s just awesome.

Any hobbies?

My main hobby is playing with my kids (Hudson is 4 ½ and Hadley is 2 ½) during my free time. When I’m not doing that, I’m playing golf (preferably with Hudson) and watching Steeler games with the whole family (as well as the rest of Steeler Nation… here we go Steelers, here we go! Sorry, I couldn’t resist. :) )

Favorite book, TV series, and movie?

Everyone who knows me knows my favorite movie is Fight Club. I think I’ve seen that movie over 50 times. Favorite book is “Fooled by Randomness” by Nassim Nicholas Taleb, although I’ve been reading “I’m a Shark” a lot with Hudson so that would be a close second. :) My favorite TV series at this time would have to be American Horror Story.

Any other startups you’re rooting for?

Taxi Magic. They’ve got a great product and great people working there.

Have more questions for Ryan? Find him on Twitter @prichcmu.

Photo by Josh Robinson

Welcome Nick, Sara, and Rachael

We welcomed three new team members in July. Here’s a brief introduction to our newest Knerds!

Sara Ittelson (left) isn’t really new to Knewton, having spent three months here as an MBA intern in the summer of 2011. She left us for a little while to finish up her MBA and Masters in Education at Stanford, but now she’s back for good as the Director of Business Development. Sara is originally from Chico, CA, and received her undergrad degree from Northwestern University. She’s a big NPR fan (A Prairie Home Companion is one of her favorites) and is currently loving Downton Abbey.

Nick Orton joins as a Senior Engineer on our Platform team. Originally from South Carolina, Nick attended Columbia University and worked previously in the banking industry before joining us here at Knewton. Nick’s favorite book is The Master and Margarita and his hobbies include record collecting.

Rachael Siciliano (right) joins the Design team as Lead UX Designer. Originally from Wisconsin, Rachael has degrees from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Rice University, and the University of California at Santa Barbara. In her free time, Rachael enjoys biking and SUPing.  When asked what most excites her about working at Knewton, Rachael answered simply: “Everything. Seriously.” We’re just as happy to have her here!