A Professor and a Former Student Walking Into Build…

imageTL;DR –  This is simply a recollection of a random event at Build 2014 this week. If you have no interest in reading about random events in my life I won’t be offended if you click the Back button now Winking smile

So, in the early 1990’s I was working on my Computer Science degree at Hawaii Pacific University (I happened to be stationed in Hawaii at the time while service in the United States Air Force). Like many CS students, I had many instructors. Also, like many others, I had my favorites… One of which was James McCaffrey.

What I liked about Mr. McCaffrey (now, Dr. McCaffrey) was that he kept class not only entertaining but he also tended to focus on the “science” side of the program (think computer science vs. software development). Long story short, I had several classes with Dr. McCaffrey, graduated with my BS CS degree, and was promptly transferred to my new duty station at Offfutt AFB in Omaha, NE.

Fast forward to a few years ago and I noticed that Dr. McCaffrey was writing an occasional column in MSDN Magazine. I recognized the name and shortly realized (based on his bio) that he was my former professor. I didn’t think much of it other than, cool, I know (sort of) someone working at Microsoft.

Fast forward again to earlier this week at the start of Build. I noticed that Dr. McCaffrey was doing a talk on neural networks. I mentioned to my co-worker, Jeremy, that I’d like to see his talk and possibly say “hi” to him afterword – just for old time’s sake.

Tuesday morning, the first day of the conference, Jeremy and I sat down for breakfast amongst several thousand other like-minded software nerds. Within a couple minutes of sitting down, a gentlemen asked if the seat next to me was open. “Sure”, I said. After he sat down, I asked him why his badge was purple (everyone else’s was blue). He held it up to tell me that he was presenting. That’s when I noticed the name printed on the badge. You guessed it, James McCaffrey! What are the odds of that I thought? Actually, I believe the exact words out of my mouth were “holy crap!” Smile

I introduced myself and told him that I was one of his CS students years ago at HPU. We talked for a bit and went on our way to enjoy the conference.

During his session today (yes, I still went Smile) he asked me to raise my hand to essentially prove that he had a “real” job (as a professor) prior to his currently research career.

I’m not sure what the odds are that a former professor from roughly 20 years ago would eventually sit down next to me at breakfast (where 99+% of everyone in there are attendees, not Microsoft employees) but apparently the odds are just good enough Smile

At any rate, I thought it was an interesting event, I’ll leave it up to you to determine if there’s any entertainment value to this story. Have a great rest of your day and, just maybe, you’ll experience an interesting random event today as well.