KevinKoch.com

Overview

This website is about the Kevin Koch who graduated from MIT in 1976 and lives in Arlington MA.

We moved to Venezuela when I was 2 and I learned Spanish as a native language. Listening to and understanding people who can't understand each other has been one of my defining abilities ever since.

I decided to be a surgeon at age 6 but discovered a knack for programming at 15. I have enjoyed software design and development ever since. I started my career at MIT and have worked as a software engineer at Draper Lab, Children's Hospital Boston, DEC/Compaq/HP, CA and MIT. My experience runs the gamut from microcode to real time apps to GUI applications to ecommerce websites to cross platform portability. I especially like learning about people's processes and problems and then solving the problems, whatever the problem domain.

I earned BS and MS degrees in Mechanical Engineering from MIT in 1976 and 1981. I continue to be interested in glucose modeling and in-vivo glucose measurement and regulation. I enjoy gardening, biking, domestic & international travel, feline husbandry and playing tricks on my two kids.

Where I've been

Stories I like to tell about myself

My family moved to Venezuela when I was 2. At 3, I had the revelation that there were two ways of saying everything. I went around saying everything both ways to everyone, until the next revelation. Which was that some people respond to one way and some people respond to the other way.

In my first real job, as a mechanical engineer, my engineering group and our CAD group could literally not understand what each other was saying. I became the go-between between the two groups. This was my transition to software development.

I was helping my boss brainstorm about a thermal problem. I'd written a model. Each time he'd say 'let's do this,' I'd tweak the model's source code in a couple of minutes and we'd look at the results.

I like learning about people's processes and problems and then solving the problems, whatever the problem domain. I'm good at listening, mediating, understanding problems expressed in non-technical ways, rapid prototyping.


In 11th grade, a friend and said 'if we both go to MIT, we'll write programs to play this game. At the end of our freshman year, we'll have a playoff for $50.' I said 'OK. I guess I have to learn how to program now.' This is how I got started in programming. [We both did go to MIT but never had the playoff.] Picking up new computer languages is as easy as learning a new native language.

When someone says we're going to use UDP or SOAP for communications, I go learn it.

I'm fearless about new things.

On vacation in Hong Kong, I announced we were going to Cheung Chau. My son said he didn't want to go there, that was stupid. [He knew as little as you do (zero) about the place.] I had to cajole him to give it a try. The next day, he wanted to go back.

My daughter gets frustrated with her math. When I insist she think about it a certain way, she pouts and cries and rants. When she finally 'gets it,' she triumphantly wants more problems which have become easy. Now when she starts something new, I ask her if we can skip the ranting and frustration and go right to the triumphant part.

They are learning it, slowly.


In one great project, the manager said we would make so many mistakes and learn so much that we'd tear it all up and reorganize it, incorporating what we learned. Each developer gave a chalk talk about all the mistakes (s)he had made and what (s)he had learned. The product was reimplemented and was a great success.

I chose a manager at another job partly because his ideal was 'egoless programming.'

When I get stuck and need another pair of eyes to look at what I'm doing, I ask people to embarrass me.

Ego doesn't get in the way of my work. I prefer collaboration with colleagues to competition with colleagues.

 

Resume in html

Resume in Word


Favorite quotes

"If you don't like change, you're going to like irrelevance even less" -- Gen. Eric Shinseki, Chief of Staff, US Army

"Find a job you love and you won't have to work a day in your life"

"Have fun today" -- Kevin Koch to his kids, on their way to school


Contact

Kevin Koch
Arlington, MA
Cell: 781-254-7542
Email: kevin dot koch at alum dot mit dot edu