Where are you from?
I was born in San Diego, California but raised in North Texas and still live there (Fort Worth area). I'm considering a move in a year or so but not sure where. Hopefully closer to an ocean!
What would you like to tell about yourself?
My father was an architect and exotic boat designer, and I inherited his love of design (and the ocean). The bulk of my career has been spent designing and/or building things, from tools to medical testing instruments to houses.
I also possess a great passion for writing, particularly speculative fiction, and achieved my dream of professional publication in 2016! I hope to build on that. I find my storytelling skills come in handy when sharing travel experiences, and have especially turned quite a few US citizens on to Finland.
I discovered years ago that I have a more European than traditional American mindset, and actually found myself more at home in Finland than in Texas!
What makes Tampere special for you?
I compare it to Austin, Texas: a progressive college town full of smart, innovative people who love to collaborate on the Next Big Thing. I've been invited to Tampere twice to speak, in 2011 at the university and in 2012 at New Factory, and found myself overwhelmed by the friendliness and generosity of people there. It's also extremely easy to get around Tampere for a foreigner, and the pace is a bit more relaxed than in big cities. I especially love the Finlayson center! Everything you need in one place.
Tell about your professional activities?
I currently work as a systems engineer for the largest railway in the US, BNSF. My job is to support testing for a system that helps prevent train derailments and collisions. I'm very excited at the developments!
I started working originally in home construction, then moved into electromechanical design while pursuing a design technology degree. I've worked on design for radar/guidance systems, lighting projects, hand tools, and medical products.
But my favorite experience was with Nokia, where I started full time in quality assurance and then moved on to global logistics, where I worked with ~400 great employees in supporting and improving Nokia's vast reverse logistics systems and processes. I had the best time doing that! It was especially rewarding to learn from coworkers all over the world. Later I got the opportunity to return to Nokia as a part-time contractor, in the role of Developer Ambassador. I had a great time attending hackathons and other events, teaching and learning from enthusiastic software developers.
What is your involvement in international activities?
In addition to what I've already mentioned, after leaving Nokia in 2009 I got more heavily involved with the company's open source mobile operating system projects. I was elected three times to the maemo.org community council, and presented talks in the US and Amsterdam as part of that. Later the project was rebranded MeeGo and I was the only non Intel or Nokia employee added to the Community Office. There I developed a program that enabled several volunteers to attend a 2010 MeeGo conference in Dublin for free; one of my proudest accomplishments.
In recent years my extracurricular focus has shifted from tech development to writing and urban renewal, and I have been looking for ways to engage with international communities in both respects. For example, I believe the US could learn a lot from Finland in the areas of sustainable building construction and transportation.
What is your mission as a Tampere - All Bright! Ambassador?
I want to put Tampere on "the US radar". Many citizens here have no knowledge of Finland at all, or think of it as some ice-locked wasteland. My desire is to explode the myths and acquaint people here with the real Tampere... the culture, the people, the business and educational opportunities.
As the first All Bright! Ambassador in Texas, I'd like to see about linking Tampere to one of our cities as a "sister city" if it isn't already. That would go a long way toward creating and improving perceptions and exchange of opportunities.
What potential do you see for Tampere in the future?
I have many friends involved in the Tampere maker and start-up scenes, and knowing how smart and talented they are I think the possibilities are wide open. I was blown away during my last visit to New Factory, observing total strangers from different countries sitting down at a Devaamo conference break and leaving the table with a business idea! That's what excites me about Tampere and I look forward to following and sharing success stories there.
Link with Randall on LinkedIn>>
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