About me

I was born in Kuwait during a time of turmoil (the Iran-Iraq war). My family and I lived in Iran and Syria as stateless people during the Gulf War before immigrating to Canada in 1997 (nothing makes a person appreciate a citizenship more than being stateless). Growing up in a very diverse city (Ottawa) and living in poverty have influenced me greatly. I am drawn to people and communities that emphasize fairness, sustainability, and inclusiveness. My Chinese-Italian wife, a visual artist with a Ph. D. in Physics, influences me greatly and broadens my perspective on life.

Building for the web

In 1998, our family purchased a computer and hooked it up to the free internet that my father received from the college where he was studying English. That same year I created my first web page, a GeoCities page to congratulate France for winning the world cup! I also contributed a lot of articles about web development as an 11-year-old... probably very embarrassing to read now. My web development continued as a hobby throughout high school and university.

I was a freelance web developer intermittently for over a decade. My work was mainly with open source PHP applications like Wordpress. My focus was on creating simple, inexpensive and very user-friendly web sites while providing technical advice/insights to my clients. Until 2012 my technical skills were limited to SEO, Design/HTML/CSS, a bit of jQuery, MySQL, back-end development (mostly open source PHP apps) and deployment on shared hosts.

Formal Education in Science

Between 2005 and 2011 I completed a Bachelor of Science (major in Biology) from the University of Ottawa. It was a great opportunity to not only study science but other topics as well (philosophy, economics, business, French). While science fascinates me greatly, my real passion lies elsewhere.

K-12 Education

During 2011-2012, I completed a Bachelor of Education from the University of Ottawa. For about ten months (July 2012 to May 2013) I worked at eSchool as an instructor, course developer, and technologist. I taught an online grade 12 chemistry course. I was also hired to create courses, ensure that all classes met Ministry of Education requirements, and was responsible for the technical infrastructure at the school.

There are selfish and altruistic reasons for getting involved in education. I derive pleasure from interacting with and helping people. I also learn a great deal from every teaching experience. I believe that passionate teachers can have a profound influence on their students and cause positive change in the world.

Self-taught Programming

From fall 2012 to June 2013 (7-8 months) I was engaged in self-directed learning to improve my technical skills. I used books, websites, massive open online courses (MOOCs) to learn many concepts in software engineering. I learned programming (Python, Ruby, Ruby on Rails, Javascript/CoffeeScript), Agile Methodology, databases, etc.

From July to August I attended HackerYou's nine week Summer Academy (a web development boot camp). Shopify hosted the Summer Academy. I documented this part of my journey on this blog.

Edtech for 10+ years

The 2013-2014 year was spent working full-time with my co-founders on two ed-tech web applications - Curri and HelpCue. The latter is a web application that facilitates the asking of questions in a classroom. This startup was an amazing experience; I learned so much about building a product (from both a business and technical point of view).

I have continued to work in the Edtech space as a senior software engineer at companies like Cyanna Education Services, Mystery Science, and CareAcademy. I wake up every morning, excited to bring the next improvement to our customers.