Before I began pursuit of a Ph.D., I worked at Forest Computer in Okemos, MI, working on networking of heterogenous computers. I wrote file transfer and virtual terminal software for Vax-IBM communication.
Before moving to Michigan, I paid for my Master's degree by working as the System Manager for the Tulane Computer Science Department. They give you free tuition if you're a full time employee.
Prior to working for Tulane (before it dawned on me that I couldn't afford to pay for my degree myself), I worked at the Naval Biodynamics Laboratory in New Orleans, collecting accelerations of people's head and neck during impact injury experiments. Since the Navy closed the facility, it has become the National Biodynamics Laboratory (nice that they could keep the NBDL acronym) as part of the University of New Orleans under the College of Engineering.
And, my first job post BS was as a software engineer for the big defense contractor Litton Data Systems, writing communications software for a new Navy ship. They closed their New Orleans office while I worked for them, but now have a Ship Systems separate company. Look at Ingalls Shipyard in Pascagoula, MS where I continued the project after Litton bailed out of New Orleans. Here's a picture of the USS Essex which contains software that I wrote. A larger picture of the Essex going under the Coronado bridge is here.
One of the best work experiences I ever had was as a co-op student at Colorado Networks Division of Hewlett Packard. There I learned what it means to work for a large company that knows how to treat employees, and I have measured all other jobs I've had against this standard.
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