We at Circle Optics are an eclectic group of interesting people who are deeply curious and want to make a difference through immersive experience in aerospace, robotics and entertainment. Meet Mitchell Baller our Computer Science Co-op. Baller is pursuing a Master’s of Computer Science at Georgia Institute of Technology.
WHEN DID YOU KNOW THAT YOU WANTED TO BE A COMPUTER SCIENTIST– IS THERE AN EARLY CHILDHOOD EXPERIENCE THAT STANDS OUT?
The evidence of my inherent affinity for engineering began as a kid where I would build elaborate train tracks and networks in the family living room. I was always very analytical and loved building structures. I also enjoyed Mythbusters with Adam Savage so much I spent my own money downloading episodes. I thought I would be a mechanical engineer because I liked math and physics; however, sophomore year of college I took a computer science class. I found it fascinating to build structures with code and got so entranced by it that I changed my major to computer science.
WHAT QUALITIES MATTER MOST TO YOU ON A TEAM?
Understanding is the most important quality. There are two components of that understanding: i) the material (technical, codebase) ii) understanding the individuals on the team. The sum is greater than the individual parts and you have to learn how to best interact. The discipline of documenting is also very important.
Who Has Had The Most Influence on Your Early Career?
The most influential person for me was Coach Brunswick, my high school cross-country coach. He led by example and taught his athletes the value of hard work and persistence. I wasn’t a particularly good runner when I joined the team, but I continued to put in the time and push myself. My performance and endurance improved so much that I made it to the top 10. I also qualified the very first try for the Boston Marathon.
Working in computer science and working at Circle Optics are a lot like training for a marathon. It is nonstop effort, and you don’t get to see the results for a very long time-horizon. Daily execution and focus really matter for the long view.
WHAT GETS YOU EXCITED THE FUTURE OF CIRCLE OPTICS TECHNOLOGY?
I found a strong draw to computational photography and image processing through my love for amateur photography and some course work in graduation school. At Circle Optics I am working with experienced mentors in the field of image processing who are showing me the ropes. There are so many interesting problems to solve furthering situational awareness and immersive capabilities in optics. I have the autonomy to dig into these problems and make a real contribution to the team and the industry.
I am inspired by Circle Optics founder Zak Niazi’s vision of Hydra system being able to
explore places from around the world. The idea that with the help of a camera I could literally visit Times Square as easily as I start my computer is the coolest thing. There are cool places everywhere that people deliberately want to visit in this manner. I also imagine virtual road trips across the country. You know from your own experience that when you do road trips you find interesting and unexpected things. This technology can enable the anticipated visit as well as the adventure.