Founder, Alexandria Health
Partner, Dynamic Ideas
B.S., Mathematics, United States Naval Academy
Masters of Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
In 2007, while stationed in Iraq, I could not keep the 1st Battalion, 3d Marines IT network running to save my life. Our power generators were compromised, and the area was considered too dangerous for civilian contractor support. After months of pain, I finally got creative.
I bypassed the generators and started to pull power from vehicles. After all, a vehicle is ultimately a generator on wheels. Fuel combusts, which drives pistons, that spin a magnet, which generates current, that charges a battery. Though the answer seems trivial, prior to pulling the solution out of the shadows of the adjacent possible; prior to actually taking the vehicles off the road and parking them, the answer was elusive to me.
I personally believe that solutions like this can only be lulled into the light of day by an unlikely pair: rigorous technical competence and unconstrained creativity. Technical competence alone blinds one to the entire field of solutions. Creativity in the absence of system knowledge will never land an implementable solution.
There is no institution that so elegantly merges the development of academic and technical rigor while simultaneously encouraging freedom of thought and expression like that of Isidore Newman School.
For every mathematical definition internalized, I was guided to question the axioms on which they are built. For every five-paragraph essay mandated by the history department, I was given the latitude and time to challenge the merits of studying history. For every chemical compound committed to memory, I was guided to think through experimental design. As an example, I still remember my 6th grade computer science instructor setting aside time to discuss the effects of automation on society and the future of work after running a session on programming Tic-Tac-Toe in Pascal.
Over my thirteen years, the Newman faculty and broader community carefully thread the needle between structure and independence, concrete facts and abstract thoughts, and I am convinced, like any decent gumbo recipe, the combination of the two are certainly greater than the sum of their parts.