Dear Mr. Drabek,
I first met you during my sophomore year as a Computer Science student at the University of Arizona in 1988, where I had my first class with you. I’m writing you to let you know how much of a positive impact you had on me. I’ve taken what you’ve taught me and built a career on the lessons I learned from you.
You were very strict, very serious, and I respected your skill, your style, and your knowledge. I remember focusing on what you had to say more than any professor I had. I didn’t want to miss a word.
I remember anticipating your class more than any other, eagerly wanting to learn all the cool things you knew. I learned a lot from you and it’s stayed with me – always.
One way you influence me every day is simply – coding style. You were very careful about teaching the “right” way to code and pointing out the wrong way to code. Your style still influences every line of code I write. I now use a code analysis tool, ReSharper, to validate my work and every time I look up at the indicator in the editor and see what it needs to fix, I’m always happy when I see it’s only one or two improvements. I feel like you made my brain ReSharp code as I develop it.
I came to you my senior year with an Independent Study project to write a Golf Handicapping Program on Microsoft Windows 3.0. The first thing you said to me was – “Everyone here thinks Windows is a toy and will never go anywhere”. I replied back, “Well sir, it’s not, I think it’s going to grow really fast”. Too bad I didn’t have any money to buy Microsoft stock back then, but you agreed with me and you let me do it. I remember showing you an early version of my work and the code behind Windows events and you nodding how clever it was. I remember seeking your approval so much so I was so nervous delivering the final version of the software, and after taking you through it, I finally got a smile from you. Moments like that could have gone either way, and who knows where chaos theory would have taken me had you not believed in what I was doing.
My success in that project motivated me in such a way, that 2 years after I graduated, after I moved to Silicon Valley, I convinced my company to port all the software from Motif to Windows, and I led the way.
In 1998, I started my first company, ememories.com, a photo sharing web site co-founded with fellow UofA CS alum Carlos Blanco. Once I got the company funded, I bought us an awesome new 8U server from Dell, and when giving it a hostname, of course, I chose to name it after you: DRABEK. Throughout the company’s life, all server requests flowed through a machine with your moniker proudly labeled in our data center.
Thanks for the impression you made on me. Thank you for the teachings you gave me. I really appreciate it and will never forget it. You’re a great man, sir.
Brett Morrison, Class of 1991, University of Arizona
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