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Top Microsoft Engineer to Speak at Florida Tech


Distinguished Engineer James Whittaker is a former computer science professor at Florida Tech.

By University Alliance on November 12, 2014
Florida Tech to Host Microsoft’s Distinguished Engineer

James Whittaker, the Distinguished Engineer at software giant Microsoft, will be a guest presenter at Florida Institute of Technology, where he spent a decade as a computer science professor.

Whittaker, who previously worked for Google and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), will give two free talks, titled “The Data Economy,” as part of the Visiting Entrepreneur Program of Florida Tech’s Nathan Bisk College of Business. The presentations are scheduled for 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. Nov. 13 in the Denius Student Center’s Hartley Room on the Melbourne, Florida, campus.

“Companies that possess, refine, store and transmit data are among the wealthiest in the world,” Whittaker said, according to a Florida Tech news release. “This new data economy will determine the winners and losers of the next decade.”

After earning his undergraduate degree in computer science in the mid-1980s, Whittaker joined the FBI, where he helped automate the bureau’s caseloads. The Kentucky native then earned his master’s degree and PhD in Computer Science from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville.

Whittaker arrived at Florida Tech in 1996. In addition to his teaching duties, he established the Center for Software Engineering Research, later to be known as the Center for Information Assurance, and wrote books about breaking software codes. His research into computer security led to the creation of a startup company, which was later bought by Raytheon, a global aerospace and defense company.

Whittaker left Florida’s Space Coast in the mid-2000s, joining Microsoft, which is headquartered in the Pacific Northwest.

“Working for a big company was the one thing I’d never done,” he recalled in an article published on Microsoft’s website.

Three years later he joined Google as engineering director, a role that saw him work on projects including Google+, Chrome and Google Maps. Another three years later and Whittaker had left the search engine behemoth to return to Microsoft, where his position also is known as Distinguished Technical Evangelist.

Whittaker’s presentation at Florida Tech will delve into the anticipated developments in how data is produced and consumed. He has said that “data is the new oil and the economy around data is the new industrial revolution.”

The rising need for data across industries is pushing demand for database administrators, particularly at cloud computing companies and in the healthcare field, which is transitioning to electronic medical records, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Employment of database administrators is projected to grow by 15% nationally between 2012 and 2022, faster than the average (11%) for all occupations.

The average annual salary for database administrators was almost $81,000 as of May 2013, the BLS reports.

Whittaker’s presentations are open to the public. Please RSVP by emailing Sharon Carnohan at scarnoha@fit.edu for the 11 a.m. presentation and Donna Cassario at dcassario@fit.edu for the 6 p.m. talk. There will be 5 p.m. reception before the evening presentation.

Category: 2014 Headlines