How a Bootcamp Prep Engineer Went from Wealth Management to NASA Mission Control

Check out Deep’s journey into space

The Delta IV Heavy rocket carrying NASA's Parker Solar Probe carves a fiery trail into the predawn sky in this long-exposure photograph taken on Aug. 12, 2018. Credit: Bill Ingalls/NASA
The Delta IV Heavy rocket carrying NASA's Parker Solar Probe carves a fiery trail into the predawn sky in this long-exposure photograph taken on Aug. 12, 2018. Credit: Bill Ingalls/NASA

How does one go from working in finance and playing soccer to becoming a NASA coder? Ask Deep Tailor, a young man originally from Kenya who pushed himself to the top of his class at App Academy and ended up reaching for the stars.

Always interested in creating things and taking them apart, Deep decided to pursue a puzzle-filled programming career a bit later, at 26, than many of his colleagues. But the full story of how he got there and succeeded is really interesting.

A Desire for Something More

Deep Tailor graduated from App Academy in December of 2016 and is now working at NASA.
Deep Tailor graduated from App Academy in December of 2016 and is now working at NASA.

Deep Tailor attended Purdue University for his undergraduate degree, studying finance and playing on the men’s soccer team. While he was there, he believed he’d go into finance because people in his family were also financiers. He worked as a wealth management advisor for Northwestern Mutual right after college, but soon realized he didn’t have a passion for it.

“I switched to programming because I always loved to tinker with software/hardware. I liked to work on computers but never thought I had it in me to make a career out of it…I gave web development a chance and have not looked back since.”

Tailor wanted the coding bootcamp experience because he came to believe it would give him the personal boost he needed to fully dive into a software engineering career. His research into the various bootcamps, he said, found that day-to-day life at App Academy would challenge him to be the best in both technical and non-technical matters. He also appreciated App Academy’s deferred payment plan as a proper investment in his future and liked its record of successful alums

The Bootcamp Prep and Full-time Experience

Once he got into Bootcamp Prep, the level of personal teaching impressed Deep. His class was small, which let the instructor work closely with every student. Quickly, he caught on to the coding being taught and through Bootcamp Prep, learned helpful information for his full-time application.

After getting accepted and enrolling in the full-time program, Tailor was soon submerged in code. It was all he thought about for twelve weeks, and through the weekly tests, felt himself truly challenged, as was promised. But he was surrounded by passionate people, all extremely motivated to learn, and felt his own motivation and passion grow everyday he was there.

The constant use of pair-programming also helped Tailor learn both the technical concepts as well as the communication skills needed to convey his ideas and code. It’s still something he uses working as a NASA coder.

Launching Himself Into NASA

Although App Academy taught him many things, Tailor’s biggest takeaway became his ability to pick up coding languages and throw himself into his work, allowing him to find solutions to any problem. This helped him immensely as he received interviews from companies around San Francisco.

After graduating from the course, Tailor worked as a full stack contract developer for a few months to hone his programming proficiency. Then he received three competing offers: two similar ones from Nokia and FutureAdvisor, and an impressive $125,000 offer from the rocketheads at NASA.

“I wasn’t really about space before. But NASA has always been the epitome of the company to work for, the organization to be in, because their reach is so far beyond anything else,” he told us.

He took the job and has been there more than a year, still very happy. Deep finds it both a technical and creative challenge every day. As part of a five-person team, Tailor has a fair bit of independence, working remotely three days a week and coming into the lab twice a week.

Currently, he works on the software that NASA mission control uses when operating space probes. His team created the first multi-mission control software, which can be tailored to any mission. This includes two recent satellites heading to Mars, called MarCO A and MarCO B.

Most excitingly, the $1.5 billion NASA Parker Solar Probe mission also uses the software Tailor and his team designed. Just this week, the Solar Probe lit up the sky “in a flash of brilliant orange,” as described by Space.com, on its way to “the sun’s outer atmosphere, or corona, 24 times over the next seven years.” The probe will run at 430,000 mph (690,000 km/h) and will help the agency find why the corona is hotter than the solar surface, as well as the reason why particles in the solar wind accelerate the way they do.

Tailor plans on staying with NASA for a while, excited to see how the code he programmed performs and eager to see what the probes send back. He also plans on participating in the cryptocurrency market with some friends, though the time when that technology’s valuation will go into the stratosphere isn’t as certain.

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