Github and guitars
Coding and music come together for the Miller Center's Miles Efron
[Read the full story at UVA Today]
The back-end web developer of the University of Virginia’s Miller Center of Public Affairs has a few unexpected tricks up his sleeve. Not only has Miles Efron played the guitar since he was a child in the San Francisco Bay area, he is now known among his friends as the go-to creator of custom electric guitars.
During the day you can find Efron in the Miller Center’s basement, ensuring the database and software for its website is running smoothly. That’s his “bread and butter,” as he calls it. However, that only takes up half of his time on the job. The other half consists of assorted projects, such as backing up hundreds of terabytes of video footage or writing software for the more than 30,000 presidential recordings that are housed on the website.
“I always have my hand in a few things going on simultaneously and sometimes it can even get more exotic,” he said. “[During] the Presidential Ideas Festival, I got to piggyback with some of my colleagues and do camera work.”
With a career so deeply rooted in an understanding of computer programming, it may come as a surprise to know that Efron graduated from Occidental College in Los Angeles with a degree in English. So how did he pivot from literature to computer science?
“It was when I came back after [graduate] school, I had this job at Stanford [University] where they needed someone who could read Latin and translate Latin and program,” he said. “I guess somewhere along the line I had learned just enough programming that I could squeak my way in the door, and then I started taking classes in computer science and just kind of boot-strapped my way up from there.”
Efron used his knowledge of natural language and his passion for the philosophy of language to improve the performance of search engines. He described his work as the “magic” between typing in a query and receiving a list of results.