letchner_circleCrop.jpg

Who Am I?

I am an engineer and a teacher, a Ph.D. and a mother, a feminist and a spouse. My grandmother missed the point. 

Growing up, my grandmother frequently told me, "Julie, there are numbers people and there are word people, and you are a word person." She wasn’t entirely wrong. Family photos show my parents and brother engaged in some adventure (sailing, swimming), with me reading in the background, oblivious and content. I wrote poems inside birthday cards. My essay about axolotls in Zoo Life magazine made me briefly famous among my seventh-grade classmates. I loved, and still do, the process of crystallizing ideas into an orderly flow on a page. I loved, and still do, the idea that words can inspire, teach, or persuade. 

But as a child I disagreed with my grandmother. I declared myself a numbers person through and through, down to my (square) roots. Numbers are satisfyingly objective. You can prove facts with them, build bridges with them, launch rockets on their backs. My mother recently unearthed an entire box full of logic and math puzzle books from my youth, each one meticulously completed. I attended physics camp for fun. I loved, and still do, the process of breaking down a problem, solving it, and proving that the solution works. I loved, and still do, the idea that numbers and logic relate us to our physical world and give us a means to understand and reshape it.

As a young adult, I learned about false dichotomies and stopped arguing about what kind of person I am. I also stumbled into a career in computer science, when my introductory college programming course felt like a homecoming. Nearly twenty years and a Ph.D. later, I still love my chosen field. It doesn’t always love me back.

As a less-young adult, I married my husband, Seth. We have three little boys and three hundred little trucks. 

I am a numbers person and a word person. I am a computer scientist and a teacher. I am a Ph.D. and a mother. I am a feminist and a spouse. 

For more about this blog, look here