Phil Gardner / References

University of Colorado, Boulder

At the University of Colorado, I was very fortunate to study under Paul Smolensky. Dr. Smolensky is a world leader in Neural Networks, an area of Artificial Intelligence within Computer Science. He taught me to always strive for the best. His Advanced Neural Networks course was probably the best course I have ever had. It was during this course that I really began to understand how to ask the right questions, which is often harder and more important than finding the answers.

In a reference letter dated November 2nd, 1988, Dr. Smolensky wrote:

Phil's sincere dedication to his teaching and research is far, far above his peers and, quite frankly, I find it inspirational myself. He takes great pride in his teaching, which he obviously enjoys, and on which he expends a great deal of time and energy. He has so impressed and motivated his undergraduate students that some of them have, completely on their own initiative, approached Phil to ask if they could further pursue their studies by doing research under his guidance. I have to admit I was quite reluctant at first to encourage him to undertake such a responsibility at his early stage of career, but, once again, Phil has taught me a valuable lesson. His supervision of two undergraduates doing state-of-the-art research in a highly technical field (neural networks for artificial intelligence) has been an outstanding success. He took them under his wing, supervised their background reading, gave them lectures, and in the process significantly strengthened his own command of the material. He now supervises their actual research with an impressive degree of organization and responsibility, and the results have been nothing short of amazing. At the same time that he so diligently runs his undergraduate class and supervises his undergraduate research students, he also runs our research group meeting (involving about a dozen faculty and student researchers), excels in a difficult course in the linguistics department which he is taking to deepen his preparation for his PhD.research, and even runs a major research project which he organized on his own to enhance the software environment for our whole research group.

Magnavox from August 1990 to July 1993

Magnavox hired me in August of 1990 in the role of X/Motif consultant. They had a large government project (AFATDS) that required designing and building hundreds of Motif forms but had no in-house X/Motif talent.

Working on this project was a very good experience. It was a very large project (both in the number of software engineers and the number of lines of source code) and was very well organized. I learned a lot from this project!

During 2 of the 3 years I was at Magnavox, my supervisor was Richard Howard. Rick gave me many interesting and challenging assignments, esp. during the time I was officially his "staff engineer." As staff engineer, I was responsible for technical leadership of all the software engineers in Rick's team. I feel that I grew as an engineer and as a leader under his guidance! In a reference letter he wrote for me on the 30th day of July, 1993 he had this to say.

I have worked with Phil Gardner for the past three years at Magnavox on the Advanced Field Artillery Tactical Data System (AFATDS) Command and Control System. For two of those three years, I was Phil's supervisor. During this time, Phil has impressed me with his technical knowledge, his continuous commitment to excellence, and his consistent ability to get the job done right and on time. Phil is dependable, level headed, and a team player. He has an extensive knowledge of the X Window System, Unix, the C language, and has become proficient in the Ada language while here at Magnavox.

Phil has excellent communications skills, as witnessed by his ability to conduct in-house seminars for both AFATDS engineers and trainers. It takes a special engineer, such as Phil, to successfully 'train the trainers' as he did in February, 1992, in the use of a software tool which he developed for our project.

Phil will be sorely missed on our project. He will prove to be a valuable member of any organization in which he becomes involved.

Digital Equipment Corporation

During the summer of 1994, I created and taught several classes for Digital Equipment Corporation's Government Systems Group in Europe. I taught at the Warrior Preparation Center in Einsiedlerhof A.S. Germany (a U.S. Air Force base) where Digital provides computer systems and on-site support. They hired me because they wanted "an engineer who could teach" rather than someone from academia that might know the theory but have limited on-the-job experience.

For these classes, I created all the overhead slides and decided upon the student exercises. Don Rye, one of their on-site engineers, did an excellent job of getting the equipment ready and loaded with the required software. I then taught using the overhead slides.

Gary Comer, their Business Development Manager, had this to say in a reference letter he wrote on January 24th, 1995.

Phil Gardner has delivered several customized training courses for Digital Equipment Corporation's Government Systems Group in Europe. We have found these classes to be extremely valuable. Phil's technical expertise, course preparation, and delivery style have placed him as one of our most sought-after consultants. He is without question dedicated to providing an outstanding learning experience in a supportive environment.

We look forward to future business dealings with Phil and would recommend him to any organization.

Lockheed Martin's Advanced Concepts Center

I worked for Lockheed Martin (then called Martin Marietta) at Federal Express (with which Martin had a contract to provide engineering support) in Memphis, TN from December 1993 to April 1994. I provided Object-Oriented Analysis and Design (using Rumbaugh notation) and C++ programming support.

This job did not involve any teaching. Instead, I was in charge of many projects which involved interactions with other engineers and with Federal Express employees (who served as domain experts). This was a good experience in seeing a project through from the beginning to the end and assuring end-user satisfaction.

My manager during part of this time was Thomas Murray. In a reference letter dated January 14, 1994, Tom wrote:

In the time that Phil has been a member of the team he has demonstrated a thorough understanding of C++ development. His dedication, positive attitude and development skills have made him a valuable member of the development team. Phil has been more than willing to share his years of experience with other members of the team. He does not hesitate to offer positive suggestions outside of his area of responsibility. He has shown the ability to develop creative solutions and to quickly implement these solutions with well-written and well-documented code.

I would not hesitate to employ Mr. Gardner on a future project if the opportunity arose.

Having worked for Martin Marietta in the past and having a proven track record as an instructor at the University of Colorado and in Germany for Digital Equipment Corp. lead to an offer to go through the certification process of Martin's Advanced Concepts Center.

During the certification process where I was getting certified to teach Lockheed Martin's Object-Oriented Analysis class, I co-taught with Vince Bordo. This occurred during the week of April 17th, 1995. At this point, Vince Bordo had been an instructor for Lockheed Martin's Advanced Concepts Center for over one and a half years and was one of their star instructors. His job was to watch my teaching and keep careful notes. After watching me, he told me

When you have finished a chart, you have covered everything and everything is crystal clear.

Vince also said that all that I said was technically accurate. He did recommend to his supervisor that I be certified to teach this class and as a result, I was indeed certified.

Worldwide Computer Solutions, Inc.

I started my own teaching company in late 1994. I have written several courses including a 3-day Java course. Here are some comments about me from the students for courses ranging from a 5-day Perl class to a 3-day Java class.


I worked at Jeppesen for about a year as a contractor (paid hourly). They liked my work so much that they offered me a direct position (in November 1997) on an exciting project to develop software which would automate the drawing of their aviation charts. Here is what my supervisor said in an evaluation.

Major Strengths:

Phil has lived up to all of my expectations as a member of the JAM [Jeppesen Aviation Mapping] team. He has quickly become a valued team member and the bedrock on which the team has built. He has proven time and time again that he has very strong software development skills and knowledge by aiding the team in developing elegant yet cost effective solutions to challenging technical problems.

Areas needing improvement:

Phil's strengths by far over shadow any weakness or area that needs improvement. The following are some suggestions on areas that Phil could focus to continue to improve as technical lead.

Fiserv Correspondent Services (FCS)

I worked at FCS from March 1999 to May 2001. FCS provides "back office" support for stock brokerage companies. FCS had a Tandem mainframe with hardwired connections to several stock exchanges. Small stock brokerage companies which cannot themselves afford a seat on an exchange used our system to enter their trades and hold the stock accounts.

My first boss was Dave Cole. He had the following to say in an evaluation dated September 14, 1999. Note that he left not very long after this and was never replaced. Also, his boss left. (At this point, I reported directly to a VP of the company; so, I never got any more evaluations.)

Phil is very competent technically, and has worked very hard to learn about the brokerage industry. He has come up to speed very quickly, learning new development tools and new operating environments.
Phil is very conscientious about the quality of his work and it is reflected by the lack of problems in his software.
Phil is very thorough in his planning. He never goes into a project without knowing what the expected outcome is. He is always cognizant of priorities, and whenever he has a question regarding them, always seeks clarification.
This is an area in which Phil has excelled. I did not anticipate that he would not only become productive so quickly with the functional (business) aspects of the Java application, but also, at the same time, greatly improve the performance and reliability of the application.
Phil has shown himself to be creative by coming up with a number of solutions to a problem, then assessing each one as to whether or not it would fit in our current environment. I expect him to come up with even more creative and innovative solutions as his understanding of the brokerage business and our software systems expand.
Phil is a professional, and his dependability is a reflection of that. There has never been a problem with his punctuality, attendance, etc. Phil can always be relied upon to do whatever work is assigned to him, and then some.
Phil has an easy-going personality, and has fit in nicely with the development staff. He freely offers assistance to other employees, and accepts criticism and help without complaint.