Thomas Kurek’s creations, inventions, and research, in reverse chronological order, with a tinge of humor:
The Facebook & Google Killer (2015 – present)
Thomas’ ultimate creation is also the one he will speak of the least. Using the concepts and ontology of culture that he developed for Alvarism, he has conceived of a new social media system that will obviate Facebook, Twitter, Google, Instagram, and the other outdated social media technologies.
It can do this because it does not seek to corrupt its domain objectives with desperation for revenues from popularity bias, traffic-dependent capitalization, and an ill-conceived theoretical basis in the inadequate “social graph.” It also does not have perverted valuation of cultural and social meaning from inferior comprehension of culture.
All of the artificial intelligence (AI) in the world will not salvage the major tech companies’ failures, because they have hired groupthinking, inadequate scholars to define what the machines learn. When the machines learn from the larger mob of users, the input is also corrupted. Garbage in, garbage out is a tech axiom that must be abided at all times. The AI of the major tech companies cannot succeed. Alvarism’s extemporaneous and erudite cultural model is the only basis upon which social media innovation can progress in real terms.
Chief Information Officer for Triangle Experience Group – Spatial Computing and Collaborative software for JSOC, JCS, & NRO (2017)
You’ve seen Hollywood depictions of military heroism. A few of those veterans hired Thomas to save their company from a precarious situation, with his CIO talents. Flawed corporate structuring and unnecessary IP disputes plagued the company and nearly brought them to a halt. Thomas managed a stopgap vendor, integration of their technology, acquisitions, Enterprise Architecture, logistics, and management of the engineers.
When he arrived, source code was hanging around on random machines, not protected in source code control. There were no backups on the network. There were no network models. The engineers did not even know what machines were available or what the servers were doing. There were inadequate machines for development. There was a warehouse-stockpile of unused computer parts and superfluous devices. Their only network engineer lacked the knowledge to do important tasks – he even suggested that the company hire an assembly line of interns to manually configure computers with STIGs (security configuration).
Thomas introduced them to configuration management and replication services for open source operating systems and Microsoft systems. He interviewed, trained, and hired technical personnel. He collected the corporate records in a records management file plan to restore the corporate veil. He proposed superior contracts.
He managed the cybersecurity & IA employees to obtain ATO for their technologies, which were field tested at Ft. Bragg. He conducted code reviews and guidance for the software engineers on Spatial Computing and Collaborative Computing projects. He selected and deployed project management and inventory tracking systems. He managed vendors for enterprise acquisitions and licensing.
When the company could not obtain EoY funding, the CEO had to make a tough tradeoff. He chose to spend money on polishing the technologies instead of maturing the infrastructure and technology human capital. A recently dissolved competitor had been jettisoned by DoD, and the TEG CEO acquired their inventor, despite the fact that the DoD had found no use for his inventions by dint of their dissolution. The laid-off inventor for the rejected company was tasked with polishing TEG’s technologies.
Thomas was of the opinion that the technology could be less polished and the contract officers in DoD were holding back because they did not trust the readiness of the tech team. A number of contacts in DoD confirmed Thomas’ opinion. High-level Officers would only look at Thomas in meetings, because Thomas was the only one who articulately spoke the language of high-tech business.
Nevertheless, TEG forged on, and Thomas left the company with high hopes for the CEO’s gamble on a different strategy – polished technology without a formally structured tech human capital and infrastructure. Thomas retains the utmost respect and admiration for all of his colleagues at TEG.
He visited the CEO’s farm one hot and sweaty day in the summer of 2017:
Alvarism, LLC – Economic and Cultural Postgraduate Research, Authorship, Think Tank (2013 – Present)
Since high school, Thomas was conducting cultural research. He added economic research to his activities after college and throughout his career.
Thomas predicted the economic recession of 2008, major industry events with his entrepreneurship in MYnstrel, Inc. He was dumbfounded by the US government’s myopic policies of debt and perversion of the monetary supply, from 2008 to present day.
Starting in 2011, Thomas spent over 3,000 hours researching accurate economics and cultural data to reform the global economic and sociopolitical failures. The first result became an absolute repudiation of the overhyped dirigiste French economist Thomas Piketty’s book Capital in the Twenty-First Century.
That total repudiation is published in Thomas’ first book, Economic Sovereignty: Prosperity in a Free Society. It is one of four textbooks for this reformation of economy and culture. It addresses industry, jobs, taxation, personal finance, the economic history of the USA, and ideological visions that influence economic misconceptions through politics. It also offers a revolution for measuring wealth and income, which has profound impacts on the future of taxation and mitigation of poverty. Although the text reads fluidly, the unprecedented empirical research is also published in the hard evidence of 100 charts in the appendices, which are cited throughout the book.
Thomas gave speeches in the US Senate and various private forums and board rooms on his research for Alvarism. His second book, written but not yet published, addresses industrial approaches to criminal justice, national security, espionage, transactional culture, healthcare, and demography (including immigration). His third and fourth book address the conceptual aspects of culture from an industrial and interpersonal perspective. He has given briefings on the content of the third and fourth book, but they are not yet written.
The ultimate goal of Alvarism is not just to disseminate the rare knowledge of economics and culture – it is to influence policy makers, voters, nonprofits, and to ultimately found a college program for alvarism, and a secondary private school that is based on the classical education model.
Alvarism will also develop data and web systems to disseminate the voluminous reports, economic models, and data, to assist policy makers, investors, researchers, and students. Alvarism has also developed a new social media system to replace Google, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and the rest of the outdated social technologies.
Alvarism is also currently developing video production capacity to reach people who prefer video and audio instead of reading.
Alvarism will collaborate with any partners who believe in the vision and can contribute to its fruition – the college program, the school, the media studio, the data mining, and/or the social media system.
Thomas is also willing to cooperate with a university that is willing to issue an honorary PhD for his scholarship published in Economic Sovereignty, and future Alvarism books.
Sam Harris and Jordan Peterson recently engaged in four hours of debate in Toronto, Ontario. They call themselves scientists, but I’ve rarely seen volumes of unique empirical work from them. I consider them to be philosophers using rationalist epistemology, not scientists. I respect them. They have great value to offer, to be sure, but their rhetorical and conceptual approach resides in ideation rather than tested reality. They say that the global political, educational, social, and journalistic integrity has broken down and will be replaced. They are right about that.
However, it will not be assisted exclusively by rhetorical ideation. Philosophy is only one domain that is needed for advancement of culture and economics across the globe. Alvarism’s approach involves rationalism (JP and SH’s approach), empiricism, and perennialism. Three epistemologies, all required for every single inquiry Alvarism engages.
Alvarism is an innovation that will benefit humanity in every aspect of existence.
One of Thomas’ heroes, Buzz Aldrin, attended two of his speeches in the US Senate. Another audience member snapped a photo of Thomas speaking with Aldrin watching the PowerPoint:
The OMEGA Business Model (MYnstrel, Inc. 2007 – 2017)
OMEGA happens to have a revolutionary solution to economic misconceptions about robotics and automation. Socialists, syndicalists, and leftist economists (Keynesians) say that they are concerned with automation destroying jobs and making people poor. What are they doing to solve it besides proferring the utterly banal and low IQ conception of robbing other taxpayers to redistribute money with foolish schemes like UBI (universal basic income)?
The OMEGA business model puts capital in the hands of people who don’t have capital to invest. It makes them owners of production goods of the second and higher orders. That makes “the poor” owners of production based on their own contributions of what they have to offer, which can come in conjunction with wages and salaries, or in lieu.
The OMEGA model is not just a hydrogen bomb for the inferior conceptions of redistribution in response to automation, it was conceived for a company with little capital and supreme expertise. How was it conceived?
A challenge for MYnstrel, Inc. was how to distribute stock and raise capital for the startup phase of the corporation. No venture capital? No wealthy friends? No problem! OMEGA only requires moral, professional, competent, and ambitious people. The OMEGA business model was another instance of Thomas’ “get out of my way” approaches to leadership and invention. His approach was a pure repudiation of the constraints of inferior market and bureaucratic systems, forging ahead with what’s available to redefine startup companies in the process.
After researching the successes and downfalls of many tech entrepreneurs, Thomas invented the Open Meritorious Entrepreneurial Grassroots Autonomy (OMEGA). It allows consultants to acquire their stake in the company based upon services-in-kind and valued at market rates, in an open manner.
The driving principles of the business system:
- Open (Minimize information asymmetry within the corporation, with quantitative and analytical open reporting to all consultants, partners, owners, directors, officers, and employees)
- Meritorious (All valuation of goods and services based on market rates and accurately logged work session time)
- Entrepreneurial (All projects focused on capturing niches in the market, innovation, and avoiding typical failures in startup companies)
- Grassroots (No hostile investors with ulterior motives – all participants in the corporation must be mission-oriented and have a long-term stake in the goals and objectives. No sellouts, no accepting capital from investors with ulterior motives and short-term interests)
- Autonomy (Because all valuation of capital, goods, and services is accurate, fair, and based on market rates rather than coercive back-channel valuation that exploits information asymmetry, the organization naturally distributes clout within the organization to its rightful steward)
Their veteran corporate attorney guided Thomas’ invention towards the proper legal instruments by giving him hundreds of pages of contracts and a few pieces of advice.
Thomas turned his business system conception and the legal instruments into a reality. In addition to the contracts, he programmed a custom business system, mixing sophisticated reporting (SQL Server Reporting Services), database (SQL Server), project management system (like Redmine or MS Project Server), excel spreadsheet integration, and user interface, to automate the complexities of the OMEGA business model and calculations.
MYnstrel, Inc. – Enterprise Systems for Global Music Promotion, Licensing, Management, Commerce, and Musician Creative Collaboration (2007 – 2017)
Thomas combined his knowledge of music composition, production, theory and performance with his executive management, economics, and technology expertise to form MYnstrel.
Collaborating with ten partners over the course of ten years, averaging 27 hours per week for MYnstrel, on top of his day job (40 hours), he achieved incredible feats.
Executive management duties comprised half of his efforts – corporate minute book, promissory notes, shareholder agreements, restricted share awards, nondisclosure agreements, annual reports, balance sheets, RoI, asset planning, finance, budget, project initiation and approval.
He succeeded in obtaining a federal trademark from the USPTO for six classes of goods and services.
He developed a Filing Plan (Records Management) for the 4,928 documents they generated from business operations.
Thomas’ also is the mastermind behind MYnstrel’s technology. He invented:
- Systems for artist management
- Artist creative collaboration
- Artist artificial intelligence producer guidance
- Music marketing, promotion, and journalism
- Music technical assessment
- Social media platform (MusicGraph, customized social media for music promulgation)
- Knowledge Taxonomy System for lyrics
- Psychological models with relationships implemented in polar coordinates for the emotive grading of music
- Quantitative analysis of music for profitability and discovery
- Archival system to manage entire catalogs of music for distribution, metadata, and file-package processing.
The technologies and major domains Thomas used for MYnstrel prototypes include:
- SQL Server & T-SQL
- Excel integration with .NET
- .NET Framework
- Vector geometry
- Signals Processing Toolbox (MATLAB)
- Asynchronous programming & console app integration for background tasks
- Music composition, theory, commerce, licensing, commodification, performance, touring
- E-commerce, social media system design, social graph, logistics and fulfillment systems, cybersecurity, file & data I/O (archival software), web services and communications, content management systems, financial and business management software design
The prototypes for MYnstrel remain successful and open for partnership and investment. The remaining goal is to acquire $10-25M to turn the designs and prototypes into production systems, bringing them to market and forever transforming the global music industry into an enabler of pure and sincere culture that connects people in more meaningful ways! The three transnational umbrella companies that control over 95% of music sales have destroyed global music culture. Only MYnstrel can rescue music by unifying independent music businesses and artists with technology.
CONSULTANT (Enterprise Systems Design and Development, Executive Management, Business & Technology Generalist Analytical Services), for FBI, Department of Defense, Medicaid, and the State of New Jersey (2008 – 2013)
Health Services for Children with Special Needs (HSCSN)
While his Top Secret clearance was processed, he served HSCSN (a Washington DC Children’s Healthcare system). He invented and built three technologies in six months. One was a reporting system that could make them compliant with the demanding Medicaid requirements from DC MAA. He used SQL Server Reporting Services as the platform to achieve the result.
Thomas designed a medical provider portal with disambiguated medical coding routines as a substitute for McKesson, since HSCSN could not afford that. The system was greatly needed in order to connect patients, doctors, billing, and services within the large healthcare provider organization. Thomas used SQL Server, ASP.NET, Microsoft Enterprise Library, Windows Presentation Foundation, Telerik, and AJAX for the system.
He also designed a system for the pharmacy to automate their prescriptions for children who entered through the ER. They were using spreadsheets at the time, and no engineers were willing to touch them because they were scared of the liability.
Thomas had not done organic and inorganic chemistry for a few years, but the formulae were incredibly simple to him, just using dimensional analysis. He programmed the formulas into the new system, and discovered that they were overdosing children with two drugs because of the erroneous spreadsheet formulary. The Chief Medical Officer approved his design and formulae right before he was assigned to the Pentagon. He reported to the Chief Information Officer of HSCSN, Gene Greer, a former NASA genius, for most of his work on the Contract.
E-Discovery White Paper for State of New Jersey
In 2008, the status of e-Discovery for legal affairs was chaotic at best. When a large organization, with millions of documents and emails across terabytes of data were subject to legal discovery, how do they comply with court orders without freezing their servers and bringing their digital infrastructure to a halt? The State of New Jersey brought such a problem to AIS.
Thomas was the one who was tasked with solving the problem. He poured through hundreds of documents and proceedings from law professors and judges across the nation to invent a model for e-Discovery. In a 50-page document, Thomas’ whitepaper showed how e-Discovery on top of Microsoft Exchange Server, and Microsoft SharePoint could be achieved, and all of the domain-problems it would have to resolve in order to function correctly.
An employee of AIS with an MBA, in technical sales, requested Thomas’ to give him a copy of the whitepaper. He wasn’t particularly bright. Nevertheless, he interviewed with Microsoft a week later, and left AIS to work in Microsoft’s SharePoint team for e-Discovery development (which was a new project back then). This is how an inventor like Thomas changes the world, through the envy and guile of others who hang out in his vicinity.
MicroSoft now has an e-Discovery section of SharePoint for their customers. Thomas’ whitepaper was likely the foundational design for that system. Thomas never pursued the shady circumstances, because for him and the company, there was no conflict of interest. Thomas’ inventions were assigned to AIS, under any circumstance, so Thomas did not care what they did with the IP, per his contractual duty.
AIS owners likely, and gladly made an exchange for a quid pro quo, as partners do so often.
Thomas also assisted the State of New Jersey with Records Management integration with Microsoft SharePoint.
FBI Proposal for Gang Interdiction, and Field Office Reporting (Microsoft InfoPath with SharePoint)
The FBI hired AIS for years to develop their field reporting technologies. AIS used customized software, built on top of MicroSoft SharePoint and InfoPath integration to enable sophisticated automation and workflows for the FBI. Thomas contributed to the web services designs and various server code modules for a short time.
Thomas also wrote a proposal for a new FBI system to interdict gang activity. They were soliciting bids, and Thomas’ design was the best. Every other competitor only could use keywords for gang symbols, graffiti, hand signals, logos, colors, attire, etc.
The problem with functional illiteracy across the entire globe, to Thomas, meant that any submission of ad-hoc descriptions of visual items via keywords would be a massive failure in the system design. There is no way for thousands of agents across the US to invent the correct verbal phrases for definition and search in order to collaborate on gang interdiction.
Thomas had recently used the US PTO’s trademark system for his own company’s branding. He was impressed with the heuristics of the system, which used a coding ontology to accurately discover very similar logos from innumerable US companies and brands.
The ontological heuristic was the way forward for the FBI, communicating visual clues for gang interdiction. Although Thomas’ design was the best, AIS lost the bid for what the CEO described as “lobbying and political” disadvantages. Centralized power so often ruins business and technological progress, and this was one of many examples.
Thomas’ Top Secret security clearance was approved and he was assigned to serve the Pentagon, Undersecretary of Defense for Policy (USDP). He was then based in Rosslyn, VA, and shuttled to the Pentagon weekly for deployment of his inventions, and interactions with stakeholders.
Thomas conceived of a collaboration between various technology departments within the DoD which had to cooperate with the Policy directorate. He called it the Chief Information Officer, Inter(O)rganizational Collaborative (CIOIOC). On a monthly basis, for two years, he brought together the CIOs of these various technology departments so that they could collaborate on initiatives, share agency-wide behind-closed-door issues and events, and learn from each other.
Thomas did not desire the USDP technology to become Byzantine and pedantic as ITIL certification would surely entail. But the organization required improvements that ITIL would bring, if treated as guidelines and a smorgasbord instead of a doctrine. Thomas reviewed the ITIL materials in full and implemented targeted improvements for the technology service providers within the contract.
Thomas remains a huge fan of Steve McConnell (Code Complete, Rapid Development, Software Estimation, CxOne), Karl Wiegers (Software Requirements, Practical Project Initiation), BABOK, PMBOK, and SWEBOK.
As a storied Technology Designer and inventor, Thomas prefers to synthesize encyclopedic knowledge of professional standards, in pure pragmatism, rather than become a slave to the doctrinaire and orthodoxy which is so common in the certification mill. The certification mill services the masses of typical professionals, but it constrains those with exceptional ability for memorization, conceptualization, synthesis, and advanced business management, analytical, and design methodology.
Thomas prefers to pour through these references and use them tactically in every organizational challenge.
Financial Analysis ($10M annual savings for DoD USDP)
Because Thomas has extensive experience with running small businesses, as a CEO for a startup company, his clients at DoD Policy asked him to review communications billing waste.
The Policy directorate had many employees deployed across the globe, and their cell phone solutions included SME-PEDs. When the budget was reduced, they sought many ways to reduce expenses to maintain operational requirements.
Using just a little programming, excel spreadsheets, and a number of solicitations to the cellular companies, Thomas saved DoD Policy $10M per year in wasted cell phone expenditures, by juxtaposing usage patterns to optimal service plan changes.
SCIF Management Suite
Extensive regulations govern the operations and management of Sensitive Compartmented Information Facilities. Thomas designed a software suite with SQL Server, WPF desktop apps, and web services to automate many of the tedious tasks.
Thousands of users in the Pentagon throughout dozens of SCIFs benefited from the system.
An incredibly interesting man who went by the alias of “Ivory,” was deployed in communist East Berlin during the Cold War, for intelligence operations. As a black man in East Berlin, his success was particularly challenging, but as a valliant and brilliant man, he came back alive and victorious. Many of his colleagues did not.
He imagined that physical security, the Byzantine micro-management of cleared personnel for particular programs into which they were indoctrinated, and their access to certain information and facilities, and mission delegation could be handled digitally and rapidly. The physical files were tedious, and the DoD-wide clearance systems were inadequate for critical tasks.
Thomas was the mastermind behind the software system that achieved this goal. The rest is classified.
SW & SCIFMS Integration
After successfully inventing and developing the two enterprise systems – Security Workdesk and the SCIF Management Suite, Thomas had the idea that the data had advanced applications if integrated in a third system.
After studying counterintelligence and espionage textbooks for two years on the job, Thomas understood how particular functions remained unsatisfied within the cleared personnel. He met with a counterintelligence officer and Ivory to propose his ideas.
The counterintelligence function of the system would use artificial intelligence to infer patterns of risks emerging from data collected by SW and SCIFMS. Thomas built a prototype, but left AIS, prior to its testing and deployment.
DARPA Secret-level Classification iPads
Thomas was assigned to project management for early-generation iPads for the top officials in DoD USDP. He collaborated with the DARPA teams that modified the devices for security, deployed, and managed the usage of the devices within his directorate.
MobiKEY & Remote Access Program
Remote secure access from normal computers was both a cost-saving, and quality initiative. Users could access classified networks remotely, from their own devices. Thomas was the program manager for the pilot across DoD USDP.
It’s funny how few photos a person takes while working in classified offices, isn’t it? I found one from a company party. There might be others from a few company parties somewhere.
This is Bill. He is a great software engineer, a great debater who loved playing atheist (him) vs. Christian (me), and a bassist who enjoyed playing heavy metal. I called him BEEEL BEEELOCHEK in an Eric Cartman voice, because we were always laughing about South Park satire, and the episode that mocked NFL cheating was a particularly funny one during our time working together.
Enterprise Systems for Communications Commerce, InPhonic & Simplexity (2006 – 2008)
Remember a time before national cell phone and cell phone service was systematically available for easy shopping and transitioning? Remember a time before 96% of Americans owned cell phones? In 2006, only a little over half of Americans owned cell phones.
InPhonic, later restructured into Simplexity, was a company that greatly assisted the penetration of cell phones from 55% to 96%, using e-commerce, logistics, distribution, and value-added financing, sales, and marketing services.
Thomas was hired as one of the six Enterprise Architects to produce software designs and requirements specifications for the hundreds of software, systems, and network engineers who worked in the Goldman Sachs company of 1,300 employees. You might remember the huge banner ads on MSN.com for WireFly (which cost the company $5M per month to run). Those were ours!
Thomas invented many systems in a short time for the company. Working with marketing and sales, he designed solutions for coupons, incentives, and campaigns, optimizing sales while ensuring profitability.
Thomas also integrated systems for Customer Service scripts, help desk, and sales.
Thomas designed improvements to the fulfillment and logistics system, for cell phone purchases and service orders, and optimizing the warehouse and distribution workflows.
Thomas’ last project for InPhonic was a hail-Mary throw for the failing company. They sent him into the Finance Department to analyze the accounts and data in Microsoft Great Plains. The company was going bankrupt and nobody understood the reasons. There was one woman who handled collections with a single experience, which became the one clue Thomas used to use technical analysis in order to sleuth out the exact root cause failure.
She said that it did not matter how much she reached out for collections, because it cost more to collect on a phone agreement that was violated than it did to just let the phone go and write it off as a loss.
She couldn’t prove her theory, but it was her experience as the person tasked with running collections on people who failed to keep their cell phone plan long enough for their big discounts or “free” phones. Readers of Economic Sovereignty will laugh at the term “free.”
As it turned out, the business model of InPhonic was created on a flawed economic model. If they had employed Thomas from the start to develop a sound business model, they would never have gone bankrupt. Thomas quickly assembled the data from disparate financial systems, and proved exactly how much money the company was losing on each sale of cell phones and cell phone plans.
The sales were never loss leaders. The more they sold, the more they depleted their capital. Thomas also showed how the marketing team’s accelerated sales exacerbated the problem, leading to exponential losses. It was that exponential loss, after the deployment of the incentives and coupon programs that caused the executives to finally acknowledge that the losses were not anomalies.
Thomas’ discoveries helped the company in its bankruptcy, when they reformed as Simplexity, so that they could more intelligently design their business model to be profitable.
Although Thomas was offered a promotion to Director, he chose to take another offer for a premier Microsoft partner, software engineering consulting firm instead.
Enterprise Systems for International Real Estate Management, IHR (2004 – 2006)
Hired by a global hotel management firm, as Software Engineer II, Thomas was given projects for their subsidiary, BridgeStreet, to build custom systems for their complex business model. They provided corporate housing solutions for nearly every major city in the world, and thousands of minor cities as well. The logistics of turning a profit for furnished, long-stay apartments of varied sizes is incredibly complicated.
After a few months, BridgeStreet was so dependent on Thomas’ inventions that they hired him directly. They gave him a small team to direct and promoted him to Senior Enterprise Architect, in which he would do more software and systems design and requirements work than programming.
Thomas designed and built a multi-lingual website in English, French, and Spanish, which had automated translation for all of the web text with a custom content management system and satellite assemblies. The website also allowed international partners to customize styles based on culture-optimal schemes.
Thomas integrated Microsoft MapPoint Web Services to help clients make sense of their prospective neighborhoods for their long-term foreign stays. Microsoft was so impressed with Thomas’ design that they did a case study on it. This was before geodetic services became mainstream and the software was very challenging for a small team to make excellent.
Thomas also automated BridgeStreet’s series of Profit & Loss sheets (P&L) for thousands of properties across the globe. Vacancy, opportunity costs, furnishings, warehousing, logistics, and labor for moving and cleaning were just some of the items the software could optimize.
Web Applications for US State Department (2003 – 2004)
At Chemonics International, we served primarily USAID within the US State Department. Thomas was part of a 50-person Business Solutions team, providing custom systems to support the business of the State Department contractors.
As a Software Engineer, he contributed code to the intranet portal which drove business workflows for State Department business.
He single-handedly developed web applications to enable e-commerce for poor workers in the South African Trade Hub (centered in Botswana). The web application helped to get their products and wares to an international market. Karen Roland was the envoy and subject matter expert who commissioned Thomas’ work (she is photoed in the navy blue jacket below).
Thomas also helped NRIC improve screen reader compatibility of State Department websites in conjunction with the National Federation of the Blind.
Physical Therapy Routines to Avoid Hip Fractures (2002)
We took four courses in Engineering Analysis of Physiologic Systems. In the fourth course, we had to contribute to a sophisticated endeavor – how to use computers to prevent falls that could break bones, hips, or worse. The professor used his few bright students to advance this large research project.
Thomas contributed code to synthesize the kinematic and force plate data of a test subject, falling and recovering their balance. The result instructed physical therapists on which muscles to strengthen in order to increase stability in the patient.
The injuries that the technology prevented at the time constituted more than a billion dollar liability to the health of Americans – primarily fatigued soldiers and the elderly.
Intraoperative Autologous Tissue Tester (2002-2003)
In his design project, he brought a group of physicians’ dream to life. He gave them a device that could tell them whether or not their tissue sample was suitable to use in a bioprosthetic heart valve.
With mechanical valves, the sheering forces upon the blood create clots and requires the patient to take blood thinners. With bioprosthetic valves, made from tissue, that could be avoided, but short mean time before failure (MTBF) makes them suboptimal. A large part of the infeasibility arises from the fact that tissue is viscoelastic – part fluid, part solid, with a nonlinear strain/rate curve.
His intraoperative device used moiré fringes, optics, and computational image processing in order to determine if the tissue sample has defects that would reduce the durability of the heart valve. It tells the surgeon the result so that they can choose a new sample when appropriate.
Much bovine pericardium was tested with other lab equipment, to corroborate the results of the new device. It does not emit the most pleasant smell in the lab.
Dr. Scott L. Hendricks provided oversight. His Biomaterials course was excellent as well. It taught us about materials used in prosthetics and biomedical engineering, from a material engineering perspective.
Materials Engineering Web Applications
The Many Creative Solutions to Engineering Problems (1999 – 2003)
You are given the dimensions and characteristics of a defect on a helicopter blade. Based on mechanics of materials, and deformable bodies, with the parameters of the helicopter and load, how fast, how high, and how long can it fly, and in what ambient conditions throughout the flight, in order to arrive at a military base safely? Use a safety factor of 2 in your model and contingencies for a safe flight.
A problem like this would have taken our professors a semester to answer without our computing power. We had to answer questions like this in one night, for just one class. We could do it because of computer programming, and we used MATLAB to answer such questions. Consummate creativity and synthesis were required every night to solve problems like this, and learn computer programming along the way as a tool for creation. These challenges keep our minds powerfully engaged during all our college days.
The Role Playing & Gaming Software (1999 – 2003)
Yes, while other students were inebriation themselves and spreading STDs and drug habits, Thomas and his geeky friends from computer science and engineering entertained themselves with classic Role Playing Games, like Rifts and Dungeons and Dragons. For the uninitiated, it is like interactive storytelling. A game master dreams up the environment, the key characters, and enemies and the other players invent their own characters to interact with the game master’s world. Some mechanics are involved with dice and combat, which of course, geeks love.
Through the process of interacting weekly with intelligent people from very different backgrounds, Thomas also learned how to create cultural bonds in disparate demographics. We had many constructive debates on sociopolitical ideology and religion.
Phuc was a first generation Vietnamese immigrant, hostile to religion. Dmitry was a first generation Russian immigrant, dismissive and disparaging towards religion. Colin was a registered communist (CPUSA), agnostic, whose parents were in the federal government. He applied to the CIA for an internship and they hired him, to tell you a little about the standards employed by the CIA. Yes, they did know about his communist registration, because they interviewed me for his clearance, and one of my many devotions, even in my younger years, was keeping enemies of the constitution out of positions of power and trust in our government. He looks like a commie, doesn’t he?
The Community (2000 – 2003)
Thomas’ student life leadership at Virginia Tech created supportive and active communities for students, excelling in their studies and supporting each other through residence life challenges. Thomas’ halls had abnormally low violations and community incidents.
His policy was “do not disturb your neighbors and there will be no referrals.” That rational enforcement policy led to openness and trust, which helped Thomas assist some residents with relationship issues, suicide, bulimia, family problems, and academics.
He was rehired year-after-year and spent sophomore to senior years in the Resident Advisor job, which paid for his room and board at Virginia Tech. Staff and residents:
The Music (1993 – Present)
Thomas’ first song styles were classic-rock mixed with progressive metal (Dream Theater) and 90s grunge. He wrote and recorded a twelve song hard rock album, and twelve more hard rock songs. He wrote a classical score for three guitars inspired by the love of his grandparents. He also wrote a 17-song concept album of dance songs inspired by world-music instrumentation and a dreamscape. He recorded another 26 compositions for classical guitar ensemble.
Thomas uses nylon, steel-string, and electric guitars, electric bass guitar, his bass vocals, drum pads, and keyboards to compose.
Photosynthetic Rates for Urban Planning (1997)
In High School, Thomas got the idea that particular trees would be optimal for urban environments. He took samples from trees in Virginia’s arboretum and compared their photosynthetic rates to that of trees in areas with varied population density and traffic. He received awards for the research at the Loudoun County Science Fair. Other scientists have contributed a great amount of discovery in regards to photosynthetic capacity since then.
Thomas received second place at the entire science fair – which is as competitive as Tokyo, within the Loudoun and Fairfax County suburbs of Washington DC. Unlike many of the students with PhD and STEM parental “assistance,” Thomas actually did his entire project entirely by himself. His father did drive him to the State Arboretum of Virginia to collect samples.
The Poetry & Stories 1987 – 2002 (occasional poems afterwards)
Thomas’ earliest creations were poems and short stories. His primary school teachers identified his exceptional talent in creative writing, prior to IQ testing in the 4th grade.