Welcoming Peter Bell to hackNY

This was originally posted on jessepollak.me by Jesse Pollak (2012 hackNY Fellow).

Over the summer, hackNY had the good fortune of welcoming Peter Bell for one of our weekly tech/entrepreneurship talks. He spoke to us about choosing the right technologies for a project and we all left with a better understanding of what it meant to be a technical decision maker.

At the November NYTM, hackNY announced that thanks to Speaker Quinn and the NYC City Council we will be welcoming Peter into the family in an even bigger way: he will be working with the wonderful Manya Ellenberg as an evangelist to expand the hackNY community, improve the 2013 hackNY fellows program and build out the technology that powers hackNY behind the scenes.

I had the good fortune of talking to Peter about why he decided to join hackNY as an evangelist. I asked some questions, he gave some answers, and we had a grand old time:

How did you first get involved with hackNY?

Originally Evan (Korth) asked me to present to his class at NYU. Shortly thereafter I got a chance to present for the fellows over the summer this year.

What made you want to work with hackNY?

I was immediately impressed by the quality of the fellows and the kinds of projects they were working on. I also just love the mission of connecting students to jobs at local startups. I’ve been involved in building businesses for 20 years and I can’t imagine a better way to spend a career in technology.

What are you going to be doing for hackNY over the next few months?

I’ll be working with Evan and Chris to continue to refine the details of the role, but the focus of this evangelist position is to connect jobseekers with opportunities at local tech companies and serve as a bridge between the City’s colleges and universities and the tech industry. I’ll also be writing some code for hackNY to stay relevant as a developer!

What are some of the coolest hacks you’ve done in the past (technical or non technical)?

My favorite hack is around learning. The best way to learn is to teach, so I often commit to giving presentations at major tech conferences on technologies that I know very little about. It forces to me to learn the ins and outs of everything from git to neo4j to datomic in a way that I’d never do if I just had to use them for a project.

If you had to pick one programming language as your favorite, which would it be?

Despite resisting for years, I now use ruby for most of my day-to-day coding (although python has great math libraries and I love the groovy and grails community on the JVM). Over the next year or so I’m really excited to finally learn clojure and really get my head around the type system in Haskell. I also use javascript (client and server side) where it makes sense and java when I really, really have to.

emacs or vim?

IntelliJ for Java, sublime or textmate for day to day hacking and vim when I need to pair remotely. Emacs is on the list – I just need to find a spare decade to get over the initial learning curve! I think a great developer has some familiarity with a range of tools. On the JVM I’m a gradle fan, but I can work equally well with ant or maven.

Anything else you’d like to share?

I’m really excited to bring my experience working with local CTO’s to build a bridge between students and startup job opportunities. Many smaller startups just don’t have the resources to do college tours and often students don’t know what to do to get a great startup job.

I can speak for everyone when I say that Peter will be a tremendous addition to the hackNY leadership taem and that we are very excited to welcome him to the hackNY community. If you want to follow Peter as he takes hackNY to a new level, follow him on twitter.