Who am I? ... I'm J Dana Eckart, and welcome to my little corner of the world wide web.
These pages and links tell you a about my interests and through them a bit about me. I'm married (nearly 20 years) to a wonderful women and together we have four fantastic children. Most of my professional career has been spent in academia working in southwestern Virginia and living in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains. Recently we've made the move to west central Georgia where I work for Aflac (yes, I work for "The Duck"). It's warmer, flater, and a great deal more humid in Columbus, Georgia than in the mountains of Virginia, but the people here are wonderful and we couldn't be happier about the move.
After getting my PhD in computer science from Georgia Tech I started my professional career in 1987 at George Mason University as an Assistant Professor. After two years, I followed my then future wife to southwestern Virginia and began what became a sucessful stint of more than a decade at Radford University. By the end of twelve years I was a tenured, full professor at RU, and the department chair of computer science. I taught a variety of courses ranging from beginning computer programming to compiler construction. I was also a graduate faculty member in the (now defunct) Computational Science program. My primary research area was cellular automata, which brought together my interests in massively parallel processing, complex systems, artificial life, distributed control, and the design and implementation of small, simple, application-specific languages. It was during my time at RU that I developed the Cellular software system for investigating cellular automata. It is available under the terms of the GNU Public License and has been used by a number of researchers around the world.
After about 13 years of teaching, I wanted a change of pace. So I started a small consulting/contracting business with two friends. The business did okay, but about one year after we began, the 9/11 attacks occurred and the downward slump in the economy was the end of the business. We managed to survive for a short time but I soon left the company to work at the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute. Working at VBI was a tremendous experience. I built up a group of about 20 software developers and led the group in creating software for a number of government funded projects. While the work was enjoyable, I found myself wanting more security than soft funded one year contracts. That's when I made the move to Aflac in August of 2005, and I couldn't be happier about the move.
Apart from work I enjoy spending time with my family. I also like to juggle (learn how), ride my unicycle, fly helicopters (PP-RH), and read science fiction. When I was a graduate student I also practiced aikido for 3 years. Although I hadn't done aikido for a long time, I finally picked it back up in March of 2001. I also hold a General Class Amateur Radio License (KA4EVL) and hope one day to start operating again with a CW/QRP rig. Check out my CD collection if you are curious about my musical tastes or learn more about my personal philosophy.
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