Meet Michael Duarte, software engineer! We talked with Michael about his exciting work with the Spanish content team, which James Brown song would be on his life’s soundtrack, and more.
Name and title: Michael Duarte, Software Engineer
Has been at IXL for: 1 year
Hometown and current city: From San Francisco, Calif. Currently lives in Redwood City, Calif.
Life at IXL
What did you do prior to coming to IXL?
I finished a Masters in Electrical Engineering at Stanford but almost all of my classes were in Computer Science. Then I was hired at a semiconductor company, where I worked on debugging firmware for Wi-Fi chips and creating automated systems for testing the hardware. I had a very broad role doing a little bit of hardware, a little bit of software, but after about two years I realized that I enjoyed the software side substantially more.
What drew you to IXL?
I wanted to focus on software and I also really wanted to work on something that was rewarding, something that helped people or contributed something new to society. I found IXL and thought it was a really great fit.
What do you do at IXL? Give us a taste of what a typical day at work is like for you.
I’m on the Content team and currently in the project leadership role for Spanish—and it’s really exciting because it’s a whole new subject and it’s our first language release. So a lot of my job right now is assigning work to a team of engineers, as well as coordinating with curriculum designers to figure out the nuts and bolts of the content. I also work with our infrastructure team in order to make sure that all the infrastructure for Spanish is ready for release. Then I have my own coding work to finish as well.
What skills/qualities does it take to do your job?
It’s really important to have good communication skills, because you’re working with curriculum designers, product managers, as well as other engineers. A lot of the job is communicating with those people and implementing designs—and as ideas change, you have to go back and forth and adjust and collaborate.
Life beyond IXL
What do you like to do in your free time?
A lot of my free time is actually spent hanging out with other people at IXL, because I really like the people here. We play D&D (Dungeons and Dragons) every week, plus the card game Magic: The Gathering. I enjoy taking low-key hikes with my girlfriend on the weekends and I help run a bible study at my church. I also like playing with my cat, Sirius—I have a really adorable cat. [See photo right.]
Tell us about someone you admire
I have a lot of admiration for my mom and all that she sacrificed for me. My parents split up when I was one and she took on four jobs so that I could go to private schools, get scholarships, and always have more than I needed. I had a lot of learning disabilities as a kid and she made sure to get me really good tutoring. And she was diabetic with some health problems—so she didn’t always feel good, but she still worked really hard and kept at it so I could succeed.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
The first thing I remember wanting to be is a train conductor. I loved trains—I collected all the different storybooks about trains. Then when I was in high school, I thought about going into psychology and being a marriage and family therapist like my mom because I like connecting with people and thought that would be really rewarding.
Just for Fun
What was your favorite childhood toy?
I loved LEGOs as a kid. I had this whole scheme of organizing them in one of those sets of drawers people keep screws and nails in. So I would take certain blocks out and build ships and things—it was my favorite toy because it was fun and creative and new every time.
Name one song that would be on the soundtrack to your life.
“Get on the Good Foot” by James Brown. To me, the song says that you can always get on the good foot and feel more positive, no matter what’s happening. And that feels appropriate to the way I like to live my life.
What would your last meal be?
Definitely a burrito. Probably al pastor, with guacamole everywhere—the works.
How would you survive a zombie apocalypse?
I would try to get out of the city, maybe go somewhere like Oregon where there would be a lot of open land and hopefully fewer zombies.
Want to join Michael’s team? We have engineering openings! Apply here.