Show and Tell: Michael Duarte

A Q&A with an IXL Software Engineer

September 23, 2016


Life at IXL

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.

The Basics

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.

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All Comments (17)

Victoria Keliihoomalu October 7, 2016 at 4:44 pm

You do have a cute cat, for sure! Your mom sounds like an amazing lady, I bet she is proud…


micea l December 8, 2016 at 11:45 am

love the whole story. whats your church called?


Michael Duarte January 10, 2017 at 6:17 pm

Thanks 🙂

My church is Seventh Avenue Presbyterian in SF


Antonio December 12, 2016 at 11:55 am

You are amazing!How old are you?


Michael Duarte January 10, 2017 at 6:17 pm

haha thanks! I’m 27


shevy December 13, 2016 at 11:41 am

hey i love your cat and you are cool so if you get this can u reply


Michael Duarte January 10, 2017 at 6:20 pm

Sure! My cat is super loveable ^^


Elena February 7, 2017 at 5:46 pm

So far, I find IXL to be a great educational tool for children and I am very happy to know that a Spanish Curriculum will be implemented. The only thing I wish is that the child’s certificate awards had a more precise area of content typed, instead of just saying mastered 1 skill in Language Arts/Math/etc.


The IXL Team February 8, 2017 at 4:55 pm

Hi Elena–We’re glad you’ve been enjoying IXL and that you’re looking forward to our Spanish content. Thanks for taking the time to share your suggestion–we’ll pass it along to our development team! In the meantime, while we don’t have specific certificates like what you describe, IXL Analytics can be used in a similar way to see specific skills/concepts a student has mastered.


anthonyhunter March 25, 2017 at 10:41 am

well this thing help me a lot in learn every thing in need
than you ixl 🙂


NELSON PINA April 20, 2017 at 10:11 am

Im in 8th grade and this is helping me so far it awesome THANKS IXL!!!


Frederick September 13, 2017 at 2:55 pm

Which programming languages you mostly use in your Software Engineer Job with ixl? Did you learn the required programming language for this job in your undergraduate studies or you just picked up the language recently? Drop me a few lines! Thanks!
Toronto, Ontario, Canada.


Michael Duarte September 14, 2017 at 10:17 am

Most teams at IXL use Java for our backend, and React.js for our frontend. I am mostly a backend engineer so it’s Java for me 🙂

I studied CS pretty extensively at Stanford, but definitely spent several months refreshing before applying for IXL. It’s definitely worth spending some time investigating the newest technologies and trends as well as brushing up on all those tough SWE interview questions.

Best of luck on your journey!


joe June 13, 2018 at 10:50 am

how do you join


The IXL Team June 13, 2018 at 2:01 pm

Hi there — learn about our membership options here: And if you’re interested in joining the IXL team, take a look at our current openings here:


Alexandra July 5, 2018 at 12:41 pm

Hi, Cam really interested in purchasing IXL for my 2 children aged 9 and 6 both boys and the oldest son is dyslexic. I was just wondering is it compatible with the British National curriculum.


The IXL Team July 5, 2018 at 4:18 pm

Hi Alexandra, we’re happy to hear you’re interested in IXL for your sons! All of our skills are fully aligned to your national curriculum–you can learn more about this here: Additionally, IXL is a powerful tool for providing targeted intervention and frequent progress monitoring for students identified as being dyslexic. We have a structured, systematic approach to phonics instruction that is helpful as well. We’d love to chat with you about your sons’ needs and how you can use IXL with them–feel free to reach out to!


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