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Tagged: Blog | Life at Altus

Employee Spotlight: Stephen Murray

This month, we’re excited to introduce Stephen Murray, Software Developer, as our November employee spotlight!

Stephen grew up in South Harbour, a small town with a population of 100, on Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia. He had his first taste of big city life when he moved to Hamilton and then again when he accepted the job at Altus, and moved to Toronto! 

Stephen’s path to becoming a Software Developer is an interesting one – he obtained a BSc in mathematics at Mount Allison University, as well as a MSc in mathematics and a PhD in mechanical engineering at McMaster. His research area for his Master’s and PhD was computational fluid dynamics. Through his exposure to scientific computing on high performance computing architecture, he became interested in programming. To learn programming further, Stephen decided to study coding independently, rather than take formal classes, while continuing to carry out research on high performance computing.

During his time at McMaster, he participated in many hackathons, where teams come up with software solutions for real-world problems in 48-72 hours. He recalls his first hackathon at Princeton University – as a newcomer to these sorts of competitions, he was shocked when his teammates came armed with a full case of Monster energy drinks. However, he quickly found out how useful they were after spending the next two days straight coding with precious few hours of sleep.

After completing his PhD, Stephen discovered a Software Developer role was open at Altus. What initially attracted him to Altus was that fact that the CASPer test stems from research conducted at his alma mater McMaster. So, he applied, and joined the team in June 2018.

“Stephen is a top 5 human-being and is so good at what he does. I probably bother him with questions more than anyone else in the office, and he always gives me the time of day. Plus, the dude needs to stop being so talented away from the office – he’s just unstoppable.” – Eric, Customer Success Manager

As Altus’ resident ace Software Developer, Stephen works on both front and back end aspects of the platform, from user interface to designing the fundamental architecture of the system. When asked what he enjoys about working here, he noted that “we are encouraged to explore interesting technologies, even if they aren’t currently in our tech stack. It’s this freedom to experiment that makes work stimulating. In some cases these novel ideas have found their way into our product”. He also likes working in a startup environment, as he can work on projects in many areas to develop a well-rounded skill set.

“Stephen is a real renaissance man and it shows through his presence at Altus. His two main states are mostly heads down in code or eyes up to the clouds pondering what I assume to be the world’s problems and how he can solve them. Yet he can also be found presenting about his latest interest at an all hands, having coffee with a peer at OneEleven, or organizing a social outing that exposes his colleagues to the arts in some wonderful way. You enhance our daily life at Altus in so many ways Stephen, and we appreciate it greatly.” – Alecia, Director of Product

Outside of work, Stephen has a multitude of diverse interests. Coming from a town that has a high annual snowfall, he cross-country skied competitively as a teenager. He was also a cheerleader during his time at McMaster! Nowadays, he’s exploring more of the arts – he previously joined the McMaster Orchestra as a cellist, and currently plays viola and violin with the University of Toronto Orchestra. You can watch one of his recent performances below, where he is the farthest violinist at a quarter from the left.

Stephen is also a talented photographer, specializing in landscape photography. It was difficult to choose only a few photos to include in this article, as they were all gorgeous! Most of them were taken in his hometown, and show the beautiful scenery he was able to enjoy every day while growing up.

Thanks Stephen for making Altus an AWESOME place to work at!