Bill Pfeil has accumulated a lot work experience in industry over 25 years. Some of his experience includes mathematical modeling for groundwater flow and petroleum distribution, developing user interfaces, writing device drivers, creating networking software, making mobile apps, and controlling robotic cameras and microscopes.
It is this experience that makes Bill an ideal instructor of computer science for the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science’s online programs.
He worked at large tech companies, small businesses, worked as a contractor, and started his own business.
His work has taken him to Tucson, Arizona; Silicon Valley, the tiny coastal town of Reedsport, Oregon; and Corvallis.
Bill spent the latter part of his career in Corvallis, where he created drivers, systems, and solutions for Trimble’s equipment, which included GIS devices for the forest industry and a handheld ticketing solution for law enforcement. (By the way, if you ever get a traffic citation in the Portland area, chances are part of it is Bill’s doing, because law enforcement there continues to use the software from years ago.)
Along the way, he did a lot of youth coaching and volunteer work at K-12 schools, and thought he might want to become a teacher someday. “I really love working with kids. They’re a blast, and I’m a big kid myself in some ways,” he said.
Eventually, Bill took the opportunity to make the leap to a teaching career and earned a master’s degree in math education from Oregon State, with the goal of teaching high school computer science.
Though he already had a job lined up, Bill attended a career fair in Portland that was aimed at teachers. “I walked into the big convention room and one of the first booths I saw was Oregon State’s online postbacc computer science program,” he said.
When he’s not teaching or working with industry contacts to secure capstone projects, Bill likes getting outdoors.
Bill’s extensive industry experience and interests were exactly what the program needed, especially for the senior capstone course.
In that course, students work in small teams to complete a real-world software project, often defined and sponsored by industry partners.
“This is often their first experience developing something big enough that they have to understand how software is built and to figure out how to construct a large system,” Bill said. “Students get bits and pieces of that in various classes, but making a real project for a real client takes it up to another level.”
Students also get experience in planning, teamwork, and project management.
“When students interview for jobs, they can talk about their project, their role, and how they grew in confidence because of that experience,” Bill added. “They can show prospective employers that they’re now prepared for the job.”
When he’s not teaching or working with industry contacts to secure capstone projects, Bill likes getting outdoors especially when it comes to soccer, a sport he’s been playing since junior high.
He has also been working on a couple of novels for the past few years, but the time he spent working on his master’s degree has taken time away from his writing. “I was working on one novel for almost two years and then put it away,” he said. “I might come back to it, but I’ve only gotten a few short stories written lately.”
July 29, 2021
By Gale Sumida