Alumni Spotlight: Josh Cox, Cohort 2010Josh Cox

1. Tell us about yourself and your background.

I was born in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan Canada and moved to Omaha when I was 10. I went to Mount Michael high school where I was on the Robotics team and was the Editor-in-Chief of our newspaper. In high school, I got my first taste of computer programming through a Visual Basic course where we learned to make a Rock-Paper-Scissors game. I also did quite a bit of “programming” for robotics, using a drag-and-drop language called EasyC.

After high school, I went to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln as a student at the Raikes School. I learned a lot in my first few years and was lucky enough to get internships at Penlink, Sandhills, and Microsoft. After those internship experiences, I caught the “startup bug” and was eager to try to build something of my own. I joined up with my classmates James Verhoeff and Zach Christensen to create Pickit, a startup targeted at local businesses. We received endless support and mentorship through the Raikes school and eventually our software was used by about 70 Lincoln businesses. We continued working on it through our senior year, and we were even fortunate enough to make it our Design Studio project. However, by the time graduation came around it became clear that we wouldn’t all be able to keep working on Pickit full time.

It was around that time that Jordan Degner, one of my classmates, convinced me to apply to work at Hudl. I worked there for a little over two years, focusing on developer tools, data engineering, and site operations. After working with some incredibly intelligent and talented people for a couple years, I decided I was ready for a new challenge. So, I applied to work at Uber’s Advanced Technology Center in Pittsburgh, the headquarters for Uber’s self-driving car program. They offered me a position on their developer tools team and I’ve been working there for about 6 months now! 

2. What are some highlights from your experience as a student in the Raikes School?

 The biggest takeaway for me was easily all the friends that I made while at the Raikes School. The people I met at Raikes have shaped my life in very real, positive ways and I’m a different person than I would have been otherwise.

Another big takeaway for me was the breadth of opportunity and experience afforded to me by internships, Design Studio, and side-projects with friends. The Raikes school did a really good job of encouraging and helping me and my classmates explore and grow as much as possible in four years.

 3. What are some of your interests outside of work?

Other than work I spend a lot of my time during the summer at music and art festivals. Moogfest is a yearly festival in North Carolina that I’ll be going to later this year. I also do a lot of improv and watch and listen to a lot of comedy shows and podcasts.

 4. You are currently an engineer at Uber, tell us about your role and why you made the move to Pittsburgh.

Moving to Pittsburgh just made a lot of sense in my mind. I have a lot of friends here and had spent a lot of time visiting fellow Raikes grad Aubrey Thompson, who was working on her degree at Carnegie Mellon (we’ve been dating since our sophomore year at Raikes). Pittsburgh is also a really exciting city to live in. There is tons of great music, art, and food. When I got the offer from ATG, I didn’t have to think about it very hard.

As far as my role at Uber ATG goes, I’m a member of the developer tools team. In a nutshell, my job is to make every other developer here more efficient. That means something very different than it meant at Hudl. The developer tools team at Hudl was largely focused on deploying web services that powered the Hudl website. At ATG, we deploy code onto vehicles, which comes with a completely different set of challenges. There’s a lot more emphasis placed on verification and validation of code, since any bugs can potentially have serious real-world consequences.

 5. Have you had any experiences with Raikes School alumni or current students since graduation? 

I’ve had a ton of experiences with former Raikes students since graduating. When I was at Hudl, I interacted with Raikes grads every single day at work (as well as after work most days). If there’s one thing I miss about Hudl since moving to Uber, it’s the opportunity to work with other Raikes alumni.

Outside of work I still keep in touch with a lot of my former classmates. I’ve made several trips to Seattle, San Francisco, and Nebraska, each time getting in touch with at least a half-dozen or so Raikes people. Several of my friends have also come out to Pittsburgh and visited! A few of us have also gone to Hawaii a couple of times to catch up and relax for a bit. So, while we’ve definitely grown apart and gone our separate ways, I’d say we still have pretty strong friendships. 

6. If you could give one piece of advice to a member of the 2013 cohort as they get ready to graduate in May, what would you say?

Make sure you regularly step outside your comfort zone and try things that scare you or make you feel uncomfortable. After college, I’ve found it’s pretty easy to stagnate and stop growing so I need to push myself to keep learning and trying new things.

7. Is there anything else you’d like to share? 

Apparently, I have a thing for four-letter tech companies.