I have been computer programming since 1997, when my 4th grade classmate Colin O'Dell and I started reading books regarding AppleBasic for an old Apple IIe in our classroom. We quickly learned how to make simple, text-based games during our lunchtime recess. From there I moved on to C++, Z80 assembler, x86 assembler, Python, Lisp, and many more, before entering Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute for my Bachelor's degree.

Upon entering Rensselaer, I sought out research opportunities in order to expand my understanding of the world. I joined the CogWorks Laboratory as a freshman and began working with Dr. Wayne Gray and Dr. Michael Schoelles. My first year was dedicated to a project entitled the Visualization-Interaction Architecture (VIA). The goal of VIA was two-fold: firstly, we were interested in how humans interacted with computer software and needed a method of recording those interactions in order to accurately gauge task performance in real-world environments; secondly, we wanted to build ACT-R models that could interact with these systems in a manner similar to human users.

Once VIA was considered to be rich enough to capture the data we were interested in, Dr. Hans Neth devised a complex web-browsing task in order to test the capabilities of the software. I adapted the open source browser, Firefox, to contact VIA when draw operations occurred so that we could capture the position of words on the screen and images being rendered to the user. Within the browser, the subject would be presented with a question and an answer box. A second tab was generated that would point to the All Portals page of Wikipedia. The subject was instructed to follow links from this page in order to locate a page that had the answer on it. It was possible that there was more than one page that could yield the correct answer, and it was up to the subject to determine which links would yield the best results. The search features of the interface were disabled programmatically so that users were forced to visually search the page for an appropriate link (or backtrack to a previous page if they were unsuccessful).