Meet Brandon Allgood, CTO at Numerate, Inc.

Forbes Technology Council members are in a wide range of industries and come from a diverse set of experiences. However, they all have lots of great insights to share, from best practices for technology departments to smart predictions for the future of tech. To showcase their expertise, we’re profiling Forbes Technology Council members here on the blog. This week: Brandon Allgood.

Brandon Allgood specializes in scientific and numerical software development and management with an emphasis on large scale, high-performance computing. As CTO at Numerate, Brandon leads Numerate’s software engineering team and is responsible for the development of the company’s drug design technology platform and technical vision. Brandon earned a PhD in Computational Astrophysics from UC Santa Cruz and a B.S. in Physics from the University of Washington.

What is your background, and how has it influenced what you do today?

I am a recovering cosmologist. Math, science and computers (generally in that order) have been my lifelong focus. As a young man, I could think of no greater challenge than to get a PhD in cosmology. So naturally, that’s exactly what I did. As a graduate student, I built, managed and programmed large HPC systems with the goal of creating better simulations of the universe and its formation. It was an exciting time in my life and a project that I am still very proud of.

However, toward the end of graduate school, I became disillusioned with academia and looked elsewhere. I still wanted to be involved in large-scale scientific computing, but wasn’t sure that existed outside of academia. After some searching I found that it did, but in the realms of biology and chemistry and the most interesting work was happening in startups, not large companies or labs.

Coming from a family of entrepreneurs and having yet to shake the scrappiness of a graduate student, I naturally took to the startup atmosphere. The energy and intensity of it all reminded me of my graduate work. I was hooked. I have now worked at two startups, one of which I co-founded. Transitioning from academia to startup culture has certainly tested my abilities and resolve, but my desire to push the bounds of math, science and computers to improve society still remains my driving force.

What do you think is the most interesting piece of new technology today? (And / or how do you see the technology landscape changing in the next 5 – 10 years?)

Although cloud computing may no longer be considered a “new” technology in many circles today, it is still transforming and growing. I believe we have only witnessed this technology in its infancy. Usability is improving, the number of features is steadily increasing, and the adoption occurring outside of places like Silicon Valley still represents a huge source of untapped growth.

Cloud computing is also providing the computational heavy lifting required for the advancements of other exciting technologies like modern machine learning or IoT, both of which have only recently begun to show their potential to benefit society at large. Health of humans and the planet will come to depend on these advancements. In light of these developments, I don’t expect cloud computing to fall from prominence anytime soon. Competitors in the space today would be wise to continue their investment in cloud platforms and look to complementary technologies like machine learning or IoT for future exploration.

As someone still in love with space, I must confess that unrelated to the above topics I believe that the private space industry is also extremely exciting. This will open a number of amazing new opportunities. And the technologies that are being developed to achieve this will also be beneficial to society, just as the original space program was. Where would we be without the video game Joystick?

What’s your best piece of advice for technology executives to keep on top of the rapidly evolving tech space?

In my experience, volunteering is the best way to keep on top of new technologies. Join and get involved in engineering or technical societies at the local IEEE chapter or your local university. I have found that volunteering to judge hackathons at local universities and getting involved with faculty has exposed me to emerging technologies I would otherwise have never known. Being involved in technical societies keeps me up to date with industry trends and analysis. Not to mention, I have a great time doing it.