Cavalier Feature: Alumni Interview

Karl Rosenberger, Engineer, interviewed by Marissa Carpenter, Director of Marketing and Enrollment

Marissa:  What is your occupation?

Karl:  I’m a Systems/Software Engineer at Boeing.

Which grade levels did you attend and what year did you graduate from Central Valley Christian?

K-4th and 8th-12th, and I graduated in 2006.

What’s your first memory of CVC? What’s your favorite memory of CVC?

My first memory at CVC was probably when we put on a mini play in Mrs. Bouma’s Kindergarten class of the book Caps for Sale and we got to throw hats down on the man selling caps, played by Michael Kornelis.

Since I went to CVC in two different chunks (K-4 and 8-12th) I’ll share two memories.  My favorite memory when I was younger was probably going to the October Fair [Fall Festival] and winning cool prizes as a kid, like those sticky hands you could throw at the wall, and eating lots of really good food.

A more recent favorite memory was playing on the soccer team.  It was cool to see from my freshman year where we could barely field a team (I think we had 13 total who wanted to play) to my senior year and having a packed JV and Varsity team.  It was also awesome to go far in the playoffs my senior year and hearing that the next year they won the whole thing.  It was exciting, and I was proud to have been a part of such a talented team.  It was also cool that they were doing the alumni game every year and to be a part of that for a while.

Post-graduation, where did you go? What did you study? Why?

After high school I went to University of California, Irvine (UCI) and studied Electrical Engineering (EE).  The reason I went to UCI really was because one of my friends from school was going there (Dave Daniels) and he thought it was a good school, so I thought, “Why not?”  Plus, being a UC it must have been a decent school. I didn’t research too much and relied on what Dave said, and also on Mrs. Thornton’s (CVC’s former guidance counselor) advice too.  Truly, I thank God it turned out to be the right choice, despite not thinking about it as much as I should have.

As for my major, I really didn’t know what to do and was thinking just doing undecided/undeclared.  I had an idea I would do something with math since I kind of liked it.  I knew not to consider anything to do with English, and anyone who was in writing class with me could vouch: my English and writing wasn’t going to take me anywhere, so I steered clear of that.  My cousin who was a few years older actually convinced me to try EE* since he was in it and said it was pretty interesting.  After getting a taste of the classes (Signal Processing and Electronics in particular), I knew it’d be a solid choice and just stuck with it.  I would like to say a special thanks to Mr. Byrd in particular for his Calculus classes and teaching since that made up a lot of my classes.  I was definitely prepared for everything they threw at me and it was awesome.

I also ended up studying EE a bit more (optics and photonics) for my masters out at John’s Hopkins Applied Physics Lab satellite location because it was the closest school while I was working out in Maryland.

Take our readers through a normal day of work for you. What’s the most difficult thing about your job? The easiest thing?

This may be a bit boring sounding, but part of it is I can’t say too much about the project I work on.  Typically I start at 8am and leave around 4:30-5pm.  I first come in and check my email to make sure there isn’t anything urgent that I need to do, all the while trying to wake up, drinking some black tea if necessary (not a coffee guy).  After that, it’s pretty much coding, testing, and debugging throughout the day.  Since I still have a lot to learn about software, this does require a lot of research, like talking to my more experienced coworkers (I’m the youngest on the team by at least 10 years right now), looking at books for reference, and seeing what I can find online.

The hardest thing about working is probably all the processes, politics, and bureaucracy that I need to go through in order to get simple tasks done, like ordering equipment or moving things around like desks.  Even getting new people hired for our team is a difficult task.  There’s a lot more, but I’m sure most people know what I’m talking about.  More specifically, we have way more work to do than we have people to do it, because hiring people is a difficult process.

The easiest thing for me is interacting with my teammates and working as a team.  I am pretty good at communicating what I need and asking questions, and I’m also pretty extroverted so interacting with people is something I like to do.  Even though I’m a junior on this team, they seem to appreciate my desire to learn more from them.

“[At CVC] the teachers really do care for the students, and it’s cool to see them so invested in their students’ well-being.” -Karl Rosenberger, Class of 2006

Tell me about a project or accomplishment that you consider to be the most significant in your career thus far.

One of the coolest projects that I was a part of was working on the Ground Station components and communications to help with interfacing with the satellite and managing the faults of the system.  This was during my time as a system engineer.  The ground station itself has many different components (antennas, Radio Frequency equipment, monitoring devices, etc.), but a few of the specific parts I worked on were the backup management, networking monitoring and management, and alarm/event processing.  Backup management was used to maintain a history of alarms and events that occurred with both the satellite and ground components so that if need be, the operator is able to go back and analyze the data.  Network monitoring and management was needed to monitor the key primary components in the ground station to make sure they are operating properly and available, and if not the secondary components will take over until the primary ones are functioning again.  Finally, alarm/event processing and management is just that, processing the incoming component alarms and events using algorithms to determine how to alert the operator and/or respond.

Okay, so let me see if I’ve got this right:
You helped the ground station and the satellite communicate, which included making sure that if anything went wrong, the operator could log in, analyze the data, and diagnose the issue. Yes? In addition to that, you made sure that there was a backup system (secondary system) in place in case the primary system failed, and you helped create the alert/alarm for the operator, with instructions on how to fix the error. Right?

For a more specific task that I can consider the coolest (during my time as a software engineer) I worked on building a Graphical User Interface (GUI)* from the ground up using C++* (with Python* on the side). [More on that in our vocab and acronym section.] This GUI is used to interface with and test multiple embedded systems in our lab. This project has a little bit of everything, which works well with my personality of wanting to learn everything.  Overall, this is probably my most significant and favorite project because I get to put my name on it as the creator and I have learned a ton in a variety of different fields while doing it.

That sounds awesome. And…seriously complicated. What are the next steps for you—where would you like to go from here?

In terms of career steps, I’m not exactly sure and haven’t planned much about what I want to do.  I still feel like I’m figuring it out as I go along, which has pushed me to lean on God a lot and not worry as much about the details.  Part of it is that I want to stay flexible for what God may call me to do next, I think, and to be as attentive as possible to it.  Outside of that, I think my indicator that I’m on the right path is that I can continue to learn where I am at, and can make an impact on the project/team I’m working on.  And for maybe a more direct answer, in the near future I want to improve my software skills–and my job now provides a great place for that, but as for after that I’m not sure.  Maybe a couple of my college buddies will do a start-up–that’s the cool thing to do these days, right?

It most definitely is. Rosenberger Enterprises has a nice ring to it. What do you do when you’re not working? What are your hobbies?

I do a lot of socializing.  I have a pretty bad case of FOMO* I think, and I’m an extrovert; being in LA with a lot going on….I do get burned out trying to do everything.  Overall, I have a set weekly schedule for exercise where I play in a South Bay soccer league, volleyball with coworkers, and go to the gym on off days.  These things really help me unwind, and as I get older I realize I need to stay active or I will quickly get out of shape, especially sitting at a desk for work.  Besides that, I’m pretty involved with my church: I lead a setup team at Reality LA and co-lead a community group in Culver City.  It’s really awesome to see people in this group so committed to community even though LA is so transient.  Our group is kind of big, but still relationally close, too, so throughout the week we tend to do a lot of things together outside of our usual small group (food, bar, weekend trips, beach, etc.).  I also love to go hiking (surprisingly there’s a lot around here and after the much needed rain, some of them are gorgeous!), biking The Strand on the beach, and going to concerts since LA is a hub for music and I’m taking advantage of it while I’m here.

Alumni Interview with Karl Rosenberger

Karl Rosenberger (’06) in front of his place of work.

What might someone be surprised to know about you? (Weird food that you like, funny habits, etc.) 

I do my taxes by hand still.  Every time I tell people that, I get the funniest look like, “Dude, there’s this thing called ‘technology’, you should try it sometime”.  One day I’ll make the transition over….

Maybe you’re just making up for all the technological work you do the rest of the time—I can see that. Switching gears, how do you think Christian education helps take on today’s challenges through academia and the holistic process of involving Christ in everything we do?

I think that the biggest thing about Christian education is that it helps give a Christian perspective to every subject and encourages student to keep God at the center of everything.  So regardless of things going on, it’s good to learn we can find rest in God and the sacrifice of Christ.  It also gives a firm foundation in faith and hopefully creates an environment to ask questions.  This was especially true when Apologetics were offered at CVC, as it showed that logic/reasoning and having open discussions with others outside faith is not only okay, but encouraged.  Too often people see faith as blind, but Apologetics showed that logic is behind it.

How would you change Christian education? Would you change anything about your specific CVC experience? If so, what?

(Note: This is assuming none of these have been done since I left.)

This is a good question actually, and probably applies to most Christian schools.  While I love having Christ in every part of our learning, I think it can also be a hindrance if people don’t know what else is out there.  In order to live in the world, I think exploring other cultures and religions for the sake of being aware of what else is out there is also important.  There are so many misconceptions of other beliefs and cultures due to ignorance, and I believe this would help when we as Christians go into other parts of the world and communicate and try to develop relationships with others from completely different backgrounds.  It’s good to have that Christian community, but it’s important for us to move outside that bubble too.

I think one other thing that might be good is to have some space to guide students how to share faith.  Even in college and beyond I saw that sharing faith can be awkward and sometimes daunting, as people don’t feel equipped enough; prepping students in some way would be a positive experience.

What kinds of opportunities did you take hold of while at CVC? Sports? Extracurriculars? Clubs? Honors classes?

I was a part of the soccer team for all four years, and did cross country for one year.  I was also a part of student council in some capacity, though I can’t exactly remember what I did (maybe it was for the free food I guess).  And for classes, I took Honors Bio/Chem, Physics, AP Calc, and Honors English.

What would you tell someone who is thinking of attending Central Valley Christian?

As I said before, having God and faith integrated into classes, clubs, and sports is a good thing.  It’s a great opportunity, especially now where people are being discouraged to have their faith public.  Also, the smaller class sizes were nice and you felt less like a number, which made it possible to have a good relationship with teachers.  Finally, the teachers really do care for the students, and it’s cool to see them so invested in their students’ well-being, even when students don’t appreciate it at the time.

Lost in all those Engineering terms? Here’s a quick guide:
EE – electrical engineering
Programming – creating a set of instructions that tell a computer how to perform a task, which then results in an executable program
Debugging – a process of testing code (the set of instructions) finding issues and problems with it that cause it to operate incorrectly, and resolving the issues to allow for proper operation
GUI – Graphical User Interface; a visual way of interacting with a computer using items such as windows, icons, and menus, used by most modern operating systems
C++ –  a general-purpose programming language designed to be used for writing software in a wide variety of application domains (a general-purpose language)
python – a high-level general-purpose programming language
FOMO – Fear of missing out (just in case you hadn’t figured it out yet)

This feature was originally published in the Summer 2017 issue of The Cavalier magazine, a quarterly publication sent to our past families, current families, donors and alumni. Click here to update your alumni information!

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