Who would have known that the simple act of an older brother handing Brett McCormick a Sega game controller as a pre-schooler would start his IT career path? “I would just sit and play games with him and be infatuated. I would wonder ‘how does this work? This doesn’t seem like any other toy I’ve ever played with,’” Brett said. “How is this happening? You just put this plastic thing in the other plastic thing and pictures show up!’ So that kind of seated it, I guess.”
In middle school, Brett took his first computer class in Industrial Technology learning software that the industry uses to design houses and floor plans. Then in high school, he started taking web developer classes, learning HTML and Java. He even won his first award for “Outstanding Achievement in Web Mastering.”
“It was always my goal to study computers, work in computers, just always have something to do with computers in my life. Didn’t really care at that point exactly what I was doing, I just knew I wanted to do something in computers.”
Near the end of his time in high school, Brett took his first computer science class, Cisco Networking, taking both CCNA 1 and 2, plus the certification test and by the time he graduated high school, Brett already had his first certificate.
“My high school only offered CCNA 1 and 2, but there are four CCNA courses, so I continued taking them at Collin College. The teacher I had at Collin, his name was Pete Brierly, invited me to the Convergence Program and I said ‘That sounds good,’” Brett said. “When Pete took me under his wing, that’s what started my whole journey with the CTC [Convergence Technology Center] group.”
For two years, Brett was involved in various capstones and projects, speaking at Working Connections, learning about Voice Over IP, taking CCNP, and even attending a conference in Washington D.C. He was all set to build his career in networking and transfer to a four-year school.
“That was always the plan. I had never not considered going to a four-year school,” Brett said. “That’s when I learned every school that I approached told me I would have to re-start my degree if I wanted to major there, with the exception of the University of North Texas with their IT degree. They allowed me to transfer 18 hours of my CTC degree into that program so I have a focus in networking.”
(Read more about UNT’s BAIT – Bachelor of Arts in Information Technology – program here.)
Brett then worked at the network security lab at UNT for about a year and a half and was an engineering ambassador so he would give tours of the UNT campus, representing the school and telling other prospective students what UNT had to offer.
“I also worked a lot with David Keathly over the summers. We would run Robo Camp. I would teach kids how to write programs for robots and how to write video games for the Xbox. Kids really liked learning all that. If I was a kid, I would have loved to done stuff like that.”
Eventually, Brett was part of a two-semester capstone class that he used to get together a group of friends to write a pair of apps that would track public transportation vehicles, specifically Denton County Transit Authority.
“We would put Android phones on their buses. We would kind of just set them on the dashboard and they would just send us messages all day. They would track where the device was at all times and it would phone home and tell us where it was. We would took that data and map it out,” Brett said. “We got a lot of attention over it.”
Brett, along with his friend, Kyle Taylor (read his story here), wrote a white paper, got it published and were invited to speak about it at an American Public Transportation Association conference.
“It was a really big deal for us at the time to publish a white paper as undergraduates. I think that singlehandedly was the reason why I got an internship at Bottle Rocket.” Through that internship Brett got the opportunity to write home screen widgets, in-house apps, client-facing apps, etc. “I had a really great experience.”
After his summer internship, Brett went back to school to finish his last semester at UNT. Then, on the very same day he was graduating, Brett got a call from a recruiter who hired him full time with the company. “It was a great day! And I’ve been there ever since.” Brett has now been with Bottle Rocket for almost five years and is working as a Lead Android Developer; with future goals of just being the best he can be at Android and Java in general.
“I feel like I had a pretty unique experience, especially being so close to the faculty. They really did everything I needed to be successful and to set me up for a great career.” So for this “rocketeer” (what Bottle Rocket calls their employees), the sky really is the limit.
“I was always the guy in my family that people would come to for advice, or how to fix things, or how to set something up. Eventually it gets annoying after awhile. But looking back, and even today, I’m glad to have been able to help people.”