Ian Carrico on Drupal, cheesecake and saving lives

One of the 10 nominees for Young Developer of the Year (opens in new tab) in the 2014 net Awards (opens in new tab), Ian Carrico (opens in new tab) is a Drupal developer and themer currently working at Four Kitchens (opens in new tab). Ian has also spoken at Sass Conf and taught Advanced Responsive Design at DrupalCon Prague. Here we chat to the young Texan to find out more...

What are your main areas of expertise?

I describe myself as a "backend of frontend" developer, meaning I work on a lot of the backend tools to make frontend code better. This includes Sass, Compass, Grunt.js, writing Compass extensions, and a lot of frontend ops work.

I also do overall digital strategy for clients and provide ongoing strategic planning for large media clients.

Give us a summary of your career so far.

My first (public) website was for Chappelow Elementary in my hometown. I was only 11 at the time. Since then, I graduated from The University of Texas at Austin with a degree in Asian Studies. Professionally, I have worked for the Beijing City Government, Intel, and Y&R. I am currently an engineer at Four Kitchens.

What have you been working on over the last year?

Projects at Four Kitchens have included work on NBC.com

Projects at Four Kitchens have included work on NBC.com

My passion is to contribute back to open source projects, and I have made lots of contributions to Sass, Compass and Drupal. I have put a good amount of code into Breakpoint and a few other tools by Team Sass. I also co-maintain the Aurora base theme for Drupal, as well as the Compass extension that creates sub-themes for it.

While at Four Kitchens, I have worked on NBC.com, Economist.com, the Yale School of Management, and ICANN.org.

What have been the particular high points of your career?

The past year has been a whirlwind. My favourite parts have been presenting and training at conferences across North America and Europe. At the DrupalCons in Portland and Prague, I teamed up with Sam Richards (opens in new tab) and Chris Ruppel to lead responsive web design training with Sass and Compass. Doing so has given me the time to contribute back to open source, meet some interesting people, and learn more than I possibly could imagine.

What are you excited about right now?

The challenge at World Pulse has been making its website work across low bandwidth

The challenge at World Pulse has been making its website work across low bandwidth

For a little over a year, I have been working with a nonprofit organization called World Pulse. This project is especially exciting not just because of the large amount of data and content that is user-generated, but it also has special considerations because it will need to be accessible in low-bandwidth, developing areas on a variety of devices.

I am largely responsible for the technical architecture and strategy to tackle these challenges. I am especially excited about working with World Pulse because this site has the potential to significantly improve - and even save - the lives of people living in developing nations.

Tell us about an important lesson you've learned in your career.

Never stop learning. It's a simple mantra, but I try and live by it every day. Whether it is a new programing language, a type of dance, a foreign language, new technology, or just how to make a cheesecake, I try to constantly challenge myself to keep the learning muscles strong.

I am constantly reading, trying new things, and expanding my knowledge set. Not to mention, the more I learn, the more mistakes I make that just teaches me more important lessons.

Name an 'unsung hero', someone you admire who deserves more recognition for their work.

One of my coworkers, David Diers, is an absolute star when it comes to backend performance and development. He spends a bulk of his time in the weeds debugging backend issues, and figuring out what are, in my opinion, some of the hardest problems to solve in Drupal. He has also taught me how to improve database performance, fix Drupal Views issues, and solve many other performance-related questions.

Vote in the net Awards!

Celebrating the best in web design and development, the 15th net Awards (opens in new tab) is open for public voting until 24 March. With a record breaking number of nominations this year, it's set to be the biggest and best yet. Have your say by casting your votes here (opens in new tab).

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