From Pre-Med to Mapping Biomedical Research as it Happens: Timmy Huang’s Engineering Journey

Timmy Huang is a Staff Software Engineer at the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative. Timmy works as a frontend developer on Meta, a research discovery tool that uses machine learning to provide a faster way to understand and explore science. I was curious to learn more about Timmy and the adventures that eventually led him to CZI!

Timmy, thank you so much for agreeing to be interviewed! Can you tell me a little bit about where you’re from and how you came to CZI?

Thank you for having me, Arathi! 🤩

Throwing it way back, what initially got you interested in Computer Science? Did you always know that this was your passion or did you go through any sort of journey to realize your interests?

Great question! My first memory of interacting with a computer was probably around 5 years old, when I sat on my dad’s lap and played a game on a Macintosh Plus. I was pretty fascinated by the machine and continued to tinker around with computers as a kid — building and repairing computers for myself and others, optimizing browsers and operating systems, and selling pirated Pokemon games to my elementary classmates 🤦‍♂️

Meta-for-patients Create-a-thon team!

You’re involved in so many cool things at CZI! Can you tell me about one of your favorite things you’ve been a part of? How about outside of work?

Thank you! CZI’s goal is to build a better future for everyone, so naturally we attract incredible talent and lovely people that make me feel very grateful every day to be part of this wonderful family.

Can you tell me a little about the frontend technologies used to build Meta? Are there any emerging technologies you are excited for in the near future?

Meta’s frontend is built with React, React Router, Redux, Express.js, and Webpack 4 at its core. Overall the stack is pretty consistent with many other web applications in the industry, because we want to ensure that the tools we use are battle tested, stable, and familiar to many engineers. That allows us to focus on delivering features that delight our users, instead of blindly chasing the bleeding edge technology.

Grace Hopper Conference 2018

I couldn’t resist bringing this up, since it is probably the most-talked about subject today — COVID-19. We’ve all been quarantined for quite some time; is there any unexpected benefit or joy that being home so much has brought you?

Absolutely! One fun habit that I picked up since the shelter-in place-is “micro-workouts,” essentially filling in small time gaps throughout the day with spontaneous short workout routines.

Software Engineer @ Chan Zuckerberg Initiative