David Chang explains how Android engineering is changing how people across the world collaborate
Mobile technology is one of the fastest-growing, most important sectors in the tech industry. At Dropbox in particular, team members like David Chang have been influential in changing the way we’re able to help users worldwide collaborate from anywhere. He shared his journey from U.S. Marine to Android Engineer with us, and explained why the Android community is so important.
Can you tell us a little about your education and journey to Dropbox?
It was a bit of a journey itself to get the great education I had. I wasn’t the best student in high school, as my GPA was 2.8. I enlisted into the United States Marines because I wanted to gain the discipline and leadership skills that are known to be present in the Marines. My MOS (Military Occupational Specialty) was “Tactical Data Network”, which was basically an IT Network Admin. My military service really equipped me to be a better student, as it taught me the value of hard work. After four years in the Marines, I decided to re-enter civilian life and enroll in my local community college in Southern California. I had no clue what computer science was, but I liked tech and I had some experience with computers. I worked extremely hard in school and also had a part-time job. I did well enough in community college to be accepted into UC Berkeley, and then had a few jobs in between graduation and Dropbox.
What work are you most proud of in your Dropbox career?
During my career, I’ve learned how to become a multiplier. I really enjoy enabling other engineers to do their best work. I’m in the perfect position at Dropbox to make that happen for the wider Android community here. I work on the Mobile Platform team at Dropbox. Our team is ultimately responsible for the developer experience for mobile engineers. So far, I’ve worked on several things that make our code base better and safer. However, the thing I’m most proud of is reducing our local build times by 25%. It sounds more impressive when you consider that there are a few dozen Android engineers.
What’s your favorite thing about Android engineering?
The first thing that comes to mind is the community. I’ve attended several Android conferences over the years and have met engineers from other companies. I’ve met authors of very popular open source libraries, and they are very human and down-to-earth.
Why is Android engineering an important part of Dropbox?
Mobile is a big part of Dropbox’s long term strategy. Mobile unlocks a lot of use cases for users that wouldn’t make much sense on a desktop. We allow for our users to access what’s important to them and collaborate from anywhere.
How have you seen your team grow or change during your time at Dropbox?
I work on a fairly senior team and it’s been pretty stable since I’ve joined a year and a half ago. For the rest of Android, however, we’ve grown a lot. We have had a lot of headcount for mobile in 2019, and are continuing to hire at a very fast, but sustainable pace.
How do you feel the work you do is also helping the world to work better?
I really love tech, and I embrace newer and faster ways of doing things. When I first used the Dropbox Android app, I quickly discovered two of my favorite features: camera uploads and document scanner. As a parent, I take a lot of photos of my kids and I feel safe that my memories will be safe in Dropbox. I recently stopped keeping hard copies of bills and medical records. With our Dropbox Android app, I’m able to scan and upload those documents to the cloud. I get a sense of satisfaction when I shred those documents knowing that I have a digital copy safe in Dropbox. Looking back, I recall that when I first used those features, I was extremely delighted at how well it worked. That’s what I want to pay forward to the rest of the world.