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Photo of Tom Knox

Occupation: Senior engineer, Apple, Inc.

Degree or certificate program at CLC:
A.S. in computer science, 1995.

Transfer school: B.S. in computer engineering,University of Illinois, 1998.

Hometown: Born in Aurora, Ill.; later moved to Zion, Ill.

High School: Zion-Benton, 1988.

Interests and hobbies: Restoring old record albums; being a dad.

Tom Knox

I’ve been living in beautiful Silicon Valley for years, happily working at Apple, Inc. in Cupertino, Calif. My job, known as a monitoring master, puts me on the front line to make sure that a consumer’s Apple product can digitally “talk” to our company servers via the internet. The products that I work with include the iPhone, iPad, Macintosh, Apple Store, iTunes and iCloud.

I wrote the software that’s used internally to pull data from about 5,000 servers a minute. The software processes and collates the data—and publishes approximately 20 million statistics per minute about how our internal servers are running. Then, I do some cool math with the data to generate correlation graphs so that we can spot a technical problem, and fix it, before it gets worse.

When I was in high school, I was told by others that CLC is one of best community colleges in country. After attending CLC—and getting a quality college education for a very inexpensive tuition—I agree: CLC is one of the best. At many large universities, it’s not uncommon to have 500 students in a lecture hall, taught by a teaching assistant. At CLC, the classes generally have 15-30 students, and the professors are willing to help you outside of class. That personal approach really helped me, and I fully recommend CLC.

At CLC, I gained a solid grounding in math, English and science. In a linear algebra class, the professor explained different theorems and taught how to think about them—and not simply memorize. A calculus professor was very energetic and made you excited about learning calculus, even though it wasn’t an easy subject.

In a chemistry class, a professor helped me discover strengths that I didn’t know I had. Prior to enrolling, I had never worked much in the subject, but I discovered that I was good at it. At the urging of the professor, I decided to be a chemistry tutor. It was a step outside my comfort zone because at the time, I was very much a quiet introvert. But working with people daily drew me out, increased my self-confidence and prepared me well for the work world.

At my employers over the years, including Amazon and National Geographic, I have become known as the guy who can explain technical things clearly. Right now, I teach an internal class on the Python programming language to Apple employees.

My CLC experiences outside of class also were fun and very rewarding. I was captain of CLC’s College Bowl team, in which we competed against other colleges in quizzes on subjects ranging from science and history to trivia. The experience taught me how to think clearly under pressure.

At CLC I made new friends, and I still keep in touch with several to this day. It’s great to have built friendships that have lasted decades.