Class Year


Current Hometown:

Brooklyn, New York… to my immense surprise. I grew up in Vermont and am a small town boy in my heart.

Job and Employer

Software engineer at DataDog


I am currently a software engineer at DataDog, where we do monitoring and analytics for cloud infrastructure. My work consists of designing, building, and debugging systems that handle data at very high volumes. Programming is a nice combination of independent and cooperative work. Though it sounds strange to many people when I say this, it suits my inclination towards skilled craft work: it feels ‘artisanal’, in the standard, non-hipster-pejorative sense of the word. I might have to write an essay to elaborate on that thought.

Community work & family

My wife and I just had our first child, Eli Simon Bender, so that occupies most of my time right now! When I have spare time, I spend it rock climbing, woodworking, and tinkering with my project car, a rusty 1968 Volvo.

Senior project:

My senior project was a hand-animated film based on a play by Aristophanes.


My internship was with the architect Christopher Alexander - curiously, as it turns out, his books Notes on the Synthesis of Form and A Pattern Language are perhaps as well known in computer science circles as in architecture.

Human ecology in action:

In the building of software systems, human ecology becomes relevant in the social meta-systems
that we construct and evolve in order to build those systems, and also in interpreting the
effects those systems have in the world. A concrete example: the Linux kernel is a software
project spanning several decades and something like 14,000 individual contributors, and it is
substantially responsible for the success of the modern internet, and therefore the ongoing
reshaping of the earth and humankind. There is a culture there, a history, a folklore, heroes,
and villains. Whether you’re a luddite or a techno-optimist, it’s something worth understanding
in all its sprawling, messy, interconnected wholeness. If that’s not human ecology, I don’t know
what is.

Considerations for prospective students:

COA encouraged an intellectual daring that has been invaluable for me: not to limit one’s purview because “I am a (some discipline) so I can’t participate meaningfully in (some other discipline).” Failure is an important component of this; repeated failures, in contexts where the blast radius of consequence is constrained, enables rapid improvement. I had lots of failed experiments at COA, but constructive criticism and feedback - especially in the visual arts, I need to give massive credit
to Nancy, JoAnne, Ernie, and Isabel here - turned each failure into learning.