American Physical Society

Ron Toland - Junior Programmer

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Job Info

Extrabux,  Inc.

Employer Home Page:

Position Type:
Product Development

Ron Toland's Job:
"My job is to help implement the system architecture designed by the senior developers, " Ron says.  "Right now we're working on a new comparison shopping engine that uses multiple discount programs to find the lowest price for a product. Our system has to sift through over 70 million products to pull out the one lowest-priced item a customer searches for. I get to work on both the client-facing part of the system (the PHP, HTML, and Javascript that creates the web pages our customers use) and the back-end data processing (Java)."

My Previous Jobs:
Ron came to programming by a long and crooked path.  His first job after graduation was as an optical engineer at the NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center, performing optical alignment and testing on space telescopes. After five years there, Ron moved into a writing career,  eventually ending up as a writer and producer in the games industry for two years.  His contact with programmers began there, and he picked up HTML, PHP, and Python. From there Ron started writing his own programs, and decided he wanted to pursue programming full-time.

Career Facts

Employer Type:

Current Location:
CA 92109

Physics Degree:

Educational Information

BA,  Philosophy,  University of Central Arkansas
BS,  Physics,  University of Arkansas,  Fayetteville

More about Ron Toland

Ron Toland's other interests:
In addition to writing code, Ron also enjoys writing short fiction,  reading sci/fi & fantasy, watching movies, exploring San Diego, and working through Dragon Quest IV on DS.

Ron says that his Physics background has also informed his Science Fiction writing: "it helped me depict future technologies in realistic ways, and I even designed a magic system around the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics."

Ron Toland


Ron grew up in West Texas, and, according to him, spent too much time playing video games, reading up on particle physics, and dreaming of going into space to be happy doing anything non-technical as an adult.  So it's ironic that he ended up where he is today!

"I originally got into physics because I decided I wanted to work for NASA. I'd just finished my philosophy degree, but instead of going on to graduate school, I decided I wanted to join the technical world."  Since graduation with a BS in Physics in 2001, Ron first worked as an optical engineer at the NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center, and after spending two years working as a writer and producer in the games industry, he eventually began writing his own programs and decided to pursue programming full time.

Ron says that his Physics training has helped him in every job he's had since graduating.  "As an optical engineer, " he says, "physics helped me grasp the fundamentals of any new technology I came across, and gave me the background I needed to invent technologies of my own. As a programmer, " he adds, "my physics training helps me design rigorous tests for the code I write,  as well as giving me the understanding needed for some of the mathematical algorithms I need to use."