I was born Bryan Clifford Bilyeu on Wednesday, March 19, 1975 in the lovely city of Eugene in the beautiful state of Oregon. Bryan (proper spelling only, please) is a great name; there's even a city by the same name. It's an old Irish Gaelic name which means "strength, virtue". Jihyun, a Korean friend of mine, had her parents translate Bryan into Korean, and the result was 덕 승 ("Dukseung"), which means "virtue, victory". Close enough. The name Clifford is after my paternal grandfather and my mother's paternal grandfather. The name Bryan was a name my parents found in a name book; they wanted something unique. Ironic, non? My last name is fairly rare. Actually, its spelling is completely an American invention, so there have only been a few generations of Bilyeus. Originally, the name is Billiou and is of French derivation, though I have yet to find out the meaning.
I lived in Cottage Grove, where both of my parents grew up, and Gardiner. My brother was born in nearby Reedsport while we lived in Gardiner. I remember a great deal about Gardiner. I was only 3, but I remember our cat Stub, who I understand was quite the brawler down at the local tavern, and I remember our dalmation Barney. We lived in a big, white house, had a yellow bath tub with old-fashioned feet, and my grandmother lived in the attic. When I was five, we moved to Arlington, Oregon.
In Arlington, I met my Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Arlington, Oregon is a tiny town along the Columbia River Gorge off I-84 between Hermiston and The Dalles--50 miles from either one. When I lived there, there was a Coast-to-Coast hardware store, a post office, and the Pheasant Inn restaurant. That was the thriving business district. There may also have been a gas station, but I don't remember it. There was a train station, because I recall one day the governor was coming through town on the train, and my kindergarten class went to the station to greet him with a rousing rendition of "A-R-L-I-N-G-T-O-N". I vaguely recall the tune. I wish I could remember more of the words. Or which letter I carried. I'm pretty sure I had a letter, though there were 15 in my kindergarten class. There were twelve boys and three girls. I remember three of each. I had a best friend in Arlington named Lee Cloud, and he had a brother Jojo who liked to play with black widows. That still gives me the shivers. I had a wonderful Kindergarten teacher by the name of Mrs. Miller. I did have trouble with her name though. I began being bad with names at an early age. My parents still taunt me for referring to her as Mrs. "Workler." Our school mascot was the tiger. I remember we had shirts that said "Turner's Tigers" on them. Hmm. In retrospect, our principal Mr. Turner must have had an enormous ego. Now Arlington has apparently changed its mascot to some sort of goose, as they are the Home of the Honkers. Well, whatever floats your boat.
After my first couple of weeks in first grade, we began our excursion to California. During that year, I lived in Lodi, Lebec, and Frazier Park, California; I even spent some time in Catherine, Arizona, and Farmington, New Mexico. I'll try never to make that mistake again. The summer before I started second grade, we moved to Stockton, California, where I spent the bulk of my elementary and high school years.
Let me tell you a little about Stockton. It's in the middle of the San Joaquin Valley. They call it lush, but coming from the Willamette Valley, Oregon, I thought I was in the middle of the Sahara. Stockton is about the only green thing in the Central Valley, though. I must say that it can be a little odd. For instance, one of its most attended events is the Stockton Asparagus Festival. I went to that thing once, but it wasn't exactly enjoyable since I despise asparagus.
For second through eighth grades, I attended Delta Island Elementary School. I didn't have much of a choice, since I lived right next door to it. It was a nice school, though, with only about 200 students. Then I attended, it was its own school district, but now I understand that the school belongs to the Tracy district.
Delta Island School is located on Union Island, but it received students from Roberts Island and several others. Islands in the middle of the Central Valley, you ask? Yes. A series of deep canals connects Stockton to the Pacific Ocean, making Stockton the furthest inland deep-water sea port in the world. Or so I've heard. The canals are bounded by levees that keep the water back from the farmland. The whole region was swampy before the levees were built. These many canals separate off tracts of land to create islands. I suppose that I could say, "I com' from an islan', man." But I don't.
I did grow up in what might as well have been a foreign country, however. Delta Island was at least eighty percent Mexican. Most of my classmates had been born in Mexico, but came to the United States when they were fairly young. The other significant group of families in the school were the predominantly Italian farmers. They had been in the area for a few generations and owned the farms on which most of the Mexicans worked. I was the only person in my class who was neither Mexican nor Italian. And my parents had nothing to do with farming, except that my dad liked the idea of living so far out of town that our only neighbors were tomatoes and asparagus.
In third and fourth grade, I was fascinated with superheroes. My best friend Albert Joseph Muller and I had each created our own collection of superheroes. We drew our heroes and wrote stories about them. I had the Cosmic Heroes and Albert had the Invincible Heroes. I don't remember the names of his heroes too well, but I do recall Zacton, Zactona, and Electro. I had Spidder, Acrobata, Heatono, Heatona, Electrono, and Electrona. The great villain, Spidder's nemesis, was Trisquare. I can't say I've ever been accused of being overly original or creative. Then again, perhaps all of the obvious names had already been taken by the writers of Marvel and DC Comics.
The Cosmic Heroes were strongly influenced by Superfriends, the cartoon based on DC Comics heroes. I was an avid fan. Albert was more aware of Marvel superheroes from comic books that I have never read. Superfriends was not the only cartoon that I watched, however. I also thoroughly enjoyed Star Blazers, an animé cartoon (Japanimation) about space travel and intergalactic warfare. Based on Star Blazers, I invented my Galactic Heroes. As usual, I was simply brimming with originality and creativity. The Royal Empire, ruled by Prince Questor and centered on planet Cometra, was expanding its territory to include Earth. (Any resemblance to Prince Zordar of Star Blazer's Comet Empire was, of course, entirely coincidental.) Off in the distance, the Victorian Empire was Cometra's rival, but the main concern was the conflict between the Royal Empire and resistance on Earth. The resistors were the Galactic Heroes, who had a ship that closely resembled the Star Blazers' Argo, except that the Argo was based upon a WWII destroyer, while the Galactic Heroes ship was based on a curling iron. Don't laugh! A curling iron makes an exceptional space ship. It's certainly more convincing than the modified flying saucer that serves as Star Trek's U.S.S. Enterprise. I also found that the Comet Empire's flagship is well represented by a wiffle ball.
After graduation, I went to Tracy Joint Union High School. Mine was the last class to graduate from a one-high-school town. Go Bulldogs! Now the in-town competition comes from the West High Wolfpack. Is that a retarded name, or what? Actually, it's dishonest for me to claim to root for the Bulldogs. Truth be known, I didn't attend a single football game (or game for any other sport, though football is the only sport that mattered in Tracy) in my four years at Tracy High. I think that the football games were the place to hang out, but I can't say for sure, since I was never at one of them. I heard that when Tracy was a bit smaller, the entire city would shut down on Friday nights for the ball game.
I tried a number of activities my freshman year in high school. Having played cornet and then baritone in my elementary school band since the fourth grade, I decided to join the high school band. At the beginning of my freshman year, there were two major transitions in my life: I got contacts and I got braces. It was wonderful not to have to wear glasses, but the braces were brutal to my brass career. I had never practiced in elementary school band, so I was no amazing player, but tooting on my horn became much more difficult when my teeth were further from the mouthpiece then they used to be. Playing became an unpleasant experience, but I did enjoy marching. And it was fun to be a part of the low brass. They were pretty mellow, sitting back and making fun of the trumpets and woodwinds. Band was my only musical exploit in high school, and I gave it up after my freshman year, because I didn't have room for it in my academic schedule.
I also took Speech and Debate my freshman year. I had always been an argumentative child, so S&D was a natural choice. I was turned off to debate, however, when I discovered through competition that it was more about form than content. In Student Congress, the entry-level debate format, the key is simply to speak as much and as passionately as possible without making a complete fool of oneself. At least at the high-school level, the content of the speech didn't seem to matter much. I recall one student from another school mindlessly repeating one metaphor and receiving a top ranking in the debate. He had no evidence, no reasoning, just a metaphor. I moved up to Lincoln-Douglas debate, and I ran into an even more obvious example of the same subjectivity. The watershed moment for me was when I debated a kid who used evidence that was clearly contrary to his arguments. I pointed out the error, and he apparently did not understand the problem. What was galling was that the judges didn't see the glaring logical error, either, as they awarded him the debate. Unlike science, law and debate is a subjective plea. Evidence, method, and logic do not matter as much as appealing to the emotions and concerns of an often sottish audience.
I was a junior in high school when I first heard of MIT. I had heard of Harvard and Princeton and Yale, but never MIT. My Pre-Calculus teacher Mrs. Schroers was lamenting senior Eric Targowski's decision to attend BYU: "He's brilliant. He should go someplace like MIT." I took those words as a challenge. I decided that I should go someplace like MIT.
For my four undergraduate years at MIT, I lived in a historic mansion on the Fenway in Boston, Massachusetts. It's nestled between the Boston Conservatory of Music and the Berklee College of Music, right across the street from Muddy River and the Fens. The building itself is quite amazing and was the first building on the block. The interior is mostly in dark wood paneling and the centerpiece of the House is a three-flight, spiral staircase. After four years there, I began to take the architecture for granted; living where I do now, I can once again marvel at good, ol' 28 The Fenway.
While I had many a brilliant professor there, I learned my most important lessons outside of classes. There are a lot of students who declare and even boast that they hate that foolish place, but I have to say that my friends there made that fine place really worthwhile.
I am an alumnus of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts, graduating with Bachelor of Science and Master of Engineering degrees in Electrical Science & Engineering. I performed my research at the Research Laboratory of Electronics and the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary.
I used to sing baritone (read: "barely-a-tone"), but I became a tenor. I was the musical director for the MIT Cross Products, MIT's only coed, Christian a cappella vocal group. If you happened to notice: yes, the name is a bit gnurdy, but we are first and foremost the Products of the Cross of Jesus Christ.
My graduate school year at MIT, I lived with two of my Fraternity Brothers in an apartment in Kenmore Square. After that apartment burned down, I purchased a condominium in the Queensberry Street neighborhood of the Fenway. It was a dark tomb, but I didn't have to worry about cooling it in the summer. I lived in the Fenway for thirteen years before moving to South Boston.
I was a hardware design engineer in the Baseband Signal Processing Group at Teradyne, Inc. for six and a half years. Teradyne builds automatic test equipment for semiconductors. I took part in the design of the Broadband Analog Channel (BBAC), an instrument option on the Catalyst and Tiger testers.
After a brief stint at Agamatrix, I started at Cambridge Consultants, where I've been for over three years.