Joe Stump on How Art and Architecture Influences Shape Engineering Career

In Chapter 6 of 16 of his 2009 Capture Your Flag interview, SimpleGeo co-founder Joe Stump shares how his mom's love for art and dad's affinity for building and architecture shaped his career ambitions. Early on, Stump practices art and progressively takes liking to engineering - including practical experience working on cars, installing heaters, building houses - which teach structure, assembly, and design. Over time, he translates these experiences into computer programming and web architecture.  Stump is the co-founder and CTO at SimpleGeo (, a San Francisco-based mobile location infrastructure services company.  Previously Stump was Lead Architect at Digg.  He programs in PHP, Python, Django and enjoys scaling websites.  He earned a BBA in Computer Information Systems from Eastern Michigan University.


Erik Michielsen:  You frame what you do as building virtual skyscrapers.  Your parents are both artists.  Your dad, specifically, is both a builder and an architect.  How did they influence your development?

Joe Stump:  My mom was a really good artist when she was younger and my dad was an architect and a builder as you said.  In many ways you end up being a composite view of your parents. So I was left-handed like my mom and we think very visually and stuff like that, so I ended up being really involved in art and what not.  My dad is total analytical engineer brain, so I got a lot of that working on cars, putting in heaters, and building houses with him and stuff. 

So, that is probably why I was drawn to coding, specifically.  Coding at the end of the day is a creative endeavor, but it allows me to flex both sides of my brain.  Obviously there is a lot of engineering involved, 1s and 0s and that kind of thing.  There is also a lot of creativity and artistry to what we do.  They’ve influenced me greatly, obviously.