Off the Grid...Yet So Dialed In
A peer profile of Social Sentinel Senior Engineer, Matt Scafidi-McGuire.
We recently interviewed our Senior Engineer, Matt Scafidi-McGuire to get his take on life at Social Sentinel, his love of the outdoors, and what makes him excited to tackle each day.
Why did you join Social Sentinel?
The problem of threats being shared on public platforms and social media seemed like a very interesting one from both a tech perspective and social mission perspective. It felt topical and in the moment society wise. The need for social media awareness is in the news daily. There are numerous instances where our system might have helped alleviate or deter a negative situation.
The contemporary nature of the problems we work to solve led me to believe that there was a lot of potential for growth in this technology sector. I wanted to be part of one of the cutting edge solutions out there.
What’s a unique aspect of your role as Senior Engineer?
The dynamic nature of my day and the really interesting problems we get to tackle. Some jobs are predictable. Some are not. In my role, you don’t really know what you’ll be working on each day. There are lots of balls in the air and lots of collaboration going on. I’d say it is definitely the most unique aspect of my position.
What’s a typical workday like for you?
I work remotely outside of the Burlington office and typically try and sign in each morning before much of the team arrives in the actual office for our morning meeting. That’s usually followed by a few meetings and calls to set up the day.
Beyond the mundane, I spend a lot of my days working on architectural improvements and feature development for our solution.
There is a lot of research and development and prototyping of new systems. Often, when my schedule & the weather cooperates, I get out for a quick mountain bike, cross country ski, or some lucky winters for an early backcountry skin up a northern Adirondack peak. It helps break up the day and clear my head.
Give us your one-minute origin story…
I grew up in Eastern Massachusetts in a town called Clinton–roughly 45 minutes from Boston. From there I attended Clarkson University in Potsdam NY. After graduating, I moved around the US extensively. I am passionate about many outdoor sports and have been lucky to pursue them throughout the country. However, I always kept coming back to northern New York, where there is ample opportunity for all of the things I love to do in the Adirondack mountains – mountain biking, backcountry skiing, rock & ice climbing… the list goes on.
Straight out of college I got the chance to work for a defense contractor and spent time living in Ocean Beach near San Diego. I spent a lot of time recreating near Las Vegas, Yosemite, and other areas with some great desert rock climbing opportunities. As soon as my school loans were paid off, I left that position and went straight to Snowbird and lived in Salt Lake City to be a ski bum.
When I returned to the east coast, I did a lot of everything. I ran a summer camp on a big organic farm for about 40-70 kids, did some land surveying, worked at a climbing gym. I also worked at a few local colleges and universities here in northern NY, including seven years at St. Lawrence University running their geospatial lab with some teaching and supporting geospatial-related research as well as building & supporting their school website, sports & academic department websites. I also spent a few years working on the financial aid software for SUNY-Potsdam on an old VAX mainframe. Like I said, a little bit of everything.
What is something your coworkers don’t know about you?
My family and I have lived off the grid for about 12 years. We have close to 40 acres of land and woods which takes up a lot of my time to maintain. I live there with my family, my wife and our two boys, ages 9 and 12. Which altogether, along with skiing, biking & everything else, keep me very busy. Luckily the kids generally enjoy the skiing, climbing, & life in the outdoors, so it’s all good.
How do you spend your time outside of work?
I am an avid mountain biker, climber, and skier. Living in upstate New York and frequently being in Vermont means the outdoor opportunities are limitless. I enjoy having access so many outdoor recreational opportunities. Also, the maintenance on the 40 acres of land we have keeps me pretty busy, but I enjoy it all.
As we head into winter, I’ll spend a lot of time skiing both cross country & telemark. I’ve been on the volunteer ski patrol at Titus Mountain in Malone, NY. I’ve been patrolling off & on since I was 17. I’d had a long break but started again once my kids were old enough to ski.
Any parting words about what lies ahead for us?
I look forward to continuing the hard and meaningful work we are doing here at Social Sentinel. I’m very excited about what the future holds for us and for what we can do to enhance the safety of the communities, districts, and campuses we protect.