Mike Lee at 360iDev: Impacting the World Through Engineering

At the recent 360iDev conference in San Jose, former Delicious Monster and Tapulous developer, now an Apple employee, Mike Lee, delivered an engaging and expansive keynote. Unlike the more technical presentations that dominated the event, Lee’s talk ventured into the philosophical realms of engineering and its impact on society. He shared insights from his own career trajectory, including his stint working on the Terrorist Watch List, and his deep appreciation for Van Gogh’s Starry Night.

Lee opened his speech by defining an engineer as a problem solver, a theme that resonated throughout his discourse. He recounted his early experiences with computing, emphasizing the transformative potential of software.

He described the computer as a metaphorical tool that extends far beyond its physical capabilities, embodying larger ideas and solutions.

His career began in the aviation sector, where he developed software for airline companies. Lee highlighted a significant project where he revamped the Terrorist Watch List from a basic Excel file to a more sophisticated, automated system. This project hinted at the inception of Secure Flight, a system he suggested he might have had a hand in developing.

Throughout his talk, Lee candidly shared his views on failure and success. He humorously noted that failure is a more effective teacher than success, as it forces one to confront and learn from their mistakes.

This perspective has driven him to continually seek new challenges and solutions, not just in software, but in everyday life scenarios.

Lee also delved into the philosophical, drawing parallels between engineering and art. He spoke of artists like Van Gogh who immersed themselves in their work to capture and convey deeper realities. Similarly, Lee views his engineering projects as opportunities to not only solve technical problems but to reshape and enhance human experiences.

As the presentation neared its end, Lee shared a personal anecdote about a minor traffic incident, using it as a metaphor for perspective and choice in how we interpret and react to life’s events. He concluded by challenging the audience to broaden their view of engineering—to see it as a discipline that not only builds software but also constructs better realities and solves universal problems.

In his final remarks, Lee expressed a desire to redefine his professional identity beyond the confines of the term “software engineer.” He encouraged the audience to embrace a broader vision of engineering, one that encompasses the entire universe as a system that can be understood and influenced.

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Wei is a dedicated writer for TUAW, bringing readers the latest insights and updates on all things Apple. With a keen eye for detail and a love for technology, Wei covers everything from the newest iPhone releases to the latest macOS updates. His articles are a go-to source for Apple enthusiasts who want to stay informed about their favorite gadgets, including the iPad, Apple Watch, and MacBook. Wei’s clear and engaging writing style makes complex tech topics accessible to everyone.