Michael Gourlay uses the powers of Evil to commit acts of Good (mostly)
Dr. Gourlay, I presume?
This fascinating gentleman skated into our lives a few years ago and whilst we were immediately taken by how brilliant he is (he was the lead of the team that created spatial mapping for HoloLens – NBD!) we also saw how…human-centric he is. We became immediate friends and have been looking for EXACTLY the right time to do a photo shoot. I think we can all agree that this is probably the most unique feature yet: Holograms! Space pants! Tron!
Nerding out in Fremont will never be the same.
Tell us a little about you.
I try to live in the future. I often live in my head.
I am a serial careerist and hobbyist. My motto, apparently, is “never get too good at any one thing”.
I think of myself as a game developer but I now get paid to make platforms (like HoloLens) and fluid simulations. Still, I write game engine code every week — almost every day.
Tell us about what you’re wearing.
Tron is my go-to outfit for any occasion where I can get away with it. Which is perhaps more often than you might think.
Another motto I have is “Put on your tight pants; the future is here!”
The galactic onesie and tight pants are another homage to futuristic looks science fiction has prepared us to expect.
How did your style evolve to what it is now?
I used to subscribe to the fashion sense espoused by Einstein, Obama, Zuckerberg — have replicas of the same thing, and save your decision-making cycles for more important topics. But then I also like to go to cyber goth clubs, so I always had this “business in the daytime, party at night” fashion dichotomy. One day I heard a colleague described as “works like a coal miner, dresses like a rock star” and I thought, that’s what I want for my epitaph, so I gradually started looking for items that I could wear every day that had a more distinct sense of style.
Not quite rock star, but more stylish than a closet full of hoodies.
Do you have any style icons or favorite brands?
I love our local designer, Michelle Conley, who runs Mishu Boutique.
I love window-shopping Cryoflesh and Rebels Market.
I also love Chrissy Wai-Ching Leung, but I can’t wear her stuff — mostly bridal.
I envy the variety of legitimate and stylish looks women have. Men have less variety and most of what variety there is bores me.
Any advice for a young person thinking about getting into a STEM field?
I feel the same way about coding that I hear poets and novelists describe their passion for writing. Either you can’t help but write or you do something else. Because coding at upper levels is something you have to want to do. It’s how you spend your free time. It’s what you’d do if you had fuck-you money. That’s me. My dream is to make $10 million then focus 100% on making game tech that I want to make.
The advice is: Get into STEM because you can’t be kept from it. Don’t pursue STEM for the stability or lucrative nature. Follow your passion.
(Note from Dona: We at Fibonacci Sequins are strong believers in passion. After all, this project was done because we *couldn’t NOT*, but we also believe that at the start of people’s careers, it’s hard for them to “know their passion”, so we are also believers in interest/enthusiasm/curiosity. If you are enthusiastic about learning something and get kind of good at it, passion will naturally follow. Pursue enthusiasm and learning…and don’t be afraid to toss it aside if you don’t like it. You do NOT need to get married and have babies with every idea you come up with!)
What would you say is the project you’ve done that you’re proudest of?
HoloLens, especially the parts where we took broken or incomplete ingredients and turned them into viable products.
We used to classify HoloLens into 2 categories: Hard and Miracle. We used to have enough in the Miracle category that we figured, realistically, there was a strong chance the project could fail to deliver on its promise — it could get cancelled. But we had our eyes wide open and we worked on it anyway because we couldn’t imagine a world without HoloLens. So we made it happen, one miracle at a time.
Are there any misconceptions about STEM fields that you’d like to clear up?
That STEM is for nerdy guys. Wrong on both counts.
Conversely — Have you ever seen a beginner fashion design kit not marketed toward little girls?
I wish there were a (serious) Klutz Book of Fashion Design, or some such kit, either gender-neutral or aimed at boys and men who want to get into making their own style.
Similarly for cosplay. And here’s where STEM comes full circle: to get exceptionally intricate with cosplay and ultra-stylish looks, you must be deliberate and calculated with your designs, and you must integrate exotic execution techniques like computer-aided design (CAD), computer numeric control (CNC), circuit design and other high-tech stuff. Look at styles you see at Burning Man — you need mechanical, electrical and software engineering skills to pull off some of those outfits. I want to see this merger become commonplace in elementary, junior and high schools, not just elite and esoteric design schools.
Anything else you’d like to share with the audience?
The most important aspect in life is sharing it with others. Who you’re with is more important than where you are or what you do. Find people who synergize with you, form a team, and grow that team together.
What is the best way (if any) for people to follow you on social media?
You can find me on twitter: @MiJaGourlay.
We love, love LOVE Mike’s philosophy on life, “to be shared with others”. Though he claims to use the powers of evil to commit acts of good, we can attest first-hand that his is one of the most giving, kind, community centered people we have ever known. He is always the first one to organize a lunch or a happy hour to get to know people better–to him there is no difference between work and life.
It must all be lived how it’s supposed to be lived: with great passion and love. And we couldn’t agree with that more!
Dona & Beth