Employee Spotlight: A Chat With One of our Principal Engineers

October 21, 2015 Amelia Carpenter

Our Employee Spotlight series is an opportunity to get to know some of the Narrative Science employees and as you get to know our team, you’ll learn more about Narrative Science and the reason that our customers cite 'our people' as one of the top reasons they choose to work with us. This month, we spoke with Nate Nichols, one of our Principal Engineers. 


How did you end up at Narrative Science? 

After growing up in a small town in Indiana and attending DePauw University, I graduated with a degree in CS, and minors in math and English literature. After college, I decided to pursue my Ph.D at Northwestern and began working in the Intelligent Information Laboratory with Kris Hammond, our Chief Scientist, and Larry Birnbaum, our Scientific Advisor. One thing lead to another, and I began my first job post-grad school at Narrative Science. 


What’s the best part about working here?

The people. It’s really true. Our team has kept me charged up and passionate about staying here for the past five and a half years. We have a good mix of people and continue to grow more diverse. 

When’s the hardest you’ve ever laughed while at work?

Probably the time that a fellow coworker and I were partners in our annual office Olympics. I had to push him in an office chair blindfolded while he gave me directions. It was a timed race, and he decided to give me directions in radians and was rattling off, “3/2 pi!” and such, so figuring out which direction that was while everyone was screaming made me laugh really hard.


How do you continually stay inspired in your work?

I go hang out with the Professional Services team to see all the cool ways our technology is being applied. 

When Quill, our technology platform, first existed, I was the go-to guy when there was a problem. Once Quill began working pretty well, the Professional Services team started doing all kinds of neat stuff for our clients without my assistance. Now when I go talk with them, they’re doing things in Quill that I didn’t realize it could do. 

It’s super exciting to realize that I helped build a platform that is constantly writing stories for clients I didn’t even realize we could do. It’s been awesome to see our technology evolve from running on a couple of grad students’ laptops to powering a business that employs more than 80 people. It makes me super excited to think about where we’ll be in five years!


Favorite programming language? CoffeeScript all the way.


Favorite text editor? Sublime Text 3, and I feel very strongly about this.


What’s your favorite thing about Chicago?

It feels like a great mix of Big City and Small Neighborhoods. It’s very easy to walk around and feel like you know where you are, but it’s also big enough that it has about everything you’d want to do. Plus I’m Midwestern, I appreciate the friendly people here. And not to mention Chicago’s burgeoning tech community!


Interested in joining our team at Narrative Science? Check out open positions here

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