My name is Michael Plasmeier, but almost everyone calls me Plaz. I am a Associate Product Manager at Yahoo - working on the Membership and Geo-related platforms teams. I graduated from MIT in 2013 in Computer Science and Management. I am halfway between the tech and the business world, doing both web development and product development. My interest in doing both started while I was working on GridView, an app I built after 10th Grade that reached 1.3 million users on Facebook.
Last IAP, I was a Software Development Extern doing testing in Ruby on the back end at CardSpring. Last summer, I was Product Manager at Disney Parks and Resorts Online where I worked on a project for Disney Cruise Line. Last January, I worked in management/strategy consulting at Altman Vilandrie & Company. The previous summer, I was a web developer at NextJump, an online affiliate advertising firm in New York. Prior to that, I was an extern in the Office of the Chief Scientist at State Street. My freshman summer I worked at Deutsche Bahn, the German national railroad, where I designed the smartphone version Touch&Travel, an app that lets you pay for the train with your phone.
At MIT I was heavily involved in classes, usually taking 7 classes a term, while being involved in student government. (I wrote about how I do it in Working out a System.) senior was dedicated to wrapping up requirements. Junior year at MIT I focused on EECS classes, as well as being elected president of Baker House. My second year at MIT focused on management classes. I was also involved in the vendor selection and implementation of the new dining plan. Freshman year, I took core classes and served on the Athena and Printing Committee. (I wrote about just hanging on freshmen year in Learning to Learn.)
I built a lot of web projects in high school. My most popular project, was GridView , an app for Facebook which lets you add the profile pics of all of you're friends to your Facebook profile. GridView had over 1.3 million users and made me some money.
I hosted and produced the video podcast Tecker 911  along with some of my friends. Tecker 911 was a series of 100 5-15 minute shows each which covers a technology topic in a way which is relevant for ordinary people, with a focus towards students and our community. Tecker 911 was also shown on our local public access channel Channel 11.
I started SeniorQuoter,  an open-source web application for senior quotes collections for high school yearbooks. In 11th Grade, I lead a Dynamic Website Building Instruction and Practical Experience Group Study at my high school. I helped 4 other students learn PHP and MySQL and then I project managed version 2 of SeniorQuoter, the administration interface.
Tecker and Conflicter were question and answer services I built in 10th Grade. They never really caught on, but they were the perfect way to learn PHP. Dictionary Robot is something I tarted last year, but abandoned later. In 10th Grade, I was a member of Team 484 and in 11th Grade I was their webmaster.
My first two years at MIT, I was a regular on The Weekly Spin, a weekly take on tech stories and tech policy.
On my Tech page I have had a few pages about Devices I own and other small things that I have built. For example, I also made some improvements for MediaWiki, the software that runs ThePlaz.com and Wikipedia. I made a new skin for MediaWiki and a few MediaWiki extensions
I also tag a lot of stories on Delicious. I also have over 70,000 photos on Flickr. I Tweet kinda regularly. I also post things to YouTube. And of course I have a Facebook. It all comes together on my FriendFeed.
- In my first rotation, I worked on membership and geo platforms.
Intenships and Externships
CardSpring (IAP 2013)
- Developed an end-to-end testing suite for the CardSpring REST API (Rspec, Ruby, REST, Git)
Disney Parks and Resorts Online (Summer 2012)
- Worked with both business and technical stakeholders to design feature and requirements lists; oversaw UX design; and coordinated the design, construction, and integration of components
- Analyzed organizational, recruiting, and onboarding strategies and processes for department VPs
Altman Vilandrie & Company (IAP 2012)
- Analyzed data center market by conducting interviews, building models, and producing slides
- Analyzed the strategy of a major cable/satellite company in the hospitality video market
NextJump (Summer 2011)
NextJump (http://nextjump.com) is a referral marketer based in in New York that provides Corporate Perks portals to over 70% of the Fortune 100. I was a Software Development Engineer intern in New York, NY.
- Front and back-end web developer (HTML, JS, jQuery, Prototype, PHP, Zend, MS SQL Server).
- Led intern project team designing and building a mobile product
State Street (IAP 2011)
- Organized an Innovation Forum in cloud computing, mobility, business processes, and more.
Deutsche Bahn (Summer 2010)
Deutsche Bahn (http://deutschebahn.de) is the integrated, state-owned railway of Germany and Europe’s largest rail operator. I was a Innovation Management intern in PPX (Project Mobility)/Touch&Travel, in Frankfurt, Germany.
- Designed the new Smartphone version of Touch&Travel.
- Prototyped a new multi-layer map platform scheduled for implementation.
- Analyzed technical and business strategy and took part in partner meetings, particularly around NFC.
SocialView was the company I founded, whose big product was GridView. GridView was a Facebook application which let users put all of their friends on their profile
- Had 1.3 million installs; >300,000 peak monthly active users
- Attracted minority partner who invested money in business and provided experience
- About $16,000 in total revenue
- Founder and primary developer (PHP, MySQL, Facebook Platform)
- Managed developers domestically and overseas
via ThePlaz.com Networks
Bespoke Media Group (2009-2010)
Bespoke Media Group (http://bespokemediagroup.com) produces promotions on Facebook and provides social media advice.
- Created and implemented promotions on Facebook, particularly on the Wildfire platform.
- Advised companies on social media strategy and promotions
- Work closely with clients to explain their options and implement their vision.
- Clients included state tourism agencies and cable television networks
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology (http://mit.edu) Bachelors of Science majoring in Management and Computer Science and concentrating in Science, Technology, and Society.
- GPA 4.4/5
Baker House President (2012-2013)
- Managed an Executive Committee of over 20 people and a budget of ~$50,000/year
- Supervised over 10 events ranging from 50 people to over 500 people
- Conducted a review of the room assignment process and passed modifications without friction===Various Dining Committees (2010-)===
Baker representative on Institute committee to award new house dining contract and implement new dining plan.
Athena Committee (2010-)
Student government representative on Institute committee to modernize student printing and “Athena” computing spaces. Institute already implementing recommendations on printing. We able to find changes agreeable to both students and the administration.
VP Facilities and Services Baker House (2009-2012)
Elected house government position in charge of common rooms, loanable equipment, printers. $6,000/year budget.
Media Lab Research Assistant on SocialView
Developer for SocialMenu as a UROP (research assistant), Viral Communications Group, Media Lab
- iPhone web programming, Facebook development (PHP), layout and prototyping, design for human interaction
Part-time position in Computer and Network support in MIT's Information Services & Technology department.
- Provide support to residents for Windows, Mac, network issues, printers, and more
GridView (http://apps.facebook.com/gridview) was an application for Facebook which let users put all of their friends on their profile and makes a photo mosaic of themselves with their friend’s photos. GridView had over 1.3 million installs.
GridView was part of SocialView, a partnership I was the majority owner of. GridView was a great opportunity for a high school student to learn about running a business, including managing contractors, and focusing on strategies to increase revenue. Last year, I worked with an outsourcing firm to build multi-thousand dollar flash application which I designed and created the specifications for.
4Change (http://apps.facebook.com/forchange) is a petitions application that uses the power of social networks to spread petitions. I created the vision and guided a consultant who built the application. 4Change is a SocialView application.
SeniorQuoter (http://seniorquoter.org) is an installable PHP application which lets high school yearbooks streamline their senior quote collection process. SeniorQuoter is freely licensed under the GNU GPL. SeniorQuoter features a clean and simple, highly-usable interface for both students and yearbook departments.
In the second quarter of the 2007-08 school year, I taught a group at my school how to build dynamic websites with PHP and MySQL. After they learned the skills, we created the administration interface for version 2 of SeniorQuoter. I strengthened my leadership skills as a project manager.
Videre is a project I lead and developed at the Pennsylvania Governor's Schools of Excellence in Information, Society & Technology. Videre is a proof of concept of how online gradebooks can be improved. It extends existing online data and presents it in graphical form, finds trends, and keeps updates clear with email and text message alerts as well as newsfeeds.
Geoov (http://geoov.com) is a cluster based mapping site for flickr. It uses Google Maps.
Tecker (http://tecker.net) is a social question and answer service I wrote in PHP during 10th Grade. Although Tecker never caught on with the public, it was very helpful for me in developing my coding skills and researching online communities.
ThePlaz.com (http://theplaz.com) is my main website. It a centralized repository of what I am up to. It also serves as a place to store my smaller projects, such as pure CSS dropdowns for MediaWiki and applications for the TI-83+ calculator. I also post up educational resources and my thoughts on the world which I hope will benefit others.
ThePlaz.com had more than 1.4 million page views in 2008 and has about 5,000 pages of content. I also have over 15,000 of my photos on flickr. Most of my photos and work on ThePlaz.com is licensed under a Creative Commons license, allowing reuse for non commercial purposes.
Dictionary Robot (http://dictionaryrobot.com) was a prototype which lets students look up multiple words at a time in an online dictionary. It was supposed to revolutionize the way students make vocabulary lists, but I ran out of time for it.
ForumsPlace (http://forumsplace.com) was a community site which SocialView acquired. ForumsPlace was a forums hosting site that has plans to become much more, but those plans did not work out.
Tecker 911 (http://911.tecker.net) was a video podcast which shows ordinary people how technology can help their ordinary lives. Tecker 911 was also shown on Haverford’s local cable public access channel, bringing the show to tens of thousands of people. Over the course of 3 years, we produced 100 episodes. I managed 4-5 contributors with whom I shared writing, directing, and editing duties with. I was the show's producer. Tecker 911 was great community service, since we bring technology education to the both the residents of Havertown (on their televisions), and the world (on their computers and iPods).
The Weekly Spin
The Weekly Spin is a weekly podcast I am a contributor on. We discuss and offer our take on news stories in technology each week. In the last few episodes we reviewed recent gadgets from CES, talked about the unconsumer-friendly practices of the cell phone industry, and discussed Obama’s pick for attorney general’s ties to the RIAA. Episodes are available for free download from http://theweeklyspin.com
I was involved in theater in middle school and high school freshmen year with the Haverford Middle School Theater Co. and People’s Light and Theater Company, a professional theater, in Malvern, PA. In middle school I stage managed the 6th grade production of Wonderland! featuring 100 participants. In 2004, I acted at the National Constitution Center in one of the only 2 youth shows ever performed there. Backstage, I volunteered in the lighting department at People’s Light which requires that I effectively communicate with the people who put their lives on the line hanging from a narrow pipe 16 feet off of the ground.
- I was the CTO of the publications (Yearbook and Newspaper) office at my high school. This job requires that I analyze the requirements of the staff to maintain their computers and network.
- I was a regular host and contributor to H-Vision, my school’s morning news program. As a senior member I have a deep relationship with the faculty as I give input in building this growing and developing program. Next year the program will be expanded into a class; I am assisting the district in building next year's program.
- I was part of my school’s FIRST robotics team and was one of the few newbies who traveled to the competition in Annapolis, Maryland in 10th Grade. In 11th Grade, I remade the team's website (now defunct).
- I was also involved with policies regarding technology at my school. I have a deep relationship with the director of technology and the principal of my school. We meet almost every month to discuss upcoming programs and policies. (Sample: Day in the Life)
- I was the sole Student Representative for the School District of Haverford Township Strategic Planning Committee for Technology. The Committee is creating the new 5 year plan for technology use in a $78 million dollar school district. We are currently designing achievable goals for where the school district should be in 5 years. The process is made more difficult because the school faces limited funding for technology and almost no professional development time.
- Interests: Design, product development, policy and incentives, transportation policy, architecture, web development, business strategy, operations, process improvenment
- Programming Skills: PHP, HTML, CSS, JS, jQuery, MySQL, Mobile web, Java, Python
- Language: Conversationally proficient in German
- Personality: INTJ moving ENTJ
Michael Plasmeier is a sophomore at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, MA, pursuing a double major in both Management Science (15) and Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (6-2). Michael bridges the divide between computers and people - more interested in how technology can be used to help people's lives rather than the raw math behind them. Michael has experience in both web development and designing user interfaces as well as managing a team and business strategy.
At MIT, Michael is involved in many activities. In his first semester, Michael became a research assistant at the MIT Media Lab where he developed Facebook applications and user interface concepts for use in research projects. Michael also got a campus job as a Residential Computing Consultant, a position in the Information Services and Technology department offering front line support to students in his dorm. Michael was also elected VP of Facilities and Services in his dorm where he has a $6,000/year budget to maintain the stock of common rooms and loanable equipment.
Michael is also active in student government on campus. In freshmen year he was the undergraduate rep on the committee to evaluate changes to the Athena and printing systems. The institute has already implemented some recommendations, and is working to implement the rest. Michael also served as a representative on the Institute committee to award the new House dining contract (worth ~$4 million/year) putting him in the center of the largest political conflict on campus.
In freshmen year, Michael participated in a Entrepreneurship and China seminar.
Michael is concentrating in Science, Technology, and Society as a humanities concentration.
In the summer of 2010, Michael worked at Deutsche Bahn, the state-owned railway of Germany. Michael worked in the Project Mobility/Touch&Travel department, under the "Innovations Manager" for NFC (Near Field Communications). Michael worked with him to extend NFC acceptance across other Deutsche Bahn departments, as well as Germany-wide, including taking part in meetings with partners and vendors. Michael also designed the system architecture for new form factors of Touch&Travel, as well as the look of the smartphone interface. Michael also prototyped (mockups) and developed (PHP, MySQL, HTML, JS/AJAX) a concept for pulling data together from different data "silos" within the Bahn to give consumers quick access to data to make their trip easier.
In the summer of 2011, Michael worked at NextJump in product development. NextJump provides corporate perks portals to much of the Fortune 500.
Michael graduated from Haverford High School with a 4.7 out of 4.0 GPA. In later years he was a regular anchor of H-Vision, the school’s morning news program. Michael supports education for all, through his website, ThePlaz.com, where he has several thousands sheets of knowledge, freely available to all with a connection to the internet. Michael's passion for knowledge enables him to excel in school. Among Michael's peers, he has earned a reputation for hard work. In his freshman year, the yearbook staff chose Michael to be the section cover page of the "Academics" section title page.
Michael developed several websites and web projects while in high school. The most notable among them was GridView. GridView was an application for Facebook which let users display of their friends' profile photos on their own Facebook profile. Michael got the idea for GridView on the last day of 10th Grade, "What does the name Facebook mean? There is no place to see everyone's face." Michael used his newfound free time to experiment with the newly announced Facebook platform. Very quickly the application became popular, with the number of users snowballing. Michael attributed GridView's success to Facebook's Newsfeed which spread word about the application, as well as its visibility on user's profiles. "I think the cleanness of the design attracted users to it. I tried to keep it clean and usable, without all of the ads everywhere."
Michael attracted some light angel funding for the project and a minority partner who brought years of experience in the industry. Together they started building up GridView. Michael designed a "rearrange" flash applet for GridView and then put it out for bid. For the month as the flash application was being developed, Michael got up at 5AM every day before school to manage the overseas development team building the project. Michael also hired and managed an independent domestic developer.
GridView grew to over 1,300,000 users. Unfortunately in 2008, Facebook changed the layout of the profile and the usage of GridView fell precipitously. GridView was essentially profile artwork - when Facebook changed the profile the art work become hidden. We tried twice to build a second act, when we acquired my business partner's old firm ForumsPlace and building a petitions platform 4Change. Unfortunately I did not have the time to dedicate to the projects and they never got any traction. I think the timing of the economy had a lot to do with it, GridView's revenue was mostly from other app developers waving VC cash advertising their applications. However the Facebook bubble burst and the entire economic environment became a lot more challenging. Still, I personally made a profit from the venture, and I gained far more experience than other experiences high schoolers.
Michael also produced Tecker 911, a video podcast to help people with basic technological concepts. The show was shot in Michael's house by a team of his friends. Michael led the team, diving out the duties to write, host, shoot, and edit the episodes. The shows were also shown on the local public access cable TV station. 100 episodes were ultimately produced over the 3 years. One of the former participants went on to major in new media production.
Michael developed an open-source application. SeniorQuoter, a free, open-source PHP application allows high school yearbooks to collect senior quotes. Michael wanted to start an open-source project to give back to the community. In 11th Grade, Michael led a 5 person group study at Haverford High School where the group, under Michael's supervision, learned PHP and MySQL and built version 2 of SeniorQuoter. A few yearbooks have adopted SeniorQuoter, but Michael was most proud of the team work which brought version 2 together and the UI/design Michael designed and implemented.
One project which was less successful was Dictionary Robot. Dictionary Robot's goal was to make it easy for students to do vocabulary lists. Michael tried to implement the feel of AJAX applications sliding around, but he was never able to get the front end or the back end to work.
Over the summer of 2009, Michael designed a new skin for my website "Nuvola." Michael first fell in love with the Nuvola icon set in 2006 and he sketched a first design for the site then. "It was a lot of work to upgrade the look of MediaWiki because years of subtitle accumulated modifications in MediaWiki make the code hard to decipher. It also required a lot of CSS trickery to get it to work in all of the major browsers." Michael also implemented a lot of the Yahoo! Speed optimization tricks into the site - such as image sprites - significantly improving page load. In addition, Michael implemented server-side caching with Memcached. Since then I have also made a few more extensions to MediaWiki.
In middle school and early high school Michael made a lot of programs for the TI-83+ graphing calculator. This was Michael's first exposure to programming. "Looking back the syntax was very basic - but I could build really simple program while sitting in the car."
Michael posts a great deal of what he does to his website. Furthermore, much of his work is freely available under the Creative Commons license. For example, over 50,000 of his photos are online and licensed under the Creative Commons license. Michael is also the technology manager for the publications department.
In middle school and early high school Michael was involved in both acting and behind the scenes in both school and professional theater. He was in three shows while he was at Haverford Middle School, stage managed a fourth, and was a casting consultant for a fifth. Through the People’s Light and Theater Company’s youth school, he has performed at the National Constitution Center in downtown Philadelphia. Michael also volunteered at People's Light in the lighting department.
- H-Vision (sound and anchor)
- Robotics Club
- volunteer in People's Light lighting department
- develop Tecker
- run ThePlaz.com
- Soundtracks Mostly
- Some Pop
- Some classical (while working)
Favorite TV Shows
(Don't get to watch too many movies)
... and more
Accounts on other sites
- wp:User:Michael180 on Wikipedia (and some other wikimedia sites)
- ThePlaz on Digg!
- michael180 on 43 Things
- michael180 on43 Places
- theplaz on Flickr
- theplaz on Bookmooch
- theplaz on YouTube
- GPSed GPS Tracks
- I’m goal driven – I’m always making and processing through to-do lists
- I like to plan ahead and be systematic http://wiki.theplaz.com/Working_out_a_System
- I’m reliable and expect others to be the same – nothing bothers me more than people who schedule and then skip or cancel meetings last minute
- In my experience this is more structured than most start-ups
- I’m a INTJ who is becoming more ENTJ
- I like constant change and challenge
- That could be technical, but does not have to be.
- I want to learn and grow
- I like working long hours - that's more fun than movies, video games, going to the bar
- I don’t drink regularly (1-2x a month)
My ThePlaz.com Userboxes
- See also my wikipedia user boxes.