Copilot Trip Winner
About Luis Millan
Topcoder Copilot and TCO Ultimate Junkie. Passionate about technology and innovative ideas. Luis considers himself a wandering hybrid between the UX design and coding domains. He is known for his infamous jokes, poor football skills, love for food, and peppy spirit towards the Topcoder community.
What is the most interesting project you copiloted at Topcoder and why?
During all these years, there have been many projects that caught my attention and taught me something meaningful. I have to admit, recently there was one remarkable challenge that was a mix of ingredients: pressure, high expectations, novelty, and frugality. Microsoft was experimenting with a new way to create decks applying the design process to the creative side of the workflow, with the added steroids of the gig economy integrating the execution portion of the deck. I remember when the copilot chief came to me with the proposition, initially, I had to reject it. I wasn’t living in conditions well enough to take such responsibility (constant power blackouts, without access to an internet connection for weeks). Fortunately, the team found a way to make it work even with these frugal conditions. This was one of the most meaningful experiences I’ve ever had as a copilot.
What is your most memorable Topcoder challenge and why?
Ever since a Google search consolidated as the place to go to acquire knowledge, we think we know how to do research. For me, this paradigm was changed when I competed in a series of NASA challenges. The challenge was to create an iPad application for astronauts to manage their intake log. It challenged me to learn new technologies in a short amount of time and to conduct proper research on the novelty features that this app required. In the end, this series of challenges was the reason why I finally bought a Mac, started coding in Swift, and it paved the way for me to become a strong design/developer hybrid since I had to research, code, and test before submitting. Overall, it was a very enriching experience.
Is Topcoder your full time job and if so, why does it work for you?
Topcoder has been my only active source of income for the last 10 years, if I recall correctly. It gives me two priceless gifts that I value deeply: personal time management and geographical freedom.
What do you do when not working?
My first option would be to spend time with friends in the mountains, the beach, or learning something new. If I’m in a civilized city, that would be doing CrossFit, playing football, and eating lots of food.
Where do you work? Tell us about your space(s).
I’ve been working remotely for a long period. Lately, I avoid working from my residence at any given moment. I go to calm places such as libraries or coworking spaces.
If you could give your past self one piece of advice, what would it be?
Choose time over money.
What kind of music do you listen to while working on your solutions?
It depends on the type of work that I need to perform. If the work requires me to be focused to understand complex requirements, I would play classic music or jazz. If I need a steady focus to stay concentrated for a long time (e.g. coding), I would repeat a single album for hours, normally from MUSE, Pink Floyd, or Led Zeppelin.
What is the dream project you want to build, design, or solve for?
I have this crazy dream of being part of an expedition to colonize another planet. Hopefully, run some Topcoder challenges from there.
What’s the best tip or piece of advice you can share with other members at Topcoder?
Enjoy the experience, appreciate the new little things you learn from each experience. Whether it’s a loss or a win, there’s always something good to learn.
What does Topcoder mean to you?
It makes sense to say that all of us at Topcoder share a passion for design, problem solving, and technology. Therefore, Topcoder is the glue that keeps us together. So I’d have to say, Topcoder represents the most solid bridge ever built to connect passion and people.
What are you most excited about for this year’s TCO Finals?
Seeing old and new faces on stage. Besides that, it seems I’m having my own TV Show, or something like that lol.
Do you strive to be at TCO every year and if so, why does it matter to you?
Always! It’s like an annual family reunion where you get to hang out, meet people, and enjoy the thrilling nerve-racking competitions.
What was your secret to getting a ticket for the TCO finals more than once?
Work smart, play hard.