Mike Folk was project lead for the HDF group at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) from 1988 until 2006, when he co-founded The HDF Group and served as CEO until retiring in 2016. He remains a Member of the Board of Directors.
His tenure at NCSA and with The HDF Group provided Mike with the opportunity to work with a broad range of organizations and people in government, academia and the private sector to apply and evolve HDF in ways that uniquely address some of our greatest data challenges.
Mike’s first programming job was in 1961, as a college sophomore. His task was to create a digital map of the US to monitor fire-spread from a nuclear attack. He scoped the work to take three weeks, and completed it 9 months later. Happily, the program was never needed.
Mike taught high school math in the U.S. and in Africa during the late 60s and early 70s, then he taught computer science at the university level for 18 years. His interest in data management began when he was asked to teach a course on file structures. This led him and a colleague to write the book File Structures, a Conceptual Toolkit, which prepared him well to take over the HDF project at NCSA in 1988. The principles from that book have guided much of the evolution of HDF.
Mike received his undergraduate degree from the University of North Carolina, a Masters from the University of Chicago, and a Ph.D. in Computer Science from Syracuse University.
In his spare time, Mike enjoys his eight grandchildren and backpacking in the wild.