Take 5 with Michael Plott

By FORSCOM Public AffairsApril 11, 2024

(Series 1, Post 1)

Welcome to the very first edition of Take 5, and I’m really glad you’re reading this because it means you were actually paying attention to the earlier promotion we did for the blog! Or you’re honoring your promise to read it after I slipped you a couple Benjamins. Either way, good on you, and welcome to Take 5!

(Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

I’m Mikie P, and now that you are here, let’s jump in and get started in on the conversation I recently had with FORSCOM Civilian employee, Michael Plott. Michael is the Team Chief for Data Visualization. That’s a fancy title which basically means he’s boss of a small group that specializes in I-T; (that’s Information Technology for those of you a little rusty with acronyms.)

Anyway, I-T is something that’s been around for a while now, but there was actually a time in history when I-T jobs really didn’t exist as they do today because computers weren’t really a mainstream thing. Sure, computers have been around since the 1940’s in some form or fashion, but they’ve come a long way from what they used to be. Remember that movie “The Imitation Game,” based on a true story where a group of brilliant young mathematicians headed by Alan Turing, came together at Bletchley Park in Britian during WWII, and used math and a Turing-created machine to create a way to crack the German Enigma codes? Yup. That was a computer. Rudimentary, but a computer, nonetheless.

The Internet though, or, as we used to call it, the World Wide Web, only came into existence in April of 1993. So, in order for any information on the Web to even get to the masses, you had to have really smart people who knew how to write code.

“I got a 4-year college degree in 2002 from Southern Polytechnic State University in Georgia,” said Plott. “When I first started writing code, I’d draw a picture--coordinates on the screen with color codes, and then an image would appear on the screen, and I’d watch my work come to life,” he said. “I really enjoyed writing code.”

Plott even worked for a spell at the now defunct Circuit City, selling software services. “That other place had geeks, but at Circuit City we had the “IQ Crew,”” said Plott, who, sadly admitted that he wasn’t good enough to be a geek. I get you, Michael. It’s like being a grade school kickball legend (in your own mind) and getting picked last. (That may or may not be a true Mikie P story.)

Okay, back to coding. Let me try and simplify it for you. It’s a process of transforming ideas and instructions into language a computer can understand using binary machine code (think zeroes and ones,) and it’s how humans talk to computers. It’s language that creates clear channels of communication between man and machine, and it is incredibly necessary for Plott and the people who work with and for him because they have a big job.

“My team provides the I-T infrastructure necessary to run FORSCOM mission application software. That software helps FORSCOM track, transport, and deploy Soldiers and equipment,” Plott said. “It’s hard to explain exactly what we do because we also have security clearances and can’t tell you everything, but, in a nutshell, we use software, technology, and automation to help the Army run more efficiently and with less human error,” said Plott, “and we don’t write code any more due to funding restrictions, but, if necessary, we could,” he said.

Plott’s current position with FORSCOM was a somewhat gradual employment progression. After he ditched Circuit City, he worked as a seasonal employee with the IRS and then as a government contractor. He’s proof you can work as a civilian in the civilian sector and then easily make the cross over to becoming a federal employee if you’ve got the right skills and, preferably, no prison record.

“It’s fun to serve your country and try and help the Army,” said Plott. “So, if you like working with technology, it’s easy to see the benefit you can provide because the best thing about my job is being able to use my knowledge and skills in software and apply that software to whatever the Army needs,” he said.

Plotts final thoughts during our conversation? “Embrace all the challenges you’re given in your career and keep learning all you can,” he said. That’s pretty solid advice from someone who had the courage to admit he wasn’t good enough to be a geek, but turned-out to be exactly what the FORSCOM Data Visualization team needed.

Thank you for your service to FORSCOM Michael, and to any recent college grads out there or anyone looking to make a mid-life career change, please consider federal service with U.S. Army Forces Command. For more information about available federal jobs in I-T, please go to USAJOBS - Search and type in Information Technology.

To learn more about U.S. Army Forces Command, check out our FORSCOM LinkedIn page at https://www.linkedin.com/company/us-army-forces-command-forscom/

Join me again next month for another conversation blog with a FORSCOM team member who loves what they do and encourages you to join the family. Till then, take care, and don’t forget to “Take 5.”