I grew up in Claremont, NC where I began using computers at the age of 5 thanks to my Father who exposed me to both DOS and the Internet before I even started middle school (1999)! Around this time is when I started getting into computer hardware and hardware modifications. I have always enjoyed soldering and creating/repairing electronics, again thanks to my Father. There were many modifications/upgrades my Father and I did over the years before college. A few examples include motherboard voltage mods, GPU voltage mods, sound card mods, delidding CPUs, etc.
One of my other passions as I approached my first year in high school was (American) football. During my Senior season I was voted All Conference as an outside linebacker and Defensive Player of the Year (2004). I also set the 2nd highest power rating (weight lifting score) in 30 years (to this day)! Power Rating is calculated by taking your lifting maxes and dividing by your body weight: ((bench + squat + power clean + jerk press ) / (body weight)). Mine calculated out to 8.03! I was also able to get into the sought after “Red Club”. The Red Club requires a 400lb squat, 300 lb bench, 275 lb clean, 275 lb jerk and 3.0+ GPA; you had to get 4 of the 5 to get in.
The type of hit shown above will get you thrown out of the game these days. When I played (Senior year was 2004) the only thing you couldn’t do was spear someone (jumping off your feet with head first contact). If you didn’t obviously lead with your head, you rarely got called for anything back then. I did this because I had 2 shoulder surgeries (both sides) and didn’t trust my shoulders. If you watch the hit closely in slow-motion, I get the initial helmet hit to take him off balance and then I give him an arm bar to put him all the way on the ground.
For the record, that tailback played D1 college football the next season. It was this type of size disadvantage that set me up for failure from the start. You can’t fight physics… Little did I know at age 16 to 18 that this would do permanent damage to my spine. I have been living with chronic neck pain for 11 years now, the last 5 years without being on any opiates, ever. I feel like I need to tell people, my pain went down when I came off of opiate pain meds. Those pills do not fix anything and I would rather our doctors point you towards natural alternatives.
(Or else, you might get bone spurs/osteophyte formations on your spine like me!)
By the time I was entering college I had nearly 10 years of experience building/fixing/modifying computers + computer hardware and this opened the door for me to the IT field. My first IT position was with the NC Department of Waste Management. Here I would learn more about troubleshooting and repairs than all my previous years with PC hardware combined. By my second year I was promoted to lead hardware tech and things were looking bright.
Life happened during my 3rd year with the NCDWM and I had to leave Raleigh to deal with medical issues, however this would lead to me working for Lowe’s HQ in Wilkesboro, NC. Here I would be a part of the team responsible for an international hardware upgrade for every Lowe’s store, literally all of them (Evergreen was the name of the project). Each night we would take entire stores offline to upgrade them to IBM Blade servers and replace every point of interaction for employees in the store. On average each team member had 5 stores down per night which was roughly 300 pieces of hardware. This exposed me to a tremendous amount of information on networks and network administration. I also gained valuable insight into fiber optics and how to troubleshoot fiber optics, along with your standard CAT5/CAT6.
I was with Lowe’s HQ for about a year and the project ended because we had successfully upgraded every store across the globe. This was when I made the toughest decision of my life, return to school and finish the last 2.5 years of my Engineering degree, or use my experience to move up the ladder in IT. I decided I wanted a deeper understanding of the things I was using every day and I left a competitive job field for my Engineering degree.
Things with regard to my return to college changed slightly and I will now be moving to one of a handful of colleges in the area with real Audio Tech or Audio Engineering programs (like Clemson & UNC-Charlotte). I learned that the knowledge I had from over a decade of practical troubleshooting did little to help me in any EE college courses. For example, the 2nd (and final) general circuits class at NC State does not involve any soldering. From what the seniors told me, EE graduates these days never have to solder at NCSU! I loved that college, but in the end nobody even noticed my departure (except for a few friends).
After I left NCSU I knew I wanted to do something that I could present to colleges/companies as an example of my abilities. From electronics troubleshooting & soldering, to working with real world companies. I do everything for this site including writing, editing, photographing and my ability to manage large workflows. I rely on ingenuity to get me by when items break or just stop working all together. The main skill needed for this type of repair is soldering. Soldering is in my opinion, one of the most important skills an Electrical Tech grad/student can learn. Learning is easy, mastering all the aspects of soldering, including surface mount devices (SMD), is not.
The lack of soldering in Electrical Engineering at NC State was sad and shocking to me. I knew my first time at State in 2007 you DID have to solder in the first circuits class, it’s no longer like that. An EE graduate who can’t solder is like a race car driver who can’t change their own tires when needed. Once I finished thinking about how to showcase these skills, Hallman Labs was born. I slowly built the website up after I left college. Now I average 4-5 times the amount of traffic as before. Any companies looking for a skilled hardware technician and is willing to give a permanent hire with benefits, please use the contact me tab!
Thanks for reading my bio.
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