Three Questions with Shawn Brown

Three questions with a new staff member!  

Shawn comes to us from Oak Ridge National Laboratory where he most recently held the role of a Senior Research Network Engineer. One of his major research projects was to develop and implement a Precision Timing Protocol (PTP) timing network, to keep data from the nation’s power grid substations synchronized and improve security by removing the dependency on GPS timing signals. Another fun project, for the United States Forestry Service involved developing low-cost (sub $100) durable, yet “disposable” fixed-wing drones, able to detect airborne asbestos fibers released during wildfires. 

When did you first become interested in networking and what brought you to ESnet?

My first introduction to networking occurred while enlisted in the US Army. I will forever remember learning subnetting while attending a voluntary class on a rather hot summer Saturday morning held inside of a windowless trailer, without air conditioning, located in the Southern AZ desert. From that point on, I was hooked.

The desire to work with some of the brightest minds on one of the fastest networks around brought me to ESnet. As a network engineer working at another DOE Lab, I had a few chances to work with ESnet engineers as well as being a customer of ESnet. Over the years, I was exposed to the team, their wonderful attitudes, and their first-class customer service. Transitioning to ESnet feels like a natural fit. 

What is the most exciting thing going on right now? 

Software Defined Networking and 400 Gbps transport speeds are perhaps two of the most exciting things in networking right now, and ESnet is in the middle of both of those. PTP synchronization providing nanosecond timestamping and accuracy is also something that I find exciting. Equally exciting was working on Quantum Key Distribution over WAN networks.

What book would you recommend?

For me, it is a toss-up between “The River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt’s Darkest Journey” by Candice Millard or the “One Second After” trilogy by William R. Forstchen.