Meet the Engineer: Ufuk Celebi

In this section of our “Meet the Engineer” series, I’d like to introduce my data Artisans colleague Ufuk Celebi. Ufuk is one of the co-founders of the team and one of the very few Berliners in the company (yes, born and raised in Berlin :-)). He is an Apache Flink committer from the very early days of the project with numerous contributions and has recently moved to the data Artisans Platform team to build our commercial product offering! I hope you enjoy learning more about him in the following paragraphs.

What do you work on at data Artisans?
I have been with data Artisans from the very beginning and my role has changed significantly over the past years. Currently, I work on the Application Manager component of data Artisans Platform. In a nutshell, Application Manager aims to provide the best possible experience for deploying and managing Flink applications on container infrastructures such as Kubernetes. Previously, I worked full-time on Apache Flink. As one of the early committers, I had the chance to work on many different parts of the Flink stack, from the lower layers of the network stack to the user-facing web interface.

What do you enjoy about your job?
I love the team at data Artisans. I have met many smart and fun people here and learned a lot from them. Also, working on a large open source project such as Apache Flink is very rewarding. You get the feeling that your contributions and ultimately your code has wide adoption and solves the problems of many software engineers around the world. There are many interesting technical challenges and a large and diverse community of contributors with many different backgrounds. Currently, I find the intersection of open source Flink and data Artisans' commercial offerings very interesting. Building data Artisans Platform requires a deep understanding of both Flink as well as how the needs of our customers and how they are going to use the platform.

Are you a contributor or committer to any Apache projects? If so, which ones?
I am a PMC member of Apache Flink since the incubation phase of the project. I was lucky enough to work on the research project that led to Apache Flink during my time at university. I had a unique experience of seeing Apache Flink going from the incubation phase to becoming a top-level project in the Apache Software Foundation as well as all being part of the team that contributes to the ever-growing adoption of Apache Flink in many enterprises.  

What do you like about Apache Flink?
It's super cool to see how Flink is pushing the envelope for open source stream processing since the early days. I'm constantly impressed by the project: the number of active contributors, the companies using it, and the number of features Flink provides. The sheer variety of use cases from simple analytics to business-critical applications in both small environments as well as large-scale installations is impressive and showcases how versatile and expressive the technology is.

What is your advice for someone who is interested in participating in an open source project for the first time?
I think that many people don't realize that contributions to open source projects are typically not limited to code. In the case of Flink, there are many questions on the mailing lists that can be answered. I find this to be a very helpful and a starting point to get into contributing. Also, reporting bugs or fixing the documentation is typically very much appreciated.
For code contributions, I think the best way to start is to check out the contribution guidelines in order to understand what is expected of contributions. The bigger question for first-time contributions is usually what to work on. Here, I would suggest to start with smaller stories and make sure that there is consensus to address the respective ticket (for instance by pinging other contributors or committers that are more familiar with the code base).

How did you get into programming?
We always had computers at home and I was fascinated by the possibilities that gave you (yes, even in the early days where I mostly used them for gaming). I was also keen to explore what is possible with computers and the web so when the internet became a thing I started creating websites to explore what was possible. That was a turning point for me and made me realize how much I liked programming and computer science. I started blogging and explored different programming languages such as PHP, C, Java, and others.
Later I went to university and studied computer science at Free University, Technical University Berlin, and ETH Zurich. During my studies at TU Berlin, I attended a course on the implementation of database systems and that was what got me into the data processing space. I quickly realized that implementing such systems provides a perfect combination of theoretical and practical concerns.

What’s your favorite philosopher and why?
Picking a favorite philosopher is probably as hard as picking a favorite movie. There are so many interesting ones! So I’ll just try to stick to one of my favorite schools of philosophy, the Stoics. They were one of the earliest to appreciate the fact that our environment is hard to predict and even harder to control. This rather simple insight led them to create a philosophy of life that has a lot of practical application and that focuses on our responses to external events rather than on the external events themselves. I find this a very helpful insight in my daily life. I'm doing a pretty bad job of summarizing it, but I can recommend the book *The Daily Stoic* by Ryan Holiday if you are interested in more about this.

Where are you from? Tell us something about where you grew up or some memories from childhood.
I am one of the very few people in our office that I was born and raised in Berlin. The city has changed significantly over the years to become a melting pot and I am very happy to see that a diverse set of people is moving in town and making the city more international. I’ve always remembered enjoying Berlin’s openness and diversity. It’s a place that has so much to offer and can be tailored to one's needs and preferences. Whether it’s concerts, techno music, art galleries, parks, hikes, or sports Berlin has something for you.

You can follow Ufuk on Twitter @iamuce, Github, and LinkedIn

We’re hiring! Check out the data Artisans careers page to learn about open positions. We have roles based in our Berlin office as well as in the U.S.


Tags: Meet The Engineer