Adaptability: George Sworo’s Journey From Antennas to Software

In George Sworo’s village in South Sudan, there was no standard digital system for medical records. Instead, everyone carried their records around in notebooks. These notebooks were often destroyed in bad weather or had information filled out incorrectly, forcing patients to start over and doctors to resort to guesswork—which could result in life-threatening consequences. And though he had never even touched a computer before high school, this concerning issue motivated George to research a solution and kickstarted his journey into the world of software.

“I saw this problem and thought, ‘Why can’t we just develop a simple electronic medical record system?’” says George. “Many of these systems are already standard in the U.S., so I decided to give it a shot.”

At the time, most of George’s experience was strictly in hardware, but he spent hours teaching himself the ins and outs of software development. When he began learning about software, he really saw the bigger picture of how the two design systems could work together to create something great. Determined, he kept at it and eventually created a successful prototype that could serve as a digital database for his South Sudanese village. It was a feat that altered his perspective forever.

“I felt like my upbringing put me at a disadvantage toward becoming a software engineer,” says George, “but, in fact, it challenged me to think about how software could serve a larger purpose.”

For much of his early career, George put his expertise to use building adaptive antennas, focusing on the design, algorithms, and implementation that improve antenna performance. However, he determined that he needed to expand his skills in software to keep pace with where the industry was headed.

“I had to aggressively shift my career a little bit,” he says, “so I could merge that wireless world with software. Because I noticed there were more and more technology companies that required expertise in both areas.”

George quickly pivoted, using his free time to teach himself software development. It was during this period that he began building the software for his digital medical record database.

“At that point, I just started falling in love with software and the fact that I was able to play with the best of both worlds. When I got my role at Intel working with wireless modems, it was the perfect opportunity, because I still get to do telecommunications and wireless while also getting my hands dirty in software.”

Today, as a software engineer at Intel, he’s found a niche in the Chrome OS Group, building operating systems. And for George, the future couldn’t be brighter. He sees endless possibilities of what he can achieve through software development—particularly around AI and machine learning. He’s excited to see how the technologies he’s working on now will help shape tomorrow. Especially when it comes to accessibility for other developers.

“I love the fact that most of my work is open source,” says George. “The possibilities are open to everybody now. It’s no longer restricted to a privileged few. If you’re an open-minded person and willing to learn, you can be part of something big.”

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