Episode 2: Alex Hansen, Technical Team Lead
For the second episode of our "Meet the team behind Fuel" series, we are thrilled to hear from Alex Hansen, the original Sway compiler developer.
What is your name and profession?
Alex Hansen; Compiler Team Lead.
Tell us about your background?
I’ve been writing software for about 10 years. I’m from Texas, and I first worked as a musician and an ice hockey referee before getting a degree in and working in computer science. I briefly lived in Taiwan where I went to a Chinese language immersion school.
I’ve always had a passion for compilers and compiler development. Ever since I first started programming, I started building small compilers as side projects. Eventually, I had enough experience from doing that to begin work on the Sway compiler.
How did you get into the blockchain industry, and what excites you the most about it?
My role mostly relies on compiler and technical leadership experience. This role is what brought me into the blockchain industry. What excites me about blockchain is not necessarily the techniques themselves, but the position in the world that the industry occupies. We are on the bleeding edge; a new frontier of technology. Nothing is guaranteed, and we must work to make anything and everything possible. Very little is entrenched.
How did you discover Fuel?
I wrote the original Sway compiler myself before any other contributors had been brought on.
Could you tell us what a Fueling day looks like?
For me – I generally spend most of the day reviewing open PRs, cross-checking the language against the spec, ensuring the Sway language roadmap aligns with our organizational roadmap, managing contributors, specifying GitHub issues, and if all of that is done, I can finally get some coding in. It has been a really fun transition from writing the entire compiler solo to overseeing a team of people continuing its development.
What are you currently working on?
I currently work on the Sway compiler. We currently are working hard on compiler optimizations, type system coherency, and performance improvements.
Tell us about your hobbies and interests.
Besides technical hobbies, I’m a huge fan of music. As a musician, I love listening to stuff that pushes the boundaries of its time. Some musicians I currently follow are Jacob Collier, Sungazer, Thrailkill, Animals as Leaders, Owane, Sevish, and Plini.
In addition, I’m a big fan of ice hockey. I’ve played hockey since I was 6 years old, and my first job as a teenager was as an ice hockey referee. I’m just now getting into golf, as well. Great way to enjoy the beautiful Seattle summers!
I’m also a hobbyist watch restorer, over COVID I got into buying old, beat-up mechanical watches and restoring them to working condition.
Do you have a mentor or someone that inspires you?
I’m lucky enough to have had a great series of mentors and inspirations in my career. My father is a programmer, and as a kid, he inspired me to think programming and computer science are cool. From there, I had a great mentor at USAA named Steve. He taught me the real nitty-gritty details of production software engineering at a large enterprise. In my current era, I have a few personal mentors outside of Fuel who show me how much I don’t know. I don’t know how to summarize their mentorship yet, as it is ongoing. Ask me in a few years!
Working on compilers is my passion and my joy. I’m excited to build a compiler, and I’m really grateful that Fuel gave me the opportunity to do it on a large scale.
What’s your motto?
Be kind to everybody you meet along the way.