An unexpected Twitter user lives in an underwater tank at the Tennessee Aquarium thanks in part to Mack Lunn, associate director of Tech’s iCUBE program.
The electric eel, aptly named Miguel Wattson, posts on the app when he emits significant voltage.
Lunn, who has helped direct iCUBE since 2018, believes such projects are integral to his vision for the program; they give students an opportunity for hands-on experience with technology and client relations and allow students to contribute to innovation.
Lunn said, “A lot of the students are really brilliant students, and they don’t need much in the way of guidance, but they don’t have a lot of experience. So, as soon as I give them a little experience, their creativity and their passion flows, and I just try not to inhibit that.”
Lunn’s career in programming began long before he became iCUBE’s director, when he started working for Myspace in 2001. Initially, he was involved with programming the front page of the site, and later, he designed custom profiles for stars like Justin Timberlake and Black Eyed Peas.
“I just really liked the idea of being creative with programming, and I got pretty down the rabbit hole with programming after that, so I came to Tennessee Tech, went into computer science, ended up graduating with a web development major,” he recalled.
As an undergraduate student, Lunn worked closely with Kevin Liska in the College of Business, helping him develop apps. Liska felt Lunn was invaluable, so much so he paid for Lunn’s master’s education on the condition he stayed and worked as Liska’s graduate assistant. Ultimately, this was Lunn’s path to his current position.
Lunn’s focus with iCUBE is ensuring his students are moving forward, as he expressed time management is the program’s biggest challenge. He said, “My number one goal is to make sure that everybody else is working hard, because they can accomplish a whole lot more collectively than anyone could accomplish individually.”
Across Lunn’s work, he has a particular affection for the creativity it allows him and his students. He explained this as a fascination with using technology to achieve creative and artistic goals.
“I’ve had probably half a dozen to a dozen jobs before now, and all of them employ, ‘What can I use that computer to achieve our goals with and make things easier and cut out the work?’”
Lunn’s contributions have allowed students to find employment, express themselves and the needs of clients, and even help an electric eel tweet.