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Introducing Tim Brookins

Introducing Tim Brookins

Tim Brookins is a doer. You can see it when you talk to him, he's always watching how things work and thinking of better ways.

The quintessential engineer, but with a bit of mischief and maybe a little too much caffeine.

He graduated from NDSU in 1987 and again in 1990 with a master's, both in electrical engineering, and sort of bumbled into a job at what would become the worldwide company Microsoft. (He has said that when he took the job at what was then Great Plains Software in 1990, he thought it sounded boring but better than McDonald's.) He is now one of the most senior employees in the company, valued for his natural curiosity and drive.

Brookins also enjoys Bison football, traveling to away games and chatting at tailgating. Naturally when he noticed that other fans were interested in connecting during those activities he came up with an app for that, aptly named Bison Tracker.

The app allows NDSU fans to check in at all games, and has a GPS locator feature so you can find your pals at tailgating or in their seats in any stadium the Bison are playing. Brookins worked with a group of NDSU computer science seniors to get some of the project rolling, and the Windows and Apple versions were released at the beginning of the season. He worked like crazy to get the Android version released a little deeper into the season. You can check it out at

What did you want to be when you were a little kid?
An astronaut.

What was your coolest Halloween costume?

Did you fight with your siblings?
My sister was four years younger. She frightened me, so I kept my distance.

Were you always such a positive, proactive kind of guy?
I used to be a mean person, with low tolerance for people who didn't share my views. I've made it a lifelong goal to do a 180.

Do your siblings and parents understand what you do for a living?
My dad routinely tells people that I run Microsoft. So, no, they do not understand my humble role.

Do your wife and kids?
Yes, surprisingly, my kids probably have a better grasp at what I do than my parents!

Do your wife and kids think you work too much?
I drive my wife crazy when I get in her hair. She dreads the day I retire!

How do you describe your creative process?
Understand the problem. I believe there is no absolute truth. Everyone sees the problem to be solved in their own uniquely distorted way, including myself. If the problem was simple, someone else would have already solved it. I will invariably spend far more time thinking about the problem than your average person. I actively consider that my view is distorted and try to include the viewpoints of others to improve my understanding.

When I switch to working on the solution, no one will outwork me. Edison comes to mind:
"Genius: one percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration." Nothing is easy.

What do you do to get out of a creative block?
It's a sign that I haven't fully understood the problem.

What's the best advice someone's given you?
Life is imperfect. Deal with it. You can't control other people's actions... you can only control how you react.

And what's the best advice you've offered?
Make your choices and live with the consequences. Every choice has pros and cons. Do your best to pick the best option and own the cons. Owning the downsides of their choices is the true test of an ethical person.

What do you do to relax?
I do projects like Bison Tracker! And I love to go to Las Vegas! The best is when I can do both at once! (Write code by the pool).

Most interesting travel experience?
Eating lamb testicles in Moscow. Not quite a travel experience, but we did the blow up doll at graduation.

Arrogance. I am working to overcome it.

I know that I am flawed and work every day to improve myself. I can wiggle my ears.

Student Focused. Land Grant. Research University.