About Me

petrkoutPetr Kout

I am a physics educated software and hardware engineer. I obtained my BS degree in physics from Columbia University, where I also worked as an experimental physics researcher for several years. I was born and raised in the Czech Republic.

I am also an entrepreneur who has been involved in a few startup projects over the years and built several dynamic, interactive websites.

I am very passionate about physical sciences and engineering, and I am always on a lookout for exciting high-impact projects to work on.

Below I present some of the projects I worked on throughout my career in reverse chronological order.

If you’d like to get in touch with me, please, use the contact form.

Technologies I have varying degrees of experience with: PHP5, Symfony2, MATLAB, Python, Python GUI via Qt4, Django, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, jQuery, MySQL, Postgresql, OpenCV, Vuforia augmented reality, Unity3D, C/C++, Delphi, Java, Linux, Windows, data analysis, electronics, physics

2011-2015: Researcher in Experimental Biophysics and Astrophysics

I worked with Prof. Szabolcs Marka in the physics department at Columbia University on research in the area of experimental biophysics.

  • Developed a cutting edge technology for studying locomotion of vertebrates utilizing advanced fully custom robotics designed and built in our labs.
  • Ensured quality of the robotics control software written in Python by writing an entire suite of hardware/software in a loop tests developed simultaneously with the hardware/software system.
  • Wrote an optical real-time image analysis software in C++ on top of OpenCV along with unit tests.
  • Performed statistical analysis of the data collected from our scientific instruments.
  • Wrote an augmented reality smartphone app that displayed a 3D model of an African village on a 5×7 feet mat. The simulation included high quality houses, trees, people, and flying mosquitoes. The purpose of the project was to convincingly demonstrate the malaria prevention technology we were developing in our labs. The app was developed using Unity3D and Vuforia SDK.
  • Converted a 4000 line gravitational wave detector (LIGO) data analysis software from MATLAB to Python, optimized inefficient algorithms, and added a set of new features, including automatic connectivity to the LIGO internal data distribution system, data extraction and parsing, and automatic analysis triggering when a new trigger event arrives.
  • Frequently designed parts for laser cutting and 3D printing using AutoCAD.
  • Built and maintained the group website at http://markalab.org.
  • Served as the system administrator of our Linux Debian computer network.
  • Involved technologies: Python(+matplotlib, pylab, scipy, pyqt4), OpenCV, C++, PointGrey FlyCapture2 SDK, Linux OS administration and BASH scripting, MATLAB, PHP, Symfony2, WordPress.

 

  • Test of optical tracking system
  • Real time encoding tracking information into a QR code
  • Optical tracking in progress
  • Optical tracking in progress
    Optical tracking in progress
  • LIGO timing system
  • LIGO timing system
  • Optically tracking camera system
  • Optically tracking two-dimensionally moving platform

2014-2015: Designing and Building Autonomous Object Following Drone

As a project with a potential to turn into a startup company, I work on developing a quadcopter drone that has the ability to stereoscopically see, detect, and follow objects. The drone is controlled via a software running on a laptop computer connected to the drone over 802.11 connection. The receiver on the drone is a Raspberry Pi with a wifi dongle. In fact, there are two Raspberry Pi’s onboard, each having a camera attached to it, processing the video frames and running basic object recognition at about 10 frames per second.

  • Quadcopter frame and flight controller
  • Quadcopter frame
  • Receiver and flight controller
  • Full copter with two Raspbery Pi's for processing

2015: Built a 3D Space Simulator Vesmeer.com

I built an in-browser 3D space simulator Vesmeer.com. Currently, the software simulates the solar system with all its major bodies. All distances and sizes are in proportion. All positions are correct to the current date. This project is in early stages and evolving. Used technologies: HTML, CSS, JavaScript, jQuery, Require.js, THREE.js.

splash

2015: Building PlotPipe.com

PlotPipe.com is a platform for tracking anything that evolves over time and displaying the data in easy to understand charts. These data include website traffic load, scientific instrument data output, jogging distance per day, or the number of facebook likes per day. The platform will also allow embedding of plots into other sites and sharing plots among multiple people. The used technologies include: Python, Django, Postgresql, jQuery, JavaScript, D3.js, Require.js, Selenium, HTML, CSS, QUnit.

plotpipe

2009-2011: Research Assistant – Experimental Cosmology

I worked with Prof. Amber Miller in the Columbia University astrophysics department in experimental cosmology research.

  • Worked on a Fourier Transform Spectrometer (FTS) and frequency selective service filters. This work required advanced knowledge of the physics of electromagnetic radiation, interference phenomena, basic electronic circuits, MATLAB programming, mathematics, electromagnetic wave filter design, and noise analysis. I also learned how to use and handle cryogenics (liquid nitrogen and liquid helium) to cool the instrument down to 4K (4 degrees above absolute zero).
  • Worked on a project called EBEX. It is a balloon-borne experiment designed to measure the polarization of the cosmic microwave background (CMB) radiation. My role was to go through the C source code of the software operating the instrument and write a detailed documentation for each function found in the so far undocumented code. This work required knowledge of the Linux OS architecture, understanding how device drivers work, and advanced knowledge of the C language.
  • I also programmed a section of the site that is used internally for comparison of various scientific data plots. This section allows filtering of data sets by various criteria, displaying multiple plots on one screen using AJAX technology, and automatically imports new data plots from a specified repository directory on a server located in Europe.
  • Before I started working on research, I was working for Prof. Amber Miller’s astrophysics research group as a webmaster.

 

  • FTS vaccum chamber
    FTS vaccum chamber
  • Chopper stepper motor circuit
    Chopper stepper motor circuit
  • EBEX/FTS laboratory
    EBEX/FTS laboratory
  • The EBEX experiment
    The EBEX experiment

2011-2014: Co-founder and Lead Developer at Jewbilation.com

Jewbilation.com is an online marketplace offering products for Jewish parties, events, holidays, and even for your house or personal entertainment. As a co-founder and lead software developer, I was responsible for its daily technical health and development of new features in the front-end as well as back-end area necessary for smooth and competitive operation of the company. I setup the website to run on a LAMP stack using the Symfony2 framework. The development was done on isolated virtual machine Debian instances managed by Vagrant. The deployment to staging and production environment is executed using Puppet and Fabric on linode cloud instances. The site is developed following the unit testing philosophy, including Selenium browser tests. The source code is versioned in Git. Further technologies used on this project include Web (HTML, CSS, jQuery), MySQL, Linux administration and scripting, Python.

2010-2011: Software Developer

MEDF is a start-up company, in which I was responsible for the design and development of the company website, which serves not only as a way to reach out to public and present information about the company, but also as an important business vehicle that the company operations depend on. Besides others, I worked on a design and development of a system called eVest, which is an investment portfolio and tracking system for microinvestors who use the system to microinvest into developing and poor countries and track their investments as well as returns. The system was developed in Python using the Django framework.

2007-2010: Software Architect and Developer at ConsulSafe.com

I worked with ConsulSafe as a partner on a learning management system (LMS) project. I was the system designer and developer of the project, which I worked on while I was a student at Columbia University. The system is designed to train employees of firms of various sizes in various disciplines (working with chemicals safety, hazard communication safety, and many more). It provided a way to track training progress of individual employees as well as the interface through which employees logged in and started courses that were assigned to them. The system was based on the client-server architecture, where desktop client applications communicated with a server database. The technologies I used include Delphi 2007 and SQLite3 on the client side and PHP 5, Doctrine, Symfony, MySQL, JavaScript, AJAX, HTML, CSS, Photoshop CS2, and Linux shell scripts on the server side.

2007-2008: Software Architect and Developer of a ListFL.com

My business partner and I jointly developed a real estate sales web portal at http://www.ListFL.com. The portal focused on sales of real estate in the state of Florida. My partner was the real estate adviser and the marketing person. I was the system architect and developer. We developed the system using PHP 5 and MySQL database. I also designed my own framework system to keep the PHP scripts comprising the site well connected. Further, the site implements the following technologies: AJAX, jQuery, JavaScript, HTML, CSS, and I designed the whole layout in Photoshop.

2006-2008: Application/Website Architect and Developer at UFACO, Inc

The company focuses on online sales of paintball guns and car tuning parts to target customers in France. The entire stock of items for sales is kept in an Excel spreadsheet database. My task was to write a Java program that parses the spreadsheet and, from it, generates a website through which clients can purchase the items. The program I wrote generates HTML/PHP pages that are directly linked to a shopping cart, that I also wrote. These pages get uploaded to a server and are, thereby, accessible via a browser. Clients browse the large database of available products and purchase them online. The technologies used on this project include Java, PHP, HTML, CSS, Ajax, JavaScript, Eclipse, MS Excel, Photoshop. The current design of the website is not my work. The design gets changed on a regular basis by the owner of the website. The internal logic that I developed, however, remains the same.

2004-2005: Java Developer at Ceska Sporitelna – a Major Czech Bank

I was a member of a team developing an online Internet banking system for a major Czech bank, Ceska Sporitelna, a.s.. I was a front-end developer responsible for the design and development of the web pages in the JSP language and connecting these to the business logic layer of the system. During the development, we were using a custom internal web framework (somewhat similar to Struts). The project was jointly developed by the Accenture corporation and Ceska Sporitelna itself. I learned how to work in team of programmers and cooperate with database administrators and architects. I used the following technologies: Java, JSP, HTML, CSS, Java, Websphere Application Server, INET framework, IntelliJ Idea IDE.

2002-2005: Software Developer at Gitus, a.s.

Gitus was my first major employer. I was on a position of a PL/SQL developer for Oracle DB platform and later I expanded to Java programming. I was a member of a team working on resource management systems for a major telecommunications corporation in the Czech Republic those days: Czech Telecom. Another project I later worked on, completely developed in Java/Struts/Hibernate/Spring frameworks, was a course management system for one of the Czech universities. While I was working for Gitus, I was also outsourced to the Czech bank, Ceska Sporitelna, to work on their Internet banking system. Used technologies: PL/SQL, Oracle DB, Java, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, Tomcat, OC4J, Delphi.

2001-2002: Information Specialist in the Czech Military

When I was on military duty in the Czech Republic, I was on a position of an information systems specialist. My responsibilities included administration of a network of about 50 computers in the barracks. I also developed various desktop, web applications and scripts that automated a number of logistic processes in the barracks. The position I was working on was designated for a rank of a captain. However, since I was just a soldier in his basic military duty, I was not allowed to get any higher rank than sergeant, therefore, at the end of my duty, I left the military with the rank of sergeant. During my service, I learned and implemented the following technologies: HTML, CSS, Delphi, PHP, MySQL, MS Office Visual Basic, basic Linux administration.

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