Here at MHTN, we strive to make visions a reality. We want to recognize those who make this possible by highlighting our talented team members.
Celebrating his 20th year with MHTN, IT Manager Daniel Wells, ties his background in architecture with problem solving skills to manage complex technology systems in our office. We asked him to tell us a bit about himself.
Where did you grow up? Where did you go to school?
My father was a College Professor, teaching French and Spanish. Until a professor gets tenure, you have the potential to move around a lot. I was born here in Salt Lake and spent my first year in Ogden. When the adoption was finalized my family moved to Texas. I grew up in Arizona (briefly), Texas, Utah and Virginia. By the time I was eighteen I had lived in 16 different houses/locations.
At the age of about eleven or twelve while living in Virginia, I had the chance to visit a number of places. I was inspired by two structures, the National Art Gallery in Washington D. C. and Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello near Charlottesville, Virginia. These caused me to plan an architectural future, taking drafting and lots of math in high school.
Family tradition from my mother’s side of the family had the males attending Texas A&M. While I did follow the tradition that much, I did not join the Corp of Cadets. I got an undergraduate degree in Environmental Design (Texas A&M’s undergraduate degree for Architecture), graduating in December of 1983. I looked at graduate schools in Virginia, Texas and Australia. My ability to get scholarships and grants kept me at Texas A&M where I got a Master’s of Architecture with an Interiors emphasis.
When did you first know you wanted to work in architecture/IT?
During my studies at Texas A&M I took almost all the computer related classes offered through the College of Architecture. These included a survey of existing computer aided design systems, which in 1982 were nothing like today’s offerings in computer aided design. So even before I ventured into the architectural workforce, the recessive nerd gene was showing.
I worked in North Carolina and Washington and developed computer skills that made me attractive to MHTN Architects way back in 1994. I assisted in the transition from “VersaCAD” to “AutoCAD” and the add-on “Softdesk – Auto-Architect”, the precursor to today’s AutoCAD –Architecture. At that time Tim Dustin managed the network and servers. When he went on to other things, I was asked to take on his role.
How did your focus shift from Architecture to Information Technology?
I have been asked many times how an architect becomes an information technology professional. My off the cuff answer was “recessive nerd gene”. But I reflected on this and decided that it has to do with problem solving. Architects are problem solvers. We use information about “systems”, like door systems, roof systems, wall systems and window systems to solve problems like how to keep rain water out of a building (though some architects are notoriously bad at this). I was able to take my problem solving skills and the ability to understand systems and translate them from doors, roofs, walls and windows to computer and networking systems.
What are some interesting things about you? What do you enjoy doing outside of the office?
My wife and I have been married for twenty-four years this December. We have four children, the oldest is twenty, and serving an LDS mission in New Jersey. The next in line is a senior at Hillcrest High School this year with the two younger are in the eighth and sixth grades at Albion Middle School.
Outside of work I spend most of my time with family, both immediate and extended. As a family we enjoy the outdoors. Camping, hiking and skiing, are the main “fun” activities, with a couple trips each year including the extended family for camping during the summer and skiing during the winter. The day after Thanksgiving is our annual family Christmas tree cutting trip. We also spend a good deal of time socializing and working together on a wide variety of projects as extended family.