When you think of Jonathan Champ, a resourceful human encyclopedia and information guru come to mind.
A native of California, Champ moved to North Carolina to attend UNC Charlotte. There, he met his wife, Jenny, and upon graduation with a degree in computer science, moved to Raleigh to be with Jenny who was pursuing a master’s degree.
In 2008, Champ joined DELTA and has continued to significantly impact a variety of projects and applications since his arrival.
Champ, DELTA’s PHP developer/information architect, is thought of as the go-to guy by coworkers for any issues involving data, the DELTA website, mailing lists and many other projects. He is always interested in learning new things and passing along knowledge, and if he doesn’t know something, he takes the time to research and learn more.
Champ is collaborative by nature and actively contributes code and bug fixes to the Moodle community as well as shares software development best practices. He completed the Pathways Leadership Development Program in 2016 where he collaborated with other participants to develop an Expectant Parent Portal and Paid Parental Leave recommendations. After the program, the group was invited to participate on a subcommittee of the Council on the Status of Women where the ideas created in Pathways will continue and be presented to UNC General Administration Human Resources.
In his time at DELTA, Champ has seen two location moves, one reorganization and almost a doubling of staff members. “Operationally, we’re serving several times as many students and faculty as before and we’ve never been more focused on project planning and ensuring student success,” he added.
Champ has also impacted fellow DELTA staff members. Many agree that Champ is extremely thoughtful and kind, someone who is always willing to lend a hand. In 2012, Champ was recognized by his coworkers as a Pride of the Wolfpack award recipient for going above and beyond his normal duties.
How would you describe your position to someone unfamiliar with DELTA?
“I connect information to websites/web applications and keep things running smoothly,” said Champ. “Specifically, I empower instructors and administrators by creating, maintaining and enhancing the tools they use to schedule upcoming courses, create an online course space, maintain a course roster, submit grades and fund academic programs.”
Champ’s expertise includes PHP, MySQL and local expertise in web security and university data. On his team, he knows best how student enrollments all interact with Online and Distance Education scheduling. He also helps with HTML emails generated from within DELTA to make sure the code is accessible and valid. Champ is also involved in installing new versions of WordPress and making any functionality or security fixes.
What has been your favorite experience and/or project while at DELTA?
“DELTA is full of fun, amazing people and there’s always delicious food, so when all of that comes together for the DELTA Thanksgiving Potluck, it’s a great opportunity to enjoy both before the big end of semester push,” said Champ.
A few of Champ’s favorite projects include security hardening, permissions and WolfWare. Champ also plays an integral role in helping DELTA’s Senior Management Team report correct numbers for funding. Previously a by-hand process, Champ worked with the Office of Institutional Research and Planning to automate the process and ensure the official enrollment numbers match, a feat he achieved for the first time several years ago, and continues to work with campus partners to maintain.
What makes your job special? What do you enjoy most?
“I am involved in a lot of different projects, which helps me stay fresh and aware of the changing landscape. My favorite tasks either improve the performance of an application by at least an order of magnitude or improve the security of an application or system using current best practices,” said Champ.
He added, “Working with a fun, talented team is definitely what I enjoy most because it makes team meetings a positive experience and the results are significantly better.”
When did you know you wanted to pursue computer science?
“When I was in kindergarten, I told my teacher I wanted to make computer games,” said Champ. He explicitly remembered the first computer he was able to use as a kid as the IBM PS/1 and continued to list off its CPU, hard drive and RAM.
Champ recalled playing multiplayer Jeopardy on the computer with his parents. “There were different keys on the keyboard that allowed you to buzz in. I had space bar and each of them had a control button on the sides,” Champ explained. “It wasn’t quite Jeopardy junior, but I did my best.”
His early fascination with computers hasn’t faded. “I knew that I wanted to write computer programs. I like the idea of setting up sets of rules and having it go and do the right thing. If it makes a mistake, 99 percent of the time it’s because I did something wrong, and I can fix that,” he said.
What do you like to do outside of work?
Champ is a fan of video games and has recently finished the game Fallout 4, noting his favorites are Super Metroid and Portal. He also enjoys streaming video, eating and reading.
Typically, Champ is reading a sci-fi action book, but he said sometimes he reads about quantum physics and computer security. When it comes to his favorite food, Champ was adamant that Thai food is the best food in the world — a fact that probably does not surprise his usual lunch crew.
Also on the list of his favorite things is relaxing by the ocean, specifically in Cancun, Mexico, with Jenny.