NASA People

Center Snapshot: Paul Tobias
Snapshot: Paul Tobias. Image above: Paul Tobias enjoys the problem-solving aspect of working as a computer troubleshooter at NASA Langley. NASA/Sean Smith

Denise Lineberry

Paul Tobias’ first computer was an Apple IIgs, a boxy desktop with the original color-striped apple logo. It had a 16-bit processor that required the user to insert a floppy disc for start-up.

For Tobias, technology has led the way. He is an ODIN Desktop Systems Administrator, employed by Lockheed Martin.

And the icing on the cake is that he is a technology guru at a NASA’s Langley Research Center. As a child, Tobias often watched the NASA channel and fondly remembers visiting the Johnson Space Center’s museum.

In past years, Tobias has worked as a SAP consultant and a computer-aided design (CAD) drafter for a chemical company. One thing all of his jobs have had in common – a computer.

At work, he uses a Apple Mac Pro with two Dual Core 2.66 GHz processors. That’s 4,000 times faster from his first.

Tobias troubleshoots user issues and delivers new equipment to all of Langley’s ODIN customers, an estimated 3,000 employees.

“I like the uniqueness of my job,” he said. “I get to solve problems and explore hands-on. There are no bold face instructions for a lot of the things I do.”

His personal computer is a Apple Mac Pro.

Tobias is the director and associate producer for Hak5 (, a technology show with episodes on Information Technology (IT), gaming and hacking. “Then we wrap it all up with a healthy dose of cocktails and geek comedy,” the Web site explains.

In 2005, his friend Darren Kitchen, Hak5’s Director, gave Tobias a video camera and asked him to film the first few episodes. Since, Tobias has traveled with the show to conferences in Toronto, New York and San Francisco.

On Nov. 18, Hak5’s cast and crew of nine completed their 614th episode.

The show has drawn attention from Wired Magazine and PC Format Magazine.

Tobias is perfectly okay with being “behind-the-scenes.” He actually prefers it there.

He enjoys taking digital photographs of “dilapidated or abandoned places and things.” He spent hours teaching himself how to use Photoshop for photo editing.

Tobias enjoys gaming, mostly on his Xbox 360. He also enjoys listening to punk and Asian-pop music.

At 25, Tobias has experienced many changes in technology and has managed to keep up with the times and technologies and make a career of it.

He hopes to go back to college and earn his mechanical engineering degree. And 25 years from now, he’ll have a whole new list of technologies to conquer.