After relocating from Austin to Louisville, I took a job with the Kentucky Higher Education Student Loan Corporation ( "the Student Loan People" ). I joined the quasi-state agency as the second of two C++/VB programmers in the Information Services Department. This was my first exposure to Visual Basic programming but, given my background in C/C++, it was not difficult to pick up.
Much of my work at KHESLC involved the manipulation of loan data. An old AS/400 system was in place as the main database and though it had it's own DOS-based access programs, these were cumbersome and inefficient to use. Often my goal was to design and implement ways to automate the interaction with the existing system.
One of my largest projects involved the automation of the Loan Verification Certificate system. This Visual Basic program took a list of borrower social security numbers and downloaded information from the AS/400. This data was then processed, formatted, and written out as a series of HTML.
One of the benefits of using Visual Basic was that it allowed me to easily embed code into Excel spreadsheets. This let me automate several tedious and error-prone processes that had been done manually before. It also gave me the chance to redesign some spreadsheets to add some color and formatting.
I wrote a few utility programs using C, mainly dealing with security, decryption, and batchfile processing. I also had the opportunity to do some ASP programming for the company website. The majority of my work, however, was done using Visual Basic and various AS/400 APIs.
My final project at the Kentucky Higher Education Student Loan Corporation was a "watchdog" program that monitored agent activity on the company's Mosaix phone system. This sytem was used for customer support calls and borrower contact so it was important to know how many people were logged on at any given time during the day.
With our first child due in December of 2002, my wife and I decided that it would be feasible for me to become a stay-at-home dad while she continued working towards tenure, and so my time with the Student Loan People came to a peacful conclusion.