Meet the Trainer: Bart Castle
Bart Castle is the latest addition to the CBT Nuggets roster of rockstar trainers. He has been busy creating Amazon Web Services courses to complement our cloud training library. His first CBT Nuggets course, AWS Security – Access Management, was recently released.
We caught up with Bart for a few quick questions so you could get to know him better.
Q: What are your hobbies and passions when you aren't creating videos? I am an avid musician and artist and pursue those pastimes when I'm not training. I play lead guitar and flute in a local (Asheville, North Carolina) rock band: The Fuzzards.
My whimsical artwork features dinosaurs, musical instruments, and fantastic animals. You can find it in the Zapow! Art Gallery in Asheville — and of course online at bartcastle.com/.
Q: What do you enjoy about Asheville? When my family and I moved from Oregon, we were looking for somewhere on the East Coast that would still afford great access to wild spaces — as well as music, arts, and culture. Asheville is a vibrant active community that reflects many of the themes of change we see in broader culture and politics. It is a great community to create, grow, and learn in.
Q: What are your areas of expertise in tech and IT? I have a background and degree in Computer Networking and spent the first half of my career working in and supporting converged networking and VoIP infrastructures with Cisco, Avaya, Nortel, and others. Don't ask me to tell you any funny Unified Communications jokes, there are none. Just empty promises.
I moved into a network administrator role where my duties included supporting our software developers and their lab. This was when automation and virtualization first shone their shiny-shine upon my days. Since then, I've been a champion for both, and that has led me into the world of cloud computing.
My broad interests and ease of working with people made the instructor opportunity one I could not pass up. I've traveled around the U.S. and abroad for years training on many telephony, networking, and cloud computing subjects. Working with such a broad spectrum of IT folks across a gamut of industries and locales has given me a unique view of the corporate and private IT world and its lovely trappings, eccentricities, and weaknesses.
Q: What certifications do you have? Are you working on any now? Whew! I have had so many over the years, but currently, I focus on maintaining my cloud certifications. I am one of the few AWS Authorized Instructor (AAI) Champions in the world. This means not only do I have all the core AWS certifications, but I have also demonstrated the highest levels of skill in my training, as well.
Of course, Amazon does not sit still and recently released some cool new specialty certifications that I am pursuing. I recently earned the Security Specialist title, and am now working towards my Networking Specialist and Big Data Specialist certifications. Both of these certs are add-ons to the other professional-level certifications for AWS.
I am also a certified and active member of the Cloud Credential Council, a non-vendor specific consortium of industry professionals who are passionate about public and private cloud computing services. Here's a fun list of current certs:
Amazon Web Services (AWS)
Solutions Architect (Associate and Professional)
Systems Operations (SysOps)
Cloud Credential Council (CCC)
Cloud Technology Associate (CTA)
Professional Cloud Solutions Architect (PCSA)
Professional Cloud Service Manager (PCSM)
Professional Cloud Security Manager (PCS)
Professional Cloud Developer (PCD)
Professional Cloud Administrator (PCA)
Q: What attracted you to technology? My dad was adept at most anything engineering or mechanical related. He instilled in me a huge fondness for tools of all types. Computer gaming in my teens attracted me to computers. When I saw how powerful and versatile a tool they were, that was what impressed me and made me want to learn more. To this day, it's still that love of tools and the problem/solution alignment of tools that holds my interest.
Q: What's your favorite thing about being a trainer? For many folks out there, IT is their life. Period. If not, then at least the center-point of their careers or the summation of countless great toils over many years. I see these folks in class or hear from them online, and they are stressed out. Like super stressed out. They're working long hours, studying while working long hours, tolerating bad coffee or smelly break rooms. All while studying and working long hours. You get the picture.
So when they start training or they watch a video of mine, I want them to laugh and smile and enjoy it in ways that they weren't expecting to.
Q: What do you like about online video training as opposed to boot camps or textbooks? Two things stand out for me: Reach and quality. Online training is such an accessible format. It makes sense in so many ways, so long as item two is met. Quality.
Online training has to be top notch and engaging, and it CAN be in ways that other formats are not. I learned early on in my transition from classroom to screen that you have to approach the energy and engagement piece different. When you get it right, it can provide a far more content-rich and engrossing learning experience than a live or virtual classroom.
Q: What is your best advice for learners? Know your weaknesses and learning style. It's not impossible to overcome a struggle, but the first step is identifying the hurdle. If you are not sure about your weakness, heck even if you ARE sure of them, experimentation can be rewarding.
Try a new way of learning or studying, a new format, or a new environment. Whenever possible, identify the specific objectives/topics as early as possible and work through until you feel your proficiency improve. Look for effective ways to measure your progress.
Q: How would you describe your teaching style? When I first became an instructor the person I was shadowing told me flat out, "Bart, you have to get people to like you first. It will be impossible to teach anyone anything if they can't stand sitting through your class." So, fun and engagement are priority number one. After that, it's all about telling stories and relating to the audience.
I am extremely visual with my training. Even before creating CBT Nuggets videos, I was drawing, drawing, and drawing every day in class. It's fun for me, and yes, a picture does tell a thousand words.
Q: What's something learners should know about you? I love what I do and I want people to enjoy technology, and especially IT training, as much as I do. I'm a huge nerd and a father, which puts my sense of humor right at the intersection of dad jokes, puns, and geeked-out minutia.
Q: If you could be any fictional character, who would you be and why? Hmm. I have always felt a resonance with Dr. Alan Grant from Jurassic Park (both the novel and film character). He cautions the characters to be wary of the "promises" of science reminding them that many "breakthroughs" come with a price. It's the failure to consider the impact that creates the most discourse most often.
I also enjoyed his role as an "old-school" guy (he is described as a "digger") providing wisdom in a "modern world." It's a perfect spin considering he is a paleontologist.
Q: What's the story behind the cool hats you can often be found wearing? I have always had a fondness for decorum and pomp and spectacle. The old saying "The clothes maketh the man" is powerful and speaks to our love of categorizing people and things based on what they look like, a troubling human habit to be sure. I've done a bit of acting over the years and the process of donning a costume does change you! So, my hats are an extension of that grand social experiment. It's fun to keep people guessing and questioning assumptions.
Start watching Bart's first CBT Nuggets course, AWS Security – Access Management, today. We hope you enjoy his creativity as much as we do!
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