Xavier Primus

Xavier Primus, co-chair of the Solar Energy Tree Project, stands beside the charging station located near the Hunt Library on Centennial Campus.  “We’re always trying to improve our use of technology and the environment, and this was the perfect centerpiece,” Primus said.

Graduate student Xavier Primus works a full-time job as a software engineer at Fidelity Investments, owns his own software consultancy firm called Apptus Development and is the webmaster of the Krispy Kreme Challenge and Service Raleigh. Primus, who is also a Park Scholar, received his undergraduate degree from NC State in December 2014 and is now working toward his master’s degree in computer science.

Primus has a mile-long list of accomplishments including co-chair of the Solar Energy Tree Project and working for NASA and the National Security Agency. He said he grants his successes to his “investigate spirit,” which he also said inspires him to study computer science.

The Park Scholarships class of 2015 worked on the Solar Energy Tree Project, and as a leader of his class, Primus was chosen by his advisers to head the project. The project began in January 2014 with fundraising. 

“It was a lot; trying to get people to work for you when they have classes and busy schedules is pretty difficult,” Primus said.

The tree the Park Scholars created is a charging station for electronic devices and is powered by the sun.

“We wanted something approachable and close to home, something you’ve seen before,” Primus said about the choice of design. “If you have something aesthetically appealing in the field of sustainability that you might not look into, you’ll be more likely to talk about it.”

Primus said businesses he spoke with and even students on his own committee doubted he could pull the Solar Energy Tree Project off. The project became more complicated and more expensive as time went on.

“I just stayed positive and dedicated to the project because if I faltered, everyone else would too,” Primus said.

Through corporate and proposal funding as well as a letter-writing campaign, Primus raised more than $32,000.

Beyond the Solar Energy Tree, Primus traveled to Virginia to work for NASA as a summer internship his freshman year. He did IT work for the agency to ensure that the astronauts could communicate in order to land the shuttle safely.

Primus also created software, worked on websites, made organization charts and even made a live chat feature for NASA.

“I got to do things out of my box, different from what I was used to,” Primus said. “I had never done anything in that field.”

Primus’ work with the NSA was much different. Primus said NSA actually approached him to continue work on his senior design project. The NSA was working with NC State’s Department of Communication to do surveillance, but in a different way.

“It wasn’t surveillance as in just monitoring people to see what they were into, but instead looking at how they react, communicate and collaborate with others,” Primus said.

Primus said the research process included cameras and microphones that were able to detect eye contact, facial features and could pinpoint the trigger words that helped or hurt the conversation.

Primus said the NSA wanted something more in-depth than that, so with help from four optical and infrared cameras and, as Primus says, “a little bit of magic,” Primus helped create 3D video technology with Microsoft Kinect. With this technology, users can replay a video from any direction at any time.

Primus is even an entrepreneur, as he began the software development firm, Apptus Development, himself. He began his company in July 2015 with the idea of helping small businesses affordably purchase software to enhance their websites and sales.

Primus said his firm offers packages without “bloat,” or unneeded or wanted things for which companies pay. Primus said that with Apptus Development, small businesses can have a software package made to fit their company’s specific needs. Although the firm has made steps forward, Primus said in his mind, the company is still in progress.

Coming from a military family, Primus has moved around his whole life. He has lived in four different states but said he is proud to call Raleigh and NC State his home. Primus said he loves the community that the university has to offer.

“Over the four years I’ve been here at NC State, this campus has empowered me,” Primus said. “There is a belief from the faculty in their students that what they teach will be employed. NC State gives its students the resources to do whatever they want in life.”