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Hey, who is this guy?

An brief introduction to SparkFun's new Director of Software Development and IT (SWIT).

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An brief introduction to SparkFun's new Director of Software Development and IT (SWIT).

Hi, you recently read a blog post from me about the health and status of data.sparkfun.com. Some people were asking, “Hey, who is that guy?” I think that’s a fair question. I never really got a chance to introduce myself before I went and started talking about Data.

Back in January, Frencil, the long standing Director of IT here at SparkFun, decided to step down. Frencil was leaving under very good terms and decided that he would also help Nate find a new Director of IT for SparkFun. I applied for the position in February. As you can imagine, a position like this took a while to fill, but he was involved in almost every stage of the hiring process. I remember talking to him during the phone screen and then again during my in person interview. Since I’ve gotten to join the SparkFun team, he has been an excellent emissary of the brand, helping me feel very comfortable at SparkFun even when he is no longer an employee.

Frencil is a special guy, SparkFun was lucky to have someone like him when they did and I wish him all the best moving forward.

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Here I am.

As I have taken over I’ve made a few changes, most prominently the department name. In honor of all of the cool software work we do here at SparkFun, I asked that the department be renamed from IT to Software Development and IT, or SWIT. I have a great crew here helping me fly this ship and we are currently growing.

My technical background has mostly been leading development and DevOps teams, and I feel that the position here at SparkFun is fully situated to take advantage of these skills. My DevOps background specifically is what drove the post about Data. We had a problem, I wanted it fixed and then I wanted not only a chance to explain ourselves, but a chance to highlight how we were going to improve moving forward.

So, now that I'm here, I plan to be your conduit for many SparkFun-related information sharing activities. When we have something cool to show you, I’ll make sure you see it. If we mess up, I’ll be the one owning up to it. We believe in an open sharing of resources and ideas, and this transparency is our promise to you, our customers.

So, a little about me. I'm new to Colorado, having just moved here from Maryland (the DC Metro area to be more specific). I’ve never lived outside of the East Coast and I'm really enjoying both Colorado and SparkFun.

I'm a pretty big fan of science fiction and I’ll try and include as many references as feels right in most of my writing. This was an aspect of SparkFun culture that was not lost on me when I came for my first interview. All of the conference rooms are named after spaceships, the main conference room being the Millennium Falcon. Come on a tour and see how many spaceship rooms you can see!

On top of that, I'm a pretty big sports fan, having spent the last 11 years rooting for the Nationals. They came to town a little after I graduated college. Once I had a real job and was starting to really earn some money, I figured the best use of this was baseball season tickets. I’ve been hooked ever since.

Double M with a prized Nationals Give away

I have also found a very happy place with the intersection of Sports and science fiction/fantasy. It was at a baseball game that I first realized I was in costume at a major event, which helped ease my concerns about going to conventions as a cosplayer, an activity I have enjoyed for many years now.

I've also come up with interesting technology management theories that can be explained using the rosters of either the X-Men or basketball teams. When you consider any team, you have to look at your resource balance based on internal dynamics. The X-Men need a power balance, different mutants provide different and complementary skills. Yes, 10 Wolverines would be cool, but do you want to manage that? The same is true in basketball. Simply stacking the deck with the best players doesn't provide long term success. Getting the best players doesn't always get you everything you need. You also need role players that know how to complement each other and that can make everyone better. In both examples the goal is to build a team that is more than the sum of its parts. Interested in hearing more? I'm sure we can discuss that during a tour as well.

Technology management is a passion of mine. I'm glad that I was able to find a company that cares about its employees and the future. I'm excited to be here at SparkFun and I'm excited about our future together.


Comments 17 comments

  • Excellent! Very excited to hear about your open ideas and discussions policy. Someone who can talk about their mistakes is someone who knows how to go about making things better. Hats off to you sir. I look forward to your work and would love to hear your ideas for future enhancements in data visualization, especially if there were thoughts on how to enhance offline local visualization (I'm very interested in building geology oriented field sensors with real time feedback and user friendly HMI displays)

    • I will make lots of mistakes, I'll use those as teaching moments for everyone else.

      Short term, we don't have too many designs around data visualization, but we are trying to find the right few groups to help us out with that. I'll keep you posted.

  • In a website full of engineers, am I the only one bothered by: Software Development and IT == SWIT?

    • SWIT is short for Software and IT which is in turn short for Software Development and Information Technology.

  • Welcome. Can't wait to see cool things you blog about. Particularly posts regarding integration of software dev and hardware. Many of us who are experienced developers are used to modern hardware abstraction, which is great on tablets and desktop apps, but as we do iOT and microcontroller/microcomputer type applications the whole fun is messing with hardware. Plus every time I read about how other dev organizations do things, I learn something...

    • I'll try and help where I can. Our half of the IoT solution is on the big data side. Our Engineering team get to work very close to the board, we make sure our externally facing and internally managed software meets our needs. I can talk to the engineers doing this kind of work and see what they can share.

      • Great. I don't mean trade secrets, but working on coordinating external feeds like your big data iOT feeds, remote devices and local device software is a new challenge facing all us makers. It used to be you made a device and it had sensors and did a little data uploading or something, but now you and others are connecting field devices to big data services for us. Typically (as it sounds like with you guys) the device/local team is separate from the big-data guys, but if not coordinated well will be problematic.

        • Separate is true - our device programmers aren't in SWIT, but we help develop phant, and how it will get used. The people helping directing the director we go in are on the device/local team. We try and be one big happy family. Just with each piece focusing on what they do best

  • So let me see if I have this straight. If you form a team there, will it be the SWIT team?

    I can see it already,,, door busts open, multiple Sparkfun labcoat wearing agents stride in, Oscopes in hand. "drop the prototype! This is a SWIT team intervemtion!"....

    • Oscopes in hand

      That'd be engineering, not SWIT. SWIT's more likely to set up Jenkins on your OpenStack instance than using an oscilloscope. We'd probably bust you for trying to add too many things to your cart, or for trying to hack our secret admin panel (not going to help you find it).

      Edit: I can see what you're up to!

    • It's been more like this than Erik-Sparkfun is letting on. He's just trying to down play it since he's on the SWIT team.

  • Glad to see you've made the move from the "national swamp" (DC) to much closer to God's Country (Arizona, IMHO). At least you're not a Rockies fan! :-) (I'm a Diamondbacks fan, BTW.) As a customer, and a semi-retired engineer (software and electronics), I'm sure you'll find out why the name of the company has "Fun" in it! Maybe we'll get to meet sometime, if I can ever get to the Boulder area during business hours.

    • What's wrong with Rockies fans, aside from eternal optimism and savagely dashed hopes?

      • Actually, it's not so much the fans but the team that has a habit of beating the D'backs when the D'backs need a win, and they're in our division. I'm fine with Yankees, as long as we play only 4 to 7 post season games, and the D'backs are ahead in the last inning. :-) ;-) :-)

    • I was in DC for about 17 years, college through now. Some of my family lived in Phoenix for a little while, I think my opinion on the matter is best left unsaid.

      I'm already having a lot of fun. Looking forward to playing with an SIK.

      If you get up here, ask for me.

  • Welcome to SFE! It was great chattin' with you at AVC this year. Hoepfully Erik and Ross aren't busting your balls too hard. ;)

    • It was great meeting you too! So far they've been nice. I assume that they are just lulling me into a false sense of security. The other shoe will drop at any moment.

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