(Photo by Stephen Babcock)
When you read a news article about a tech company at Technical.ly or elsewhere, chances are the founder or CEO is the person speaking about the company. But behind the new products and launches with new clients, there are engineers bringing the technology to life, and making sure everything works seamlessly.
With the latest edition of our RealLIST series, Technical.ly set out to spotlight some of the most influential technologists within our local communities.
Today, the inaugural RealLIST Engineers Baltimore is live.
They’re creating, maintaining and securing the software and infrastructure that’s being built in the city each day. And they’re powering the local tech industry as a whole: Whether it’s mentoring younger engineers or leading meetup groups, virtually all of our inaugural list count community right alongside code as a priority.
So, you might ask, how did we decide who’s real? It started with a public call for nominations. Then, we consulted technologists and looked back through our own coverage (it’s not all founders, after all). We considered how the person in mind was influential within their organization or community, how they overcame a specific technical challenge and how this person contributed to educating others on technical issues.
Next week, join us on Wednesday, Oct. 9, as we celebrate them with a happy hour to close out Baltimore Innovation Week. The event will be held at 1100 Wicomico, capping a full day of exploring the products being built in Baltimore at BIW’s Dev Day.
So let’s take a look at the first-ever RealLIST Engineers Baltimore, in alphabetical order:
Brad Benson, principal architect, Straighterline
The full-stack developer was described with a role we’re thinking a lot about with this list: “unsung hero.” Within the Federal Hill-based company providing low-cost college course options, he’s been the leader on platform launches that are specifically designed to function seamlessly for a user, even as a lot is happening on the back-end. For team members, he’s also been a voice for developing new skills and guiding career paths, according to the nomination.
Rachel Cohen, cyber software engineer, Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab
A graduate of UMBC and Johns Hopkins, Cohen now works at the Laurel-based lab to build new tools to enable government-facing cyber capabilities.
The Baltimore resident also played a key role in seeking to inspire high school and college students toward pursuing careers in the field, and is on the board of Howard County’s How Girls Code. At one of the largest tech employers in the area, she’s a champion of efforts to promote diversity and inclusion for women and underrepresented groups. Active in APL’s Society of Women Engineers, she’s led women’s history month events and organized discussions on inclusion, including how men can be active advocates for women in the workplace.
John Domingo, AVP and senior software engineer, T. Rowe Price
The storied Baltimore-based investment management company has a tech team here in its home city of Baltimore that’s growing in recent years. Domingo is a leading technologist in the firm’s area of global trading, drawing on 20 years of experience at leading Baltimore-based firms. At T. Rowe, he also helps steer the technology committee and mentors younger developers.
Deirra J. Footman, senior network engineer, 14 West
Footman worked to build and implement a change management system that helped with maintenance for both the IT and software teams at the Mt. Vernon-based company. But it’s not only within the company where she’s been influential. She blogs on technical and career topics at ccieby30.com, moderates three Slack channels and is a frequent mentor to the community.
“As a woman of color, I have often found myself looking around at conferences and online for other women who look like me and could relate to my unique set of experiences,” she wrote us. “When I couldn’t find who I was looking for in the Network Engineering space I decided to begin working to fill the gap.”
Michael Cohen, chief architect, eMocha Mobile Health
Cohen was recently promoted after three years working at the Mt. Vernon-based company that’s focused on medication adherence. Before that, the full stack developer spent 15 years leading software development at Johns Hopkins Technology Innovation Center, which works to create new solutions within the medical system. In the community, he’s been a judge at the bi-annual HopHacks student hackathon.
One thing that stood out from his nomination was the ability to explain technical intricacies of the company’s products to others: “He has an innate ability to distill complex information into digestible subject matter,” the nomination form states.
Dave Handy, principal software engineer, Protenus
After a decade at Booz Allen Hamilton, Handy joined the Fells Point healthcare analytics company as the tenth employee, and first engineer in a principal role. He’s known as the “Jedi Master for Scala development” — a key component of the company’s data processing application — and built the technical foundations for the UI and data processing applications.
He’s also the “go-to” when it comes to mentoring engineers at a company that is growing its team that’s building a pipeline of engineering talent as it grows. When they start, all of the new data engineers at the company get an overview of the architecture that’s drawn from what he created. Reading through his two nominations, we were reminded that an engineer’s role can be influential, even if the work is not the most prominent to a user. Much of his work happens behind the scenes, and “the fact that no one notices means it’s all working beautifully,” one states.
Ashley Jean, software engineer, MdLogix
A graduate of Loyola University, Jean pursued coding after being inspired at the Bmore on Rails Workshop for Women. In an interview earlier this year as part of our “5 Questions” series, it was clear that her work in tech is fueled just as much by the people in the community as the code itself. And that’s led to an organizing role with the Baltimore Hackathon, as well as a mentor to others. “If it scares you, I always say to do it,” she said.
Tanner Marshall, creative director and developer, Osmosis
At growing startups, there’s an opportunity to play lots of different roles. Marshall’s journey at the medical education company started as a video developer, creating the first 100 animated spots videos that are designed to present an engaging look at diseases and the body for medical students and pros. He’s also the voice behind the videos that’s frequently recognized. “If your doctor started medical school after 2015 there is a really strong possibility they have learned from Tanner’s voice,” the nomination states.
But along with his skills behind the mic, Marshall also developed coding skills so he could improve the process for creating videos within the company. These days, he is a member of the product team, leading creation of internal documentation and style guides that are key for the team of 11 engineers and product managers.
Michael Quinn, director of cloud engineering, Leverege
At the Internet of Things platform company with a pair of Baltimore offices, Quinn is trusted with high-priority projects. This has included development for a flagship product, as well as leadership on Amazon Web Services and application-related work. He’s also known at the company for providing plenty of coding tips to junior developers, as well as a quick wit, developed as a member of the Baltimore Improv Group.
Eliot Pearson, VP of technical development, Catalyte
Pearson began as a software engineer at AOL/Advertising.com in 2006, rising to the principal architect role at a company that continues to play an influential role in the Baltimore tech community. He takes the role of technologists in building community just as seriously, whether it’s mentoring, teaching robotics or civic projects. (We can attest from recent experience, as he immediately answered and provided great help when we reached out to him and others to help evaluate our RealLIST Engineers nominations — thanks Eliot! Now he’s in a VP role at Catalyte, another growing company with designs on playing a big role both in the city, and beyond.
Anindo Roy, Ph.D., CTO, NextStep Robotics
A robotics leader within the University of Maryland, Dr. Roy now has a leading role at a promising local startup. He spent over a decade focused on developing technology that could help people who have suffered a stroke restore mobility.
He’s the inventor behind key technology that powers NextStep Robotics’ physical therapy device, which is designed to help improve walking, and help patients leave crutches and other assists behind. He became a cofounder of the Baltimore-based company upon its launch, itself a story of university collaboration’s role in creating new companies. A professor at both the University of Maryland, Baltimore and University of Maryland College Park, he’s also invested in helping students.
Brandon Smith, VP of software engineering, Pinkaloo Technologies
Adaptability is key for software development, and Smith showed that skill from the beginning of his time at the Remington-based charitable giving startup 18 months ago. Learning a new programming framework in Django and the ins and outs of the platform, he set the stage for smooth launches. He’s now the leader who helps new technical team members as they come onboard, mentoring five to date.
Michael Talbott, tech innovation lead, Balti Virtual
An early team member of the Port Covington-based virtual and augmented reality studio, Talbott is playing a key role in development of new uses for immersive technology. Whether it’s Magic Leap or web-based augmented reality, he’s taken on technically challenging work. Talbott is also a mentor, providing leadership this past summer to a high school student who worked on an augmented reality project that toured the solar system.
Brian Thompson, director of web engineering, Mindgrub
According to the person who nominated him, Thompson is “THE go-to resource for web developers” at the Locust Point-based dev and marketing agency. Along with being well-versed in tech stacks, he’s also known around Mindgrub as being a helpful problem solver across departments.
And his influence stretches beyond Mindgrub. Along with speaking at numerous conferences, he’s a voice in open source communities, notably Drupal. “When Googling for a solution to a particular problem, it’s not unusual to stumble across his username and a solution he’s already pushed up somewhere in the public domains,” the application notes.
Stephanie Vizzi, developer, SmartLogic
Seeking a software development role while completing a master’s program at Goucher College, Vizzi joined the Canton-based consultancy’s apprenticeship program when it debuted last year. She’s since leveled up her coding skills, and produced well-read blog posts on React Native and other technical topics. Vizzi has also become a visible face in the tech community, whether it’s mentoring at the Girls Who Code chapter in Upton or attending the Charm City JS meetup.
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