Engineers are problem solvers — something we can all use in 2020.
As we head toward closing out the year, we’re putting out Technical.ly Delaware’s inaugural RealLIST Engineers, a list of 10 influential software and IT pros highlighted for their work both on the job and throughout the community.
The honorees range from fintech devs to civic data wranglers; COVID-19 heroes to fighters for equity in tech.
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. 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. Shoutout to Ben Garvey, Eliot Pearson and Brian O’Neill for helping us with the technical review.
Now, in alphabetical order, here are the Technical.ly Delaware 2020 RealLIST Engineers:
Kyle Barkins, cofounder, Tapp Network
2020 has been many things, one of them being a U.S. Census year. It would be very easy for that to get buried in a year with a raging pandemic and social and political turmoil, but while the census may lack shock value, it’s incredibly important. An inaccurate Census count can mean local schools, hospitals and social services don’t get the funds they need. Tapp Network, a Wilmington marketing and technology firm with a focus on nonprofits, was a census partner in Delaware, with a job to help create an online information portal to help the partners work as a team and make it easy for organizations and individuals to find Delaware census information.
With COVID-19, that platform became even more vital.
Barkins, a cofounder of Tapp, developed the communications platform to manage ordering and distribution of all the educational materials and social media messaging for the census website. He’s also served as a web and mobile strategic advisor for startups.
Melissa Blottman, software engineer, Capital One
Software engineer Blottman is “a fierce advocate for the customer and goes above and beyond to ensure that we are building the right thing with the right user experience in mind,” said her nominator. “In addition to her day job, she volunteers with the organization’s Coders group that focuses on introducing the next generation to STEM subjects and software engineering.”
Although she is relatively junior in her career, Blottman mentors others who are interested in technology, including a gentleman who wants to switch careers from project management to engineering and, as part of Code Path, reviews resumes with college students.
Brian Conneen, CIO/CTO, Best Egg
Conneen has been in the software developer and IT industry for 20 years, including 11 years with Oracle. Now, he’s the chief information officer and chief technology officer for Best Egg, the Delaware-based fintech app by Marlette Funding (a company that is expanding in North Wilmington’s Concord Plaza).
Coneen was brought in by Marlette founder Jeffrey Meiler to develop Best Egg, with its cloud-based infrastructure and easy adaptability. It’s one of the most consistently highly customer-rated lenders.
“What Brian has helped us build is a different experience,” Meiler said in an interview with Technical.ly in 2017.
John DiGiovanni, innovation architect, ChristianaCare
ChristianaCare has many, many talented technologists. DiGiovanni, who worked as a senior systems engineer for ChristianaCare for 18 years before becoming innovation architect at the Health and Technology Innovation Center five years ago, has a particular passion for software development benefiting patients and improving quality of life, something we saw when he was a panelist at the Delaware Dev Conference in 2018.
Among the projects he’s worked on include emergency room and cardiac arrest tech, and virtual reality projects — including one that puts newly diagnosed cancer patients into treatment scenarios using VR before they go in for the first time so they’ll know what to expect, as well as VR distraction therapy for cancer patients undergoing treatment, which won a $50,000 Magnet Award from The American Nurses Credentialing Center.
David Ginzberg, director of application delivery and support, Delaware Department of Technology and Information
As director of application delivery and support at the state’s IT department and founder of Yorklyn Civic Design, Ginzberg, a 2012 computer science graduate of the University of Delaware, is well known in the technology and information community. But he’s probably best known as a civic hacker and cofounder of Open Data Delaware (ODD), the volunteer group that works often with data from the Delaware Open Data Portal.
ODD organized hackathons that turned into the more respectable-sounding “data jams,” with challenges such as tackling accessibility issues faced by DelDOT and the state’s Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control. These days, the weekly Code & Coffee sessions are on hold, but ODD has upcoming Project Nights on its Meetup calendar.
Jocelyn Harper, senior software engineer, PayPal
Harper as long been a powerful voice for Black women in tech, including her 2018 resignation from Girl Develop It over the organization’s handling of complaints of racism. A full-stack developer, she worked for a while as a senior associate software engineer for a major bank in Wilmington before leaving and landing as a senior software engineer. Now she works for PayPal.
She’s done lots of speaking and mentoring during her career, both of which are evident when you listen to her tech podcast, Git Cute, a relatable, down-to-earth podcast that offers a fresh voice in tech. In October, the podcast launched the series “Learn Java from a Senior Java Engineer,” featuring Harper herself explaining concepts like object orientated programming and polymorphism as it pertains to Java.
Tariq Hook, cofounder and CIO, Code Differently
Hook is well known as a software developer and coding instructor in Wilmington, even winning our very first Delaware Innovation Award for Technologist of the Year in 2015.
In 2018, Hook cofounded Code Differently, an experiential learning coding program with a focus on underserved youth and building up state’s talent pipeline starting from elementary and middle school. The program held a successful virtual summer cohort; some of the students even appeared during Philly Tech Week 2020’s Dev Conference.
While youth is the typical focus, with the desperate need for workforce development and job placement during the COVID-19 pandemic, Code Differently launched the Return Ready program, a multitiered coding camp and job placement program available to adult Delawareans for free. The program is supported by Delaware’s emergency CARES Act funding.
Gabe Humphreys, CTO, Green Line Business Group
Humphries is a hands-on software developer, helping to develop GLBG products including Danio Diary and Eye Need A Witness, and did pro bono development and consulting for UD’s HeNN (Help Near and Now) app, which provides resources for those seeking help for opioid addiction, including a mapped listing of services and clinics in the area.
Green Line (an inverted reference to redlining), focuses on applications that connect people, with its Danio security technology, has innovated communication between healthcare workers, patients and family members, while Eye Need a Witness alerts users to incidents nearby that they can record the incident, either for law enforcement or, if necessary, as evidence of law enforcement abuse.
Asheesh Kancharla, senior software developer, CSC
Kancharla is the technical lead for the Data Warehouse and Business Intelligence team at CSC.
“Recently,” said his nominator, “Asheesh gained expertise in the Advanced Data Analytics platform with machine learning and artificial intelligence features. Asheesh took the lead to design and roll out a new predictive analytics solution for the Sales and Marketing Team to increase revenue and monetize the data.”
He also mentored and coached his other team members to drive various data analytics initiatives, and has been instrumental in the successful implementation of an automatic, self-service, predictive and prescriptive data analytics platform for the business services corporation, they said.
Anupama “Ann” Venkataraman, fraud analytics manager, TD Bank
Venkataraman describes herself as a “proficient storyteller, adept at extracting actionable insights from large datasets, and presenting business recommendations to senior management.” She has been an events manager for Delaware Tech Meetup for a year and a half after taking over for Mona Parikh.
Delaware Tech Meetup continued on through COVID-19, pivoting to monthly virtual events like “Putting Your Words to Work in Digital Marketing,” “DevOps — Mindset First, Tools Second” and our own virtual, multi-market Super Meetup.