Behind the scenes: 5 Colorado software engineers share the coolest tech they've built

April Bohnert

A tech business is nothing without great tech, and that is only achieved with the help of great engineers. Behind the scenes, engineering projects small and large keep businesses evolving — yet often go unnoticed or unrecognized. We talked to five local engineers about the coolest project they’ve worked on in their current roles, and the impact those projects have had on their companies.

 

Tendril delivers cutting-edge technology solutions to utilities providers, energy companies and retailers to increase efficiency and energy awareness. According to platform engineer Ben Weisel, the work he tackles each day isn’t just challenging, it’s also meaningful.

What’s the coolest project you've worked on at Tendril?

Definitely our Orchestrated Energy product. Tendril's Orchestrated Energy software interacts in real-time with Wi-Fi-connected smart thermostats to optimize the temperature in individual homes. It's driven by a powerful machine learning algorithm that produces temperature schedules to save users money, while simultaneously helping utilities control energy demand on the grid.

What was it about the project that really stood out to you?

There are two main reasons. First, the Orchestrated Energy project has provided me with some of the most important and challenging problems to solve in my engineering career. And second, we've built a great team of smart, motivated people of all disciplines that have been great to work with and learn from.

How do you and the rest of your dev team work together?

Our team operates in an agile environment and uses Kanban to plan and track our work. This helps us stay adaptable to change and to swarm on problems to solve them quickly. Our team also works out of Tendril's Denver office, so we use a lot of Slack and Google Hangouts to collaborate with other teams out of our Boulder headquarters.

What makes your dev team unique?

Our team is particularly good at adapting to whatever new problem or technology is thrown our way. We also have a disproportionately high number of people whose full names are made up of two (or more) first names.

 

Guild Education works with companies and universities to improve educational benefits and help workers better understand and utilize the opportunities offered by their employers. Sean Cuevo has been a senior Salesforce developer for Guild for seven months, and already in his short time there has gotten his hands dirty solving a particularly interesting challenge.

What’s the coolest project you've worked on at Guild?

Since I've started at Guild, the data ingestion pipelines into Salesforce — between both our employer partners and our university partners — has been an interesting problem to solve. Each partner organization has different formats for their data, and it's a fun puzzle to figure out how best to consume it into a standard format that is useful to our internal users.

What was it about the project that really stood out to you?

We had to figure out how to work with both the limitations put on us by not only Salesforce, but also our partners. We don't have complete control over both ends of the data funnel, so we had to design a solution that could work within these constraints. We couldn't just throw more money at a server to handle a higher load. In the end, we built a staging area for data in Salesforce so that we could easily monitor and retry failed entries.

How do you and the rest of your dev team work together?

At our current stage, we have a lot of overlap across projects. I'm lucky in that Salesforce is involved in a lot of our processes, so I get exposure to other code bases and projects. We coordinate our efforts tightly from a high level with our daily stand-ups and we also sit next to each other, making it easier to react to changes quickly.

What makes your dev team unique?

What makes us work so well together is the level of respect we have for each other. We all bring different strengths to the table, and we have established a sense of trust across the team that allows us to work quickly and efficiently. We own up to our mistakes and we share our successes — there are no egos here. It really makes coming to work each day a joy.

 

Fanatics operates one of the largest sports merchandise e-commerce platforms in the world, which means it needs a robust and high-functioning software platform to keep up. Software engineer Steven Wade shared how his and his teammates’ work has had a measurable impact on the business.

What’s the coolest project you've worked on at Fanatics?

The coolest project I have worked on so far was the rewrite of our custom configurator product. We took a clunky, slow and neglected page and had the ability to revamp it while using all new tech outside of our current platform. The company allowed us the freedom to choose what we found to be the best choices for the situation.

What was it about the project that really stood out to you?

What really stood out was the immediate impact that redesign had. Our team was able to see rather large organic growth after it went live. 

How do you and the rest of your dev team work together?

The way our section of the company is set up, it really allows our team to thrive. We all have different strengths, and I believe we are really good at bringing them out in each other. This allows us to collaborate much more often and to a greater effect, which seems to be unique. It hasn’t happened on other teams I have worked with in the past.

 

As a full-service management and IT consulting firm, Credera’s work is constantly changing. John Brown has only been an engineering consultant there since June, but already he’s had the opportunity to explore new and exciting technologies.

What’s the coolest project you've worked on at Credera?

I'm really enjoying working on our Amazon Alexa project. We’re building the Alexa conversation for our client HomeAdvisor using PullString for versatility between chatbots, and a lot of open source technologies for automated testing and analytics. There's always great work to do at Credera, but voice user interface work is new and exciting right now. It's fun to be on the cutting edge.

What was it about the project that really stood out to you?

Most of what we're doing has never been done before, or has been done in a proprietary setting, so there's not much documentation or help compared to writing websites or microservices. I've been really impressed with the team's ability to collaboratively rise to that challenge, and it's given me a lot of growth.

How do you and the rest of your dev team work together?

We work together better than most other teams I've been on. We're all pretty young with zero to four years in the industry, besides our tech lead who's an old hand. Everyone's committed to being excellent, and there's a lot of room for that, but his leadership and mentorship round out our weaknesses to make us consistently great.

What makes your dev team unique?

Alexa is a cool space to work in, but every couple months to a year we're working on a different technology in a new client's stack. It makes for a lot of opportunity and growth. Besides that, while every company values excellence and professionalism, the people at Credera are picked because they're humble and honest. That means we can trust each other and our clients can trust us. It's a combination of working in the consulting model and Credera's culture that make this team different.

 

CSGI offers an array of business support solutions on a global scale, servicing major companies like Verizon, Comcast, Dish and AT&T. Sankeerth Nyalakonda works behind the scenes as a software development engineer, and despite the fact that the company is more than 20 years old, they’re still finding new ways to innovate through tech.

What’s been the coolest project you've worked on at CSGI?

There was a major upgrade that happened to one of our core applications, which is heavily used by our U.S. customer service reps. The upgrade made it better and faster and provided new functionalities to the customer, but we had to convert the existing dependent applications to work with the new framework.

I collaborated with a team of developers to rebuild a rules engine app that integrated with the CSG billing application, in order to help customer service agents place orders more effectively.

What was it about the project that really stood out to you?

This application was the first of its kind at CSG, and was successfully used to integrate with the new software development kit. It was definitely a challenging task doing it for the first time, at the same time a great opportunity to work in a cross-functional team environment with many smart people.

How do you and the rest of your dev team work together?

I had to work closely with the group of developers who originally developed the SDK for the parent application to make sure we rebuilt every functionality correctly for the new SDK, so that implementation remained transparent to the customer service representatives after migration.

 

Photos via featured companies. Responses have been edited for clarity and length.

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