Thursday, April 3, 2014

Engineering at DreamBox Learning

The engineers who decide to join DreamBox Learning do so for many different reasons. Some reasons are of course personal, but there are a few clear patterns that I have observed over the years that I’d like to share.

#1 Engineering with a Higher Purpose
Most of our engineers are veterans of the technology world and have been employed by many software companies and across different industries. Only some of them, however, have been lucky enough at previous jobs where they felt their work had a higher purpose. Today, our engineers find that DreamBox fulfills that aspect of their professional life.
It is a great feeling to know that hundreds of thousands of children are improving their math skills by using a product you’ve had a direct hand in creating.
For engineers with young children of their own, it is also refreshing to be able to show their kids what they work on—sparking interest in those young minds for both software development and math in the process.

#2 Engineering for Scale
DreamBox is continually built and constantly refined to scale to millions of users on the web. Our student population continues to increase year after year, and we recognize that being able to keep pace with the demand starts from having a solid architecture.
The improvements we continuously make to our platform require an ever-growing amount of data to be collected, stored, and analyzed for each student. This need for complex and evolving data analysis solutions and our growing data collection volume is an exciting challenge for our engineers who become experts in “Big Data” solutions.

#3 Engineering in the Cloud
At DreamBox we use AWS cloud solutions heavily. In fact, we are 100 percent hosted in the cloud, and both our engineering and operations departments are continually working on new ways to maximize the value we get from this choice.
We have been at AWS ReInvent in Las Vegas each year and we ride on the cutting edge of their technology solutions, making us a great choice for engineers who like to keep their skill sets current.
We use a number of Amazon services and systems such as ELB, EC2, CloudFormation, ElastiCache, RDS, DynamoDB, SQS, SES, EMR, etc.
We architect our backend as a collection of highly scalable, highly reliable distributed services, loosely coupled and built for failure. This strategy allows us to scale to the constant demands of our business.

#4 Engineering with Smart People
We hire well and we hire smart. Our engineers are a pleasure to work with and are carefully selected for both skills and cultural fit. We work in an environment where coders and educators interact constantly to bring the best possible educational product to market.
Recognizing that the market moves at an incredible speed, we move fast  and are consistently researching and experimenting to keep stride with all those needs, desires, and technological advances. We strive to make innovation part of our engineering culture and we are very data-driven, basing much of our innovation on what we see when evaluating the numbers rather than on guesses.
Also, we are not afraid of thinking outside the box nor of making mistakes, as we recognize that controlled errors are often a base for improvement.

#5 Engineering without Dogmas
We are an agile software development shop—fast and lean. We currently operate mainly using a Scrum process but without subscribing to any particular “book” or position. In fact, we adapt our processes and technology choices to our particular needs and we shy away from engineering dogmas or “this is the way we do it here” stances.

#6 Engineering with a Personal Life
We come to work every day to help all children acquire better math skills, but we do not forget about our own children and families in the process.
Most of our engineers have children of their own, and DreamBox has been very successful in promoting a healthy work/life balance where employee needs are acknowledged and supported by management. 
We come to work to solve hard problems; we work passionately on these problems keeping in mind the value that we are bringing to millions of school children. We recognize that this is made possible because each of us know that at the end of the day our employer is as respectful of our personal lives outside the office as much as it is for those of our customers.

#7 Engineering with Dogs
We have a dog-friendly office space and our employees are welcome to bring in their well-behaved canine pets, and they do.

Written by Lorenzo Pasqualis

Sr. Director of Engineering at DreamBox Learning

No comments:

Post a Comment