Brennan has been working for Brightspot since August 2016.
Most recently, Rose went on the record with Brennan Ebeling, a software developer who joined Brightspot, formerly Perfect Sense, in 2016 after graduating from JMU. Brennan, initially a piano and pipe organ student, took a much different path to Brightspot. During their conversation, Brennan and Rose discussed his musical background, how he has grown as a developer during his first year at Brightspot, and his role on our recent project with ATD.
You came to Brightspot after graduating from JMU in 2016. What brought you here?
Brightspot came to the JMU job fair, which is where I first heard about the company. I spoke with Ryan Anderson and came away very impressed. A few weeks later, I visited Reston for an an interview. At the time, Brightspot was between offices and working in the basement across the street. During the interview, they took me over to see the construction of the new office and I was really impressed. There were cool things like the coffee bar, and they had just added the hardwood floors. It was beautiful! The interview was the most fun I had at any company. Soon after, I got an offer, and the rest is history.
In the 15 months you've worked here, how have you grown as a developer?
I have definitely learned a lot from working alongside so many top-notch developers. Working with them, I have picked up knowledge and best practices. Also, I have been able to take on leadership roles on several on my projects as more senior developers transitioned to new assignments. I started as the most junior of developers and now am a lead developer. It has been a big growth experience to go from being asked to complete minor tasks to being in charge of keeping an entire project on track, merging code, and maintaining excellent quality. It's been quite a journey!
You didn't start in the computer science field. What sparked your interest and led you to purse this career path?
I actually started in music, studying piano and pipe organ, but drifted away from that when the economy got bad in 2008, and realized I didn't want to be a starving artist for the rest of my life. My biggest influence was my grandfather who grew up during the Depression. He encouraged me to pursue a career that would always be in high demand. Since the age of ten, when I first started fooling around with programming, I have had an interest in computers. It seemed like a natural choice to me, and there were good schools for computer science in Virginia.
What is your current project? Describe your role on the team.
I am the lead developer on ATD. It's a big project that was broken up into multiple phases. Currently, we are trying to finish the final phase. ATD is the first iteration of Brightspot Community, which is sort of our implementation of a social media site where users can follow each other, comment, favorite, bookmark, and join groups. I am mostly focused on back end development like search queries.
What technology trend intrigues you the most? Why?
Self-driving cars are very interesting. There are a lot of repercussions and ethical considerations. It's really exciting to see what they can do, but at the same time you read articles about someone putting spray paint on a stop sign and the car reads it as a 45 mph sign. There is still a long way to go. When it happens though, its going to be ground breaking because there is so much that involves transportation that will be completely changed by this technology.
Besides the people, what's your favorite part about working at Brightspot?
Probably our technology stack. We use Java which isn't my favorite programming language, but we have done a lot to make up for that. We have valuable tools, like on the server we can look at the build and see the code commit that has gone in. We have tools for running code without having compile it which saves a lot of time especially for a back end developer. Dari is an amazing piece of software.
What are your favorite activities or hobbies to do outside of the office?
I do a lot of reading both non-fiction and fiction. I also like hiking with friends in West Virginia. Of course with my musical background, I enjoy playing the piano.
Where would you go in a time machine?
There are a lot of places I'd like to go! Mostly, I would want to go to the early 20th century to see all of things that happened between World War I, Great Depression, and World War II.
Tell me more about your experience as an organist. When did you start playing? Do you still play? What is your favorite song?
I started playing organ around 15 after I had been playing the piano for a few years. My grandmother plays organ and she was an inspiration to learn it. I was awed by the power behind the instrument. It's the largest instrument you can build, and the mechanical complexity is fascinating. As for the music, it's hard to pick one favorite, but Bach is certainly one of my favorite composers, along with other late-19th century and early-20th French organ composers.