Do Work That Matters: 4 LA Engineers Share the Projects They’re Proud Of

by Michael Hines
August 9, 2019

Pride plays a pretty big role in the tech industry, but you’d never know it because so many companies live by the motto “work hard and stay humble.” 

However, just because a company is humble doesn’t mean its employees aren’t filled with pride by the projects they’re working on and the problems they’re solving. We recently asked four local techies about the projects they’re most proud to have been a part of, along with what they love most about the challenges they’re currently tackling.

 

Tala Los Angeles tech jobs

Two hours may not seem like a lot of time, but when you work for a company like Tala, which likes to test new ideas frequently, it can feel like a lifetime. While the company’s data science team used to wait two hours to deploy its machine learning models, Data Platform Manager Chi Barnett found a way to cut that time down to a few minutes. Here’s how.

 

Tell us about a project you’ve worked on at your company that you’re really proud of. What role did you play in this project?

I recently built a system for our data science team to push new machine learning models into production faster and more easily than ever. Tala’s data science teams prefer to deploy new models themselves to move quickly and get instant feedback without waiting on engineering teams. The downside to that was that they were spending too much time managing their own infrastructure, instead of doing what they do best — machine learning! 

We sat down and came up with a list of requirements for a next-generation model deployment system: It should be fast, modular and easy to deploy, with each individual model able to scale up and down independently. I then built a generic Docker container that took the time to deploy from two hours to two minutes.

I recently built a system for our data science team to push new machine learning models into production faster and more easily than ever.” 

 

What are you working on right now, and what do you enjoy most about this project?

We are currently building the next generation of Tala’s data infrastructure, an exciting project that will help our business scale as we expand to new markets. With a new platform comes new data models and access patterns, and it’s important to work closely across the data organization to make sure our business takes full advantage of our new architecture. Data powers every decision that we make, from who gets a loan to how we evaluate new product ideas and bring them into reality. We’re excited to bring new levels of visibility and intelligence to every team, from accounting to customer experience!

 

Snap Los Angeles tech jobs

 

Have you ever wondered how Snapchat is able to serve up content that you’re really interested in seeing? You didn’t think it was magic, right? Hopefully not, because the reality is that ensuring users see what they want while simultaneously ensuring their privacy and respecting data integrity is an incredibly tech-heavy process. Snap Software Engineer Sherry Chen would know.

 

Tell us about a project you’ve worked on at your company that you’re really proud of. What role did you play in this project?

Identifying user interests so that we can offer them a customized experience in Snapchat. It is the foundation of many machine learning and data science projects across multiple teams at Snap, such as choosing which Discover channels to recommend. It is a big engineering challenge to build and maintain such a scalable system that sustains stable performance, keeps data integrity and complies with the privacy rules. As the tech lead on this project, I’ve made several significant improvements on user interests, developed additional features and collaborated across teams to support various business initiatives. 

The project has a direct impact on user experience, and a single percentage of improvement can affect millions of users.”

 

What are you working on right now, and what do you enjoy most about this project?

I am working on auto detection of content that doesn’t follow Snapchat's community guidelines using machine learning, which helps provide a safe and comfortable environment to both users and brands. I enjoy this project because it is challenging and has great impact. Building such a tool while also maintaining Snapchatters’ privacy is difficult but exciting. It requires creative solutions and is a good opportunity for me to explore cutting-edge technologies in data science. The project has a direct impact on user experience, and a single percentage of improvement can affect millions of users.

 

Puffco Los Angeles tech jobs

 

Nobody wants to talk to their friends about work all the time, but sometimes you just can’t help yourself, especially when you’re so proud of what you’ve created. For Puffco’s Head of Product Development, Avi Bajpai, it’s hard not to talk about the Puffco Plus oil vaporizer he helped take from concept to reality.

 

Tell us about a project you’ve worked on at your company that you’re really proud of. What role did you play in this project?

In August 2018 we released a redesign of the Puffco Plus. I find myself recommending the product to so many friends because it’s so simple to use. To me, simplicity and good design go hand in hand, which is why I am so proud of this project. With the redesign, we were able to add longer battery life, improve materials, update branding, build a more resilient atomizer and design a built-in extendable loading tool, all for a lower price point. I acted as the lead mechanical engineer on this project. I was responsible for creating all the technical documentation, 3D models and prototypes. I was able to utilize our in-house 3D printers as well as soft tools to quickly build and test the product’s functionality before we moved to mass production.

The products we are working on today are closely tied to the voices that make up our community.”

 

What are you working on right now, and what do you enjoy most about this project?

More than ever before, we are engaging with our community to better understand their needs and desires. The products we are working on today are closely tied to the voices that make up our community. This gives me confidence that my work will be successful and will be welcomed by our users.

 

Rapid7 Los Angeles tech jobs

 

Rapid7 helps companies worry less about security so that they can focus more on innovating. Senior Software Engineer Arturo Salazar and his team are currently working on a project that’ll allow users to address issues that surface during diagnostic scans on their own. According to Salazar, working on this project is rewarding from both a customer-facing and team perspective.

 

Tell us about a project you’ve worked on at your company that you’re really proud of. What role did you play in this project?

I was assigned to improve the performance of our product under heavy load by one of our larger customers. I worked with the customer to gather performance numbers as well as set a baseline. I was able to use this information to deliver incremental fixes to the product code that improved the product throughput for them by over 300 percent.

What I enjoy about this project is that I'm also reducing the load on another customer-facing department and freeing up their resources so that they can assist more customers.”

 

What are you working on right now, and what do you enjoy most about this project?

I'm working on adding an automatic diagnostic workflow that will allow customers to self service their own scan results. This will help reduce the confusion around scan results in the product, as well as decrease time spent by an individual diagnosing the results for errors, which frees them up to work on more tasks. What I enjoy about this project is that I'm also reducing the load on another customer-facing department and freeing up their resources so that they can assist more customers.

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