At DUOS, we’re creating a new “System of Aging” using technology, a network of service providers, and the human touch. That takes a team of creative, forward-thinking engineers, and our team is growing all the time. So, what’s it like to be a DUOS engineer? We caught up with Nikhil Plassmann, a senior software engineer here at DUOS, to get a look behind the scenes.
Q: Before we jump in, could you tell us a little about yourself?
A: Hi! I’m Nikhil. I live in Denver, Colorado with my partner and our rambunctious German Shepherd mix, Lola. I am a Senior Software Engineer at DUOS. I joined the company a year ago and have primarily worked on the Front End of our Operations Tool - a TypeScript React web app built in the NextJS framework.
Q: What are your hobbies outside of work?
A: I love being active and outdoors—I actually moved to Denver because of the great hiking, rock climbing, and nature. Recently, I took a trip to Bend, Oregon and drove to Arches to see the rock formations. Then, I visited Moab and ended the trip in Idaho. I love sport climbing and got to do some climbing at Smith Rock, which was pretty incredible. Really, I just love being outside!
Q: How were you introduced to DUOS?
A: I first heard of DUOS because I had a friend working here who thought I would be a good fit given my technical background. When I learned about DUOS’ mission and the wonderful people here, I knew it was a role and a culture I could get behind.
Q: What appealed to you most about DUOS?
A: Definitely the company’s mission of helping older adults and caregivers. I lived with my grandparents as they grew older in order to help them with their everyday needs, so I really understand this space from a caregiver’s perspective. As an engineer, I was excited to take on a greenfield project, an opportunity to build new software from the ground up, without the constraints of an existing system.
Q. Take us through a day in the life of an engineer at DUOS.
A: I’m focused on imagining and building out the front-end of the DUOS application—our customer portal. I regularly meet with our engineering team, our design team, and our product team to hone in on features that will make members’ lives easier and which of those we can build right away. I start my day with Morning Stand Up, catching up with the team, and sharing my progress and blockers. This helps me develop a framework of how I should spend my day - whether making progress on building a new front-end feature, pairing with a colleague, or reviewing the implementation of a new feature with our product & design teams. I usually take a break to walk my dog or have lunch with my partner and wrap up the day with some code reviews of other team member’s work waiting to be merged into our Integration branch.
Q: What do you like the most about your job?
A: The people! The team is really fun, collaborative, and good at problem solving. People here aren’t afraid of finding solutions to complex problems. There’s an attitude of, “let’s make it happen,” versus getting stuck. We’re all working remotely, so you also never know where people are. We have a guessing game of where people are logging in from while they’re traveling or out and about in their city, which makes it interesting!
Q: What has been your favorite moment at DUOS so far?
A: The engineering team met up in Denver for our first hackathon, and it was absolutely awesome! I was able to meet and work with my teammates in person for the first time. For the hackathon, we picked the problem of understanding insurance benefits. In particular, we were looking for an easier way to determine transportation benefits through health insurance. Our team set out to build a new tool, and by the end of the day, we had a working prototype built in React. It was really exciting, plus we got to work in a cool spot with a view of the Rocky Mountains. Then, we hung out together and bonded as a team. It felt good to solve a problem together!
Q:How do you stay connected to the team given the remote environment?
A: We usually work in parallel on a shared screen with our cameras on. That’s nice because it makes it seem like I’m in the same space as a real person and not just a face on a screen. That collaboration is the best part. I’ve worked remotely for a few companies in the past, but with DUOS, it doesn’t feel very remote or isolating.
Q: How is your job at DUOS different from others you’ve had?
A: Being part of a mission-driven company is just different. DUOS isn’t just trying to make a profit, but asking, “what can we do to make things easier for our members?” That’s the #1 thing we’re trying to do. It’s very rewarding, knowing that day-to-day, we’re learning about our members and figuring out how to help them. That makes me feel motivated to go to work and connected to our mission. Having purpose behind your work is something that can disappear in some software engineering jobs, but that’s definitely not an issue at DUOS.
Q: What's one thing a software engineer should know if they’re considering working for DUOS??
A: We’re so new, we get to build everything from the ground up. There’s tons of greenspace. Creativity is welcomed, so if you have an idea, there’s a place for it. There aren’t as many dependencies, and people aren’t worried about stepping on anyone’s toes. We’re all just trying to get everything up and running. You’ll constantly be learning, so it’s an excellent place for career growth.
Q: What are you looking forward to accomplishing in 2022?
A: I’m looking forward to building tools for our Operations team, taking on new initiatives, like how we use insurance benefits to solve problems, and building our mobile app with the React Native Framework!
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