Innovative projects. Free meals. The “Winter Classic” ping-pong tournament. And, of course, inflatable sharks.
What do you get when you combine all of these elements in the Signal office?
You get Shark Week – our company-wide, biannual Shark-themed hack-a-thon. For the whole week, employees have free reign to put aside their usual workload and dive into projects focused on innovation and efficiency or improving office life.
During our most recent Shark Week, 30 projects were presented in a live demo. It was an impressive range of creativity, from a program that tracks system updates through visual, vibrant colorations as they are implemented across the world, to a program that can search across all of the drives and servers where Signal employees store documentation.
Behind every Shark Week project, there is a Signalite. We will look at the event through the lens of two multi-talented developers: Rich Chang and Zach Rivest. Spoiler alert: Rich and Zach made it to the finals of our ping-pong tournament. We thought it was only fitting that they be recognized for their work both on and off the table. (Stay tuned for the winner…)
No. 1 Seed, Rich Chang
Rich is a developer hailing from Wilmington, Delaware. After interning at Signal before his senior year at Northwestern University, Rich was offered a position to join the development team full-time following graduation in 2014. Last week, when he wasn’t smoking the competition on the ping-pong table, Rich worked on a whopping three projects:
- The first is geared to check system servers while developers are accessing big data. It then auto-selects an available server so no memory is wasted.
- Rich’s second program tracks archived Signal data, and how many employees reference it in their workflow. Ultimately, if there is no business use for certain data over time, deleting it could save space and related expenses.
- And of course, given his ping-pong talents, Rich set up an always-on camera and internal website for Signalites to know whether the ping-pong table is occupied.
No. 2 Seed, Zach Rivest
Zach is another developer/ping-pong extraordinaire in the office, hailing from Naperville, Illinois. When he isn’t coding and enjoying “the buzz of activity” during Shark Week, Zach is known to make a mean walking taco. For his third Shark Week with the company, Zach teamed up with fellow developer Aaron Frey on a project. Aaron is a Janesville, Wisconsin native whose previous job titles include barkeep and hand model.
By the end of the week, the duo created an early warning system for tag outages. This would allow the teams to compare tag fires before and after changes are made. Their program can be implemented soon, and should save both money and time, earning Zach and Aaron a standing ovation from the crowd during their demo.
These are just a sample of the many innovative projects completed during Shark Week. Twice a year, we are all blown away by the creativity and talent that Signalites bring to the table – including the ping pong table.So, how did the big tournament end? Rich beat Zach in the winner’s bracket finals of the Winter Classic, two games to zero. He takes the coveted light-up unicorn trophy from Zach, who won the tournament during the last Shark Week.
Thanks to the Talent and Culture team, the office enjoyed tastes of Wow Bao, The Roost Carolina Chicken, Yolk, Blackwood BBQ and Jet’s Pizza throughout the week. Special thanks as well to Gaby Spartz, our Thursday lunch-and-learn speaker, who shared her experience in the gaming community as a professional Magic The Gathering player.