University of Maryland Students: Meet EC!
Are you a student at the University of Maryland thinking about your career? We’d love to meet you!
Deanna Hess, EC’s Human Resources Manager, will be available to meet with students on April 16 at UCC – 3100 Hornbake Library as part of UM’s Employer-in-Residence Program.
Deanna has an extensive background in human resources and is an expert in providing one-on-one career advice to those who are just entering the career workforce. She would love to meet with you to look over your resume, help you practice your interviewing skills, learn more about careers in technology, or get advice on job searching techniques. The topics are completely up to you, and no career topic is off-limits (“Trust me,” Deanna says, “I’ve heard it all!”).
This program is offered by the University of Maryland Career Center. For more information and to register, please visit the UM Career Center website.
We recently announced Evans & Chambers Technology’s 10-year anniversary, and decided that our logo needed a special facelift for the occassion. We batted around a few ideas and concepts, but ultimately decided to pursue a design that was simple, professional, and consistent with our existing branding.
We worked with an awesome designer, Jason Paul at Trasaterra. He designed our regular company logo, so we knew he’d be the perfect guy to create our anniversary logo.
We knew we wanted the logo to include the word “celebrate,” somehow. It’s a positive word that not only reflects the way we feel, but also speaks to the way that we value fun. We also knew we wanted to use one of our existing typefaces in the logo to keep it clean and sophisticated. Jason showed us how the logo typefaces could work together without competing – using initial case on the tagline “celebrating 10 years” gives enough contrast to the all-caps logo without overpowering. Incorporating our regular logo into the special design ensured that our branding remained consistent and recognizable.
And to create a good sense of cohesion between the logo elements, we added a horizontal bar between the main logo and the tagline. This serves to solidify the layout, making for a strong “lockup,” or final logo form.
So, here is the final result:
What do you think? Let us know in the comments!
Here at Evans & Chambers, we really value the things that our employees value, including the ways in which they like to give back to their communities.
With that in mind, our EC Cares program was developed to invite employees to nominate the philanthropic organizations that mean the most to them, and to which EC can donate its resources.
Here are a few contributions that EC made in 2012:
Patrick Henry Family Services: Patrick Henry provides children’s homes and counseling services. We donated interview clothing and gift cards to youth that are transitioning from family services into new careers and apprenticeships.
Multiple Sclerosis Society: The Multiple Sclerosis Society “helps people affected by MS by funding cutting-edge research, driving change through advocacy, facilitating professional education, and providing programs and services that help people with MS and their families move their lives forward.”
Equal Footing Foundation: EC’s sponsorship and participation in the Run! Geek! Run! 8K race event benefitted the Equal Footing Foundation, which fosters youth education and development, empowering students in the Northern Virginia area to shape their professional and technical skills and teaching them to be leaders in their communities.
US FIRST: FIRST is a non-profit public charity whose mission is “to inspire young people to be science and technology leaders, by engaging them in exciting mentor-based programs that build science, engineering, and technology skills, that inspire innovation, and that foster well-rounded life capabilities including self-confidence, communication, and leadership.”
What’s in a Name?
Java was developed by Sun Microsystems in the early 1990′s as a system for professional, skilled programmers to develop application software.
There were other implementations of the same or similar language, however. Microsoft was developing Internet Explorer as a competitor to Netscape Navigator, and they dubbed their dialect of the language “JScript” in order to avoid trademark issues.
It’s Our Birthday!
It’s hard to believe that Evans & Chambers Technology is crossing the 10-year milestone! That’s right, it’s been 10 years since Jamil Evans & Andre Chambers first met and discovered a common desire to create impactful websites for local businesses! EC officially started business on 1/1/2003, under the moniker “Evans & Chambers Internet Consultants.”
Shortly after landing its first job – building a website for a commercial furnishings company – EC expanded into the Federal Government market, winning our first contract with General Dynamics. We earned our 8(a) certification in 2006, which drastically increased our competitiveness in the Federal marketplace.
Since then, EC has provided specialized IT services to commercial and Government customers alike.
Public vs. Private Agility
The way an IT project is managed can determine whether deployment happens on time, within budget, and with its expected functionality. IT projects can be risky and incur cost overruns and schedule slippages, but a well-run project minimizes these issues. The Agile Methodology isn’t the only management method, but it’s increasingly becoming the preferred approach to IT acquisition for buyers in both the private and public sectors.
The most differentiating feature of the Agile method is the development of incremental pieces of system functionality in defined “sprints,” all the while collecting regular customer feedback. During the development phase, an Agile team will probably collaborate daily and will work together to solve problems.
The method, sometimes resembling more of a philosophy than a process-driven approach, calls for shortened delivery lead times and has four distinct principles:
- Value individuals and interactions over processes and tools.
- Value working software over documentation.
- Value customer collaboration over contract negotiation.
- Value response to change over following a plan.
Across both public and private sectors, use of this method is generally increasing.
A recent State of Agile Development Survey was conducted by VersionOne. This software company polled Project Managers, Developers, Team Leads, and other IT staff from a variety of organizations. 60% of repondents reported that their projects use the Agile methodology, and 80% responded that their organizations as a whole have adopted the methods. 84% indicated that implementing Agile improved their ability to manage changing priorities.
Respondents also identified a few barriers to Agile Adoption: That it requires a change in organizational culture, personnel with the right skills, management support, and is sometimes prohibited by project complexity.
In the public sector, unique challenges emerge, as reported by a recent study published by the United States Government Accountability Office (GAO). Officials from the Department of Commerce, Department of Defense, Department of Veterans Affairs, Internal Revenue Service, and National Aeronautics and Space Administration identified these major challenges to Federal Agile adoption:
- Team culture makes it difficult for the team to collaborate and transition to self-directed work.
- Agencies had trouble committing staff to more timely and frequent input.
- Technical environments were difficult to establish and maintain.
- Procurement practices do not support the flexibility required by Agile.
- Federal oversight bodies want status reports and statistics at waterfall-based intervals, which may not align with Agile’s delivery of demonstrations of working software.
The same respondents identified several effective Agile practices:
- Start with Agile guidance and an agile adoption strategy.
- Continuously improve Agile adoption at both project and organization levels.
- Seek to identify and address impediments at the organization and project levels.
- Obtain stakeholder/customer feedback frequently and closely.
- Empower small, cross-functional teams.
- Gain trust by demonstrating value at the end of each iteration.
- Track progress daily and visibly.
What is your experience with Agile Methods? Have you been a team member of successful or unsuccessful Agile teams? Tell us your tale in the comments!
Web Design with Twitter Bootstrap
Bootstrap was developed by Mark Otto and Jacob Thornton at Twitter as a framework to encourage consistency across internal tools. According to the Twitter Developer’s Blog:
In the earlier days of Twitter, engineers used almost any library they were familiar with to meet front-end requirements. Inconsistencies among the individual applications made it difficult to scale and maintain them. Bootstrap began as an answer to these challenges and quickly accelerated during Twitter’s first Hackweek.
Here’s what a couple of our own developers had to say about Bootstrap:
“I’m having some issues between some of the css files overriding each other (in Firefox, bootstrap loads first, but in IE bootstrap-responsive loads first) and they have conflicting values, but overall it seems really nice.”
“I found it easy to integrate, and a lot of fun to use. Highly recommended as a starting point for application development.”
Countless commercial organizations are using Bootstrap to create their sites. Even government agencies have adapted it too: NASA used it to create code.NASA, the agency’s forum for discussing open source creations and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency used Bootstrap to build its unclassified app store.
Geeks Conquer 8K Race
One of the great things about working for Evans & Chambers Technology is that we know how important life balance is to our employer. EC even offers a health and fitness benefit to make sure that employees have an opportunity to improve our health by reimbursing us for our gym memberships and sporting activities. So, naturally, our team members were eager to get a little competitive with each other last week at the Run! Geek! Run! 8k race.
To further promote its focus on a healthy workplace, EC even sponsored the race, which supports the Equal Footing Foundation.
The team that sweats together stays together, or, at least, gets to know each other pretty well. Here’s what we learned about the members of our team:
✓ Andre is pretty competitive, especially against himself.
✓ Laura likes a good practical joke – she texted me to tell me she had just woken up and asked if I’d wait for her. 5 minutes later, she’s at my side, giggling about her trick.
✓ Brian’s the fastest runner of our group, and has great taste in shoes!
✓ Nicole made us all laugh with her geeky get-up, suspenders and all.
✓ Jamil is a good strategist, employing the ever-effective “alternating run/walk” strategy to achieve his goal.
✓ This was Deanna’s first race! She was pretty excited to challenge herself in a new way.
Post-race, things got a little geeky. We donned our geek glasses and buttons, and, digging into some water, bananas, and baked goods, we exchanged our personal war stories with the course and our bodies. We were all smiles as we posed for a post-race team photo, and we nailed that often-elusive “everybody jump in the air at the same time and look good doing it” photo.
In the end, we each finished the race healthy and strong and our team ranked 15 of 21 other sponsor teams. We each walked away with the camaraderie of a spirited accomplishment and vows to return for next year’s race!
Run! Geek! Run!
We sometimes hear this pesky stereotype floating around that developers are unhealthy. We do have desk jobs, but just because we’re developers doesn’t mean we don’t care about our health – that’s why we were so excited to learn about Run! Geek! Run!, an annual 8k race in Washington, DC. So excited, in fact, we decided to sponsor it. It’s a true win-win – all proceeds support the Equal Footing Foundation, a nonprofit focused on youth development and education in technology, plus we can get our team out from behind their desks and sprinting through the fresh air! We can’t think of a better way to support our future technology leaders than by lacing up our running (and walking!) shoes to support this great cause as a team.
A few members of our group are avid runners, but just as many of us are real, real new to the sport. So for some of us, this is a personal challenge. But that’s what we’re all about at EC – changing the status quo.
Want to lace up your running or walking shoes and join us? Register for the race and look for us afterwards – we’ll have a special treat for anyone that stops by to say hello!
All this – and we can cook!
The Evans & Chambers Technology crew met up last week for a friendly cooking competition, courtesy of the folks at Cookology. Cookology offers cooking classes for individuals and unique team-building experiences. The group is divided into two teams, and in an “Iron Chef-style challenge, each team is given a mystery basket of ingredients, [which must be used to create two dishes] using creativity and communication.”
After being welcomed at Cookology with an array of starters and some wine, we divided into two teams – a “chicken” team and a “beef” team. We donned our chef hats, and, with the help of professional chefs, each team was challenged to create an entree using the meat items, plus side dishes and a dessert using ingredients from a seemingly inexhaustible pantry and fridge. After 15 minutes of brainstorming, we had 45 minutes to prepare and plate our dishes.
We discovered that we had quite a few budding chefs on hand – our Program Manager, Mary, has worked in the catering business and had tons of ideas to contribute to her “beef” team. She made sure that sauteed mushrooms in a wine sauce topped the steak. Meanwhile, Jamil grilled the Filet Mignon to absolute perfection, learning some skills along the way that he plans to use at home. Our Database Administrator, Mark, prepared a salad as the perfect accompaniment to the meal.
Over on the chicken team, participants were busy stuffing chicken breasts with goat cheese and blackberries. Our chief operating officer, Andre, sauteed a spinach-garlic-olive oil side dish before assisting other team members. Meanwhile, Deanna, our recruiter, utilized the help of the professional chef to make a Portobello mushroom ristotto, a dish she’s always wanted to learn. EC’s resident systems analyst whipped up a blackberry sauce to tie each element together. To end the meal, software engineer Laura designed a decadent dessert that practically made history and would satisfy even the strongest sweet tooth! Her creme brulee was topped with sugar on top of sugar, then liquor for good measure. Deanna praised the dessert as a “puckering-ly sweet sugar explosion.”
As everyone fell into their roles, our team worked busily to impress the judges, tossing a few good-natured competitive comments along the way. At the final judging, the beef team won, but the real prize was sitting down to enjoy the meal that we created! Bon Apetite!
As a prize, the beef team members all received an apron that says, “All this, and I can cook!” which is something we’d say about each EC team member.