As a release administrator on Railinc's Infrastructure Services and Support Team, Robert Redd works to make sure the company's applications are working for customers and that developers have the infrastructure they need to do their jobs.
He tweaks automated builds to account for changes developers make to code. He makes sure the automated build system is functioning properly. He creates dashboards for performance and uptime analysis for Railinc systems. And he keeps up with new technologies that can improve the way the company's developers work.
"I'm always learning new things at Railinc," Robert said. "We're always trying out new technologies to see if they fit our goals as a company."
Recently, Robert participated in a beta Jenkins certification initiative and became one of the first Jenkins-certified engineers in the world, earning the CloudBees Jenkins Platform Engineer Certification with the support of Railinc. Jenkins is an open-source continuous integration tool that powers Railinc's automated testing and build systems. Railinc has used the tool since its release in 2011 and used its predecessor, Hudson.
Jenkins Essential to Railinc Development Process
Jenkins is critical to the development process at Railinc. Anytime a developer submits a code change, Jenkins reads the code and immediately begins compiling and testing it. Robert also uses Jenkins to help make developers' jobs easier, automating tasks such as the deployment of applications to development and pre-product environments, the building of queues and the creation of listener ports.
Before Jenkins, Railinc would do a build every three to six months. At the end of a development cycle, Robert said, there would be late nights spent compiling code and looking for errors. Now, we can do builds every two weeks and the tedious tasks that seemed to take forever are automated.
"Jenkins supports the Agile methodology we use here, and it helps immensely with our code quality and speed to market," Robert said.
Training, Professional Development a Hallmark of Railinc Culture
A former tank commander in the U.S. Army, Robert came to Railinc in 2000 as a Java team lead and has also held business analyst and database administrator roles. As he has moved from role to role, he has taken advantage of Railinc training to keep up with technology changes and find new ways to work. You can learn more about Robert in his Careers profile.
"The certification shows how Railinc supports efforts by employees to learn new technologies and even get recognition for their knowledge," Robert said. "We're encouraged to use and test and learn new technologies here, and I get to work with a lot of different tools, which is really fun."
Certifications are just one way Railinc supports its employees' professional growth. It's not unusual to see dozens of employees packed in the company's training room for regular technology training sessions that cover everything from Java to security to data storage.
Most new employees come to Railinc with little knowledge of the freight rail industry. To help give their careers in the industry a kick start, the company provides training that covers railroad industry fundamentals. Railinc even sends groups of employees to CSX's Railroad Education and Development Institute (REDI), where they get a firsthand look at a working rail yard and get to pilot a locomotive simulator, drive a railroad spike and learn about rail safety. Click the image below to view a slideshow highlighting a Railinc visit to CSX REDI.
There are also more personalized resources that supports career development, from online training tools for business and technical skills to a Career Paths program, which helps employees design their own personal action plan for pursuing their career goals. Railinc also offers a generous tuition reimbursement program, which employees have used to pursue advanced degrees like MBAs and to take a one-off course to refresh skills or just learn something new.
"The freight rail industry is constantly changing, as is the technology we use to support it," said Jerry Traynham, Railinc's chief information officer. "These kinds of initiatives and the training and education employees like Robert get help employees reach their career goals and help develop the innovative thinkers we need to serve our customers."
—Railinc Corporate Communications