Staff Spotlight: Ry Blaisdell, Professional Services Engineer

November 5, 2018 by Sam Puckett

More than a handful of folks here at Spatial Networks were Fulcrum users and advocates before they joined our team full-time. We think that speaks to how passionate our customers often are about our app!

Ry made the transition from Fulcrum user to Fulcrum developer earlier this year. Since he works in Texas, we took some time during our recent All Hands week to get to know him a little better!

Ry Blaisdell portrait

Tell us a bit about your background and how you got into this industry.

My first real (i.e. taxes were paid) job was working for a small computer shop that did custom builds in the mid 1990s. That type of business doesn’t really exist anymore but that would be when I first started to try and understand what is this computer thing and how can I make it do things. From there I graduated high school and moved on to not going to college and working various odd jobs on the south coast of Texas, including deckhand on a barge, carpenter’s helper, computer salesperson, etc.

Next up I moved to Austin, TX, where I worked in a sign-making shop called Accurate Sign Graphics, which was run by twin brothers Bill and Bob Balzen. These two taught me how a small business should be run - pay your people well, treat them like family and with respect, have a sense of humor, and be willing to help out no matter the task.

I moved to Seattle and back to Austin before ending up in College Station, TX for a second time (I went to high school there), working in a computer lab for Dr. Douglas K. Loh. It was this lab where I first was introduced to spatial thinking and problem solving; I even got to teach one of his classes on how the GPS system works with extremely precise clocks and radios.

Ry Blaisdell playing pinball
Ry at the Texas State Pinball Festival in Grapevine, TX circa 2009

I began attending Texas A&M university in 2005 and graduated in 2010 with a degree in Environmental Science, and all through college I worked for a demographics consulting firm named Population and Survey Analysts (PASA). While at PASA I leveraged ESRI desktop products, built servers, set up email systems when Google apps was still in free beta, and built backup systems that would probably be laughed at today but worked ok back then.

After graduating I stayed on for another two years with PASA until moving back to Austin in 2012 and starting at TRC Solutions, a multidisciplinary consulting firm. It was at TRC that I was able to bring spatial thinking and solutions (including Fulcrum!) to the entire TRC company while building a small GIS group locally in Austin from one (myself) to five people. That’s how I came to work at SNI.

What does your job entail?

My job at SNI entails helping people help themselves in a lot of ways. Often people only need to be talked through their workflow to see how to best implement a solution in Fulcrum. The Professional Services team works to get the most out of Fulcrum platform for our customers by building solutions for that last mile in their particular use case and oftentimes teaching them how powerful the product can be by taking them on a deeper dive.

What gets you out of bed in the morning?

The sun! I can hardly ever sleep late - so I’m often waking up thinking about a problem I’ve been working on recently or that needs to be worked on. Also coffee, coffee gets me up in the morning.

Ry Blaisdell in a squirrel costume
Squirrel mask with elwire Ry made and wore at "Fun Fun Fun Fest" in Austin, TX circa 2013

What’s the most rewarding part of your job?

I like to hear/see the light go on in a customer’s eyes when they realize the power of our platform. Fulcrum can’t do everything for you - but the things it does are elegantly implemented and the edge-case things individuals might want/need it to do can often be added by the user (or the Pro Services team - and with help of some of our amazing engineers). I love how developer-friendly the platform is.

Getting a good, deep understanding of a client’s fundamental friction in their workflows that we can help make easier is rewarding. I get enjoyment out of knowing that someone doesn’t have to work as hard to get even better results than they got prior to using Fulcrum.

What’s something you’re excited about right now?

Vector tiles! (Just kidding.) I’m excited about the potential for handheld consumer mobile devices to have sub-meter accurate GPS technology in them within, hopefully, the next 1-2 years. That should really help get us past one hurdle in the engineering realm where oftentimes people still need two devices to use Fulcrum to achieve their goals.

What do you do outside of work?

Outside of work I like to tinker in my shop where I have basic wood-working and metal-working tools. I like to work on old cars and am currently in the market for a “new” one to work on as I just sold my last project: a 1991 VW Vanagon that I had worked on for about 8 years off and on, doing all kinds of mechanical upgrades to it to try to make it feel modern. I enjoy long boarding around my neighborhood and in parking garages (when the security guards are off-duty).

Ry Blaisdell in front of a mountain

Ry and his father at Engineer Mountain, between Durango and Silverton CO ~12968 feet, circa 2008

What is something you’d like people to know about you?

I was born at home on a bay front, and as a small child I lived in a sort of Navajo hogan my dad had built into the side of a hill on the property that my parents live on today in Colorado, though I was raised for all my formative years in south and central Texas.

What is your favorite place in the world, and why?

I’d have to say this place:

Ry Blaisdell's family homestead in Colorado

It’s my family’s homestead in Southwest Colorado. It’s peaceful, beautiful, and where my sister Kyla was born.

Want to join Ry on the Spatial Networks team? To learn more about our company and view current openings, visit spatialnetworks.com/company.

Sam

About the author

Sam is the content marketing specialist at Spatial Networks, where she works with the team to bring product and industry news to Fulcrum customers.

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