TJ Greenier Featured as Guest Lecturer at UMD’s iSchool
Topic: Strengths of Relational Databases and NoSQL Solutions
So many data platforms, so little time... which one should you choose?
Data is everywhere in our lives and storage platforms continually evolve. Presented in March, TJ’s lecture provided an overview and comparison of relational databases and NoSQL solutions. Each has strengths, and choosing the right platform requires consideration of many variables. The talk shared strategies to use in determining the best platform. It provided a technical review of some common relational database options and included a discussion on transitioning to a NoSQL solution. TJ’s lecture covered key decision points in determining which platform is best depending on specific needs.
Through his presentation, TJ reviewed RDBMS options: Oracle, MySQL/MariaDB, and PostgreSQL and mentioned some of the NoSQL options, including MongoDB and ElasticSearch. He talked about RDBMS structure, schema, and transaction qualities. Next, he described how NoSQL allows for thinking about data differently and shared some of the benefits of the NoSQL database. Using MySQL and MongoDB, TJ demonstrated differences in uses of database platforms.
Students enjoyed hands-on examples and a question-and-answer period after TJ’s talk. TJ provided resume and job interviewing advice. The event was a success and an honor, and TJ is working with the iSchool to schedule another guest lecture — topic to be determined.
TJ Greenier has spent his career developing innovative software and technical management programs. He is an expert in agile software development, access and authorization, and auditing/compliance and has a passion for data and application usability. TJ has become an expert in data modeling, direct experience management and transitioning large legacy systems to modern data storage solutions. Most recently, he has worked to transition a large RDMS solution to a highly scalable and adaptable NoSQL solution, leveraging MongoDB and Elastic Stack.
TJ earned a B.S. degree in Computer Engineering from the University of Pittsburgh and his M.B.A. from Pitt at the Joseph M. Katz, Graduate School of Business where he was honored with the Dean’s Outstanding Student Service Award. In 2006, TJ founded Clarity Business Solutions — it became his fulltime occupation in 2011. When he’s not managing or coding, TJ enjoys skiing and mountain biking.
More on UMD iSchool
Located in College Park, the University of Maryland College of Information Studies was founded in 1965. From the institution’s web site: From labs to libraries, we are combining principles of information science with cutting edge technology to foster access to information, improve information interfaces, and expand how information is used in government, education, business, social media, and more. The College is ranked in the top ten nationally by US News and World Report. Visit the web site for more: ischool.umd.edu.
Careers in Tech — Women at Clarity Share Their Stories
Over the last several years, Clarity has grown in big ways. We’ve evolved from a one-person shop in our early start-up days, to a team of many — consulting on a diversity of projects. Our still-small but-mighty team of engineers and technical leads provides insights, solutions, and results every day. We’re exceptionally proud of the innovations we drive and the mission we fulfill.
Women are integral to our growing team. In the last three years, they have made up 33% of our new hires — a number we are working to build upon. In this edition of our Latest News, we’re introducing some of the women at Clarity. Vital to our team, they are advancing all areas of our business. Their tech career journeys speak of creativity, problem solving skills, a desire to contribute to the big picture, and the determination to never stop learning.
Diane enjoys working in a fast-paced environment where deadlines are a way of life. “What we’re doing is really cool and exciting,” she says of her team’s project. With more than 20 years of software development experience, Diane’s ever-growing technical skills include fluency in an impressive array of applications, languages, databases, platforms, frameworks, and standards. As a front-end developer, Diane knows that user experience is critical. She applies her technical skills to ensure smooth and intuitive interfaces and gets great satisfaction receiving positive feedback from clients. Hearing: “I love how this works,” makes Diane most happy about what she does.
It wasn’t always about software development. “I wanted to be a National Geographic photographer,” Diane admits of her childhood dreams. “We had National Geographic subscriptions, so I’d flip through the magazines. I asked my parents for cameras. I knew that’s what I wanted to do.” Before college, aptitude tests led Diane to Computer Science. She had a knack for math and saw the success of her cousins who were working in CS. Diane decided a technical path would be worth pursuing. During her college years, she worked fulltime as a junior programmer to pay her tuition and fees.
With a can-do attitude, April takes on the critical challenge of administering two databases. She manages these behemoths for growth, query efficiency, changing requirements, backups, and more. Creation, migration, and building make up just part of her technical toolbox. April gains immense satisfaction from solving problems, and she takes on the challenges of database engineering with flexibility and determination every day.
“I like to build stuff,” she explains. As a young girl, April enjoyed art and making things with her hands. She worked on circuit boards, Erector Sets, and Lincoln Logs. When she was scheduled to take an elective high school sewing class, April drew a line, telling her mom she didn’t like sewing at all. Instead, the school cautiously placed her in a basic programming class. She was considered too young to master the material, but April thrived in the world of programming and resolved to pursue more technical courses. At UMBC, Computer Science was a natural fit. “I got my first IBM when I got to college,” April recalls. From there, she didn’t turn back, accepting her first development job when Visa’s Owings Mills office launched its development department.
Rachel proved herself an essential Clarity resource even before officially signing on in 2011. Throughout the years, she has been willing to pitch in wherever necessary by seeking the training needed to get the job done. Rachel handles Clarity’s human resource matters, health care benefits, security requirements, accounting, purchasing, company outings, and the much-anticipated annual holiday party. As TJ’s closest advisor in this small business adventure, in countless ways, she has served as a guiding light through periods of growth and change. Everyone at Clarity relies on Rachel for help with any number of administrative matters. With ceaseless adaptability and a positive attitude, she takes care of our team so that our technical work stays in focus.
She wanted to be a teacher. A graduate of Frostburg State University, Rachel originally went to college to specialize in Early Childhood Education. Realizing she preferred Psychology, she switched majors and has since enjoyed practicing the skills she learned in earning her degree. Psychology has been fundamental to Rachel’s role at Clarity, in raising her kids, and as a children’s ski coach for more than 20 years.
Terri has more than 20 years of experience in software development and related fields. She has designed and implemented a variety of applications, programmed in a range of in-demand languages, and developed data models for diverse document collections to support information retrieval and presentation. Her management experience includes leading technical staff and delivering products. Terri is a lecturer with the Engineering Program for Professionals at Johns Hopkins University, teaching the online course, “Biological Databases and Database Tools,” and serving as a faculty advisor for student projects. With her development career well established — because the subject matter intrigued her — in recent years, she pursued and earned a MS in Applied Molecular Biology. Terri also holds a MS and a PMC in Computer Science.
Terri encourages people to consider software development even if they don't have a passion for math. When she chose an area of study in college, Terri became interested in Computer Science. “I wanted to go to a liberal arts college,” she says. “I liked science, but I didn’t like doing labs." She liked math too, but didn't want to be a math major. Computer Science had the right mix of topics and skills needed. Since then, Terri's career has focused primarily on handling data, requiring very little of the math she learned in college.
Bethany serves as Clarity’s Operations Manager. She works closely with the Leadership Team to ensure that day-to-day activities run smoothly and efficiently. She leads company outreach and tech community involvement; works closely with customers, employees, and candidates to assess industry needs and company opportunities; and helps handle human relations, contractual relationships, recruiting, event planning, and marketing. In a nutshell, Bethany helps run all areas of Clarity’s operations and growth. Her enthusiastic involvement and impact on our success is felt every day as the Leadership Team navigates opportunities and challenges.
Her professional journey began with an interest in international travel. “I wanted to travel the world on other people’s money, so I went into International Business,” Bethany reveals. At a liberal arts college where she focused on business classes, concentrating in Marketing and International Business, Bethany enjoyed the well-rounded nature of her studies. A native of Brooklyn, New York, she launched her career in New York City, working in recruitment and development at an international law firm. When life brought her south to Maryland, Bethany worked at law firms in Washington, DC, before migrating to our region’s burgeoning tech industry.
Gina has over 20 years of programming and operations support and leadership experience in the commercial sector. For the last eight-plus years, she has worked on government projects in a software engineering and testing capacity. Her technical expertise is always growing, and she has pursued training opportunities and been enthusiastic about picking up new skills along the way. Known for her customer- and mission-focused approach, Gina is quick to credit others and thankful for the teams and leaders she’s worked with. “There have been a few people who have been very helpful in my development growth,” she explains. Excellent communications skills have made Gina a real asset to the teams she has been part of.
Her favorite subject in school was math, and she liked solving problems. But, when she was little, Gina wanted to be a psychiatrist. In the end, she knew that Computer Science was important to our future, so she studied data processing in college before embarking on a career that soon introduced her to programming, analysis, information systems management, and testing. Today, she is enjoying her software development role and still seeking opportunities to learn.
Sherri Tearman has happily dedicated over 20 years of her career to providing support to government customers. She has contributed to a variety of projects and programs, working in functional testing, usability testing, quality control, instructional design, web design, stakeholder outreach, and user and documentation support. As a Senior Test Engineer, her keen attention to detail and unmatched communication skills provide immense value to her team and the users of the software that it is developing.
“I was so excited to be accepted into the School of Engineering at University of Maryland,” Sherri says of her college years. She had taken aptitude tests that steered her towards the field. Less than two years into her coursework, Sherri took a leap of faith and moved on to pursue a degree in Fashion Merchandising and Child Development. Disenchanted by a short career in retail, Sherri looked for opportunities and pivoted to a job with a consulting firm that had IT clients. Before long, she trained and joined one of their technology teams. Today she most enjoys helping people and contributing to projects that are bringing useful tools and products to life.
#CodeWithUs — Are you a creative problem solver who loves to learn and contribute to critical projects? We’re hiring qualified technical women and men. To learn more about joining Clarity’s team, visit our Careers page or send your resume to email@example.com.
AFCEA Kickstarter Grant buys classroom technology at local elementary school
Content & photo reposted with permission from The Severna Park Voice.
Severna Park Elementary School secured a grant from the AFCEA CMD Education Foundation worth $2,775.40 to go toward STEM materials for the students.
Stacy Langhirt, a first grade teacher at SPES, completed the grant form, which included writing an explanation of why her request should be chosen and provided a list of materials, costs and suppliers.
“To date, we have purchased a BeeBot starter pack (robots for coding), Colby the Mouse (robot for coding for younger students), Snap Circuits light and sound kits, Lego Simple and Motorized Mechanisms building set, and Engino building sets,” Langhirt wrote in an email. “Each grade level will be getting at least one kit to share that promotes STEM and problem solving.”
See the original post announcing this great community news on The Voice Facebook page.
TJ Greenier serves on the selection committee for AFCEA's Central Maryland STEM Kickstarter grant program. He works with local schools to promote STEM education.
Start Now On Wellness — Our new team wellness effort is off to a great start!
We have launched a collaborative Wellness Initiative to kick off 2018 — where we share, encourage, and maybe compete, just a little as we try out wellness activities for the body, mind, and soul.
Through Start Now On Wellness (S.N.O.W.), team members have been sharing their activities and accomplishments with enthusiasm. We have enjoyed ice hockey, snowshoeing, and skiing photos from some of our proud Pennsylvanians. Others have shared news of their runs, gym workouts, trail walks, reading, and volunteer activities.
S.N.O.W. is a contest, and it is designed to be completely voluntary and fun with no judgment or metric reporting. Every month through March (and maybe beyond), we will conduct a prize drawing for those who have shared their endeavors.
To celebrate and appreciate all of our employees, we have also added a fitness membership benefit to our employee package — a monthly reimbursement towards our employees’ investment in wellness. 2018 is off to a healthy start at Clarity!
We were pleased to donate to Toys for Tots this season!
Elmo and Legos and Board Games, oh my! Our December Toys for Tots collection was a major success. We are happy to bring joy to local children this holiday season because of the kindness and generosity of our team. A variety of fun items were donated—thank you all!
Diving into the Elastic Stack @ November’s Data Science MD Meetup
Clarity’s Mike Clarke (Senior DevOps Engineer) and Mike Keith (Principal Software Engineer) presented at the November Data Science Meetup.
They engaged a large crowd with their talk, “Advancing the ELK Stack-It’s more than just log aggregation.” Representatives from Elastic were there to make the evening even more informative.
Congratulations to Mike Clarke and Mike Keith, they make us proud!
View slides from the presentation
More information about Data Science MD Meetups
We are active in Data Science Meetups and proudly sponsor this local effort. Monthly gatherings are a great opportunity to learn, share, and network. Find out more about this unique opportunity: meetup.com/Data-Science-MD.
More about Elastic
Here’s an interesting article about the just-released Elastic 6.o : http://www.zdnet.com/article/elasticsearch-6-0-not-that-new-but-quite-improved/.
Meet “the Mikes,” Clarity data scientists
Clarity’s Mike Clarke (Senior DevOps Engineer) and Mike Keith (Principal Software Engineer) are presenting at the November Data Science Meetup, 11/8, at BrainTrust in Annapolis Junction.
Their talk, “Advancing the ELK Stack-It’s more than just log aggregation,” will dive into the ELK stack and share the evolution of a data platform. The Mikes will cover approach, key lessons, the cool visualization features of Kibana, and more.
Mike Clarke and Mike Keith make us proud—learn more about their commitment, smart, flexible thinking, and creativity.
HOW THE MIKES GOT HERE
From Electrical Engineering to DevOps (& Stand up paddleboarding)
Mike Clarke holds BS and MS degrees in Electrical Engineering. His background is in computational electromagnetics and 4G LTE technologies. He has more than 12 years of experience serving as a Lead Engineer and Systems Engineer. Mike has been involved in conceptualizing solutions to meet requirements through designing, implementing, and testing the solution. He has experience performing trade-off analyses. Mike is currently working on automating the management of cloud instances using Ansible, scaling the ELK stack to handle increasing volumes of data, streamlining integration and deployment strategies. He joined Clarity in May 2016. In his free time, he enjoys stand up paddleboarding, soccer, skiing, and chasing his two daughters around.
Chemistry was fun but not forever
Mike Keith has worked in software development for 16 years. As early as age 10, he was writing programs in BASIC on his parents 286 computer. He realized in high school that software development might become his career. While taking an AP Chemistry course he knew that he had an interest in science but had no desire to decant fluids all day long and would much rather be play with computers.
“I particularly enjoy problem solving and creating things. Software development provides a lot of both of those things,” Mike K. explained.
Problem-solver’s career path
Mike Keith began his career as an Air Force Communications Officer from 2001 to 2005. He transitioned into civilian work and has provided Software and IT support to Government and Industry clients ever since. He has served as a Team Lead and Lead Software Engineer on various projects with responsibilities spanning all areas of the development lifecycle. His attention to detail and commitment has helped provide clean and concise solutions to complex problems.
Mike has been with Clarity since March 2015. He holds a BS degree and a MS degree in Computer Science. In his spare time he enjoys mountain biking and all the things you do with a two and seven year old.
Mike & Mike began working with Elastic and Kibana in early 2017 because it provided a base of tools to help them address their data search needs. Their presentation will discuss their transition of a high volume legacy RDBMS system, with constant report query requests and high query volume into a slick and streamlined solution using Elastic and Kibana.
When & where
Wednesday , 11/8
6:30 pm networking
7 pm presentation
BrainTrust at 420 National Business Parkway, Annapolis Junction.
The event is sold out, but there is a waitlist, learn more: meetup.com/Data-Science-MD
We are active in Data Science Meetups and proudly sponsor this local effort. Monthly gatherings are a great opportunity to learn, share, and network.
Third Annual Clarity Cup: a speedway race
A few years ago, we started a fall tradition, a Clarity outing to The Autobahn Indoor Speedway in Jessup. In a friendly and fast competition, we race around the track in electric go-karts. After three rounds, one of us is declared the winner of The Clarity Cup. Congratulations to Joe White who won the contest this year.
Sunset Cruise on The Woodwind
Annapolis is among the world’s most renowned sailing cities. This September, our team embarked from its harbor on The Woodwind—a 74-foot wooden schooner. We set sail for an evening cruise on the waters of the Chesapeake. Everyone enjoyed light refreshments, conversation, and even the chance to hoist sails and man the wheel. Captain Mickey and his crew made us feel very welcome, and the sunset was spectacular! Here are some photos from our memorable evening.
Clarity selected as a Baltimore Business Journal Best Places to Work 2017 Finalist
This spring, our team competed in the Baltimore Business Journal (BBJ) “Best Places to Work” contest. We had 100% participation—huge thanks to all of our employees for taking the time to answer questions about their experience working at Clarity. Each business that entered was scored from 0 to 100 based on employee responses to questions about their workplace. Clarity ranked in the top 10 in our size category, “Micro” (10 to 24 employees). The results showed engagement from all of our employees, who view their experience at Clarity as positive.
Our workplace described
The word that was most chosen to describe our work environment was challenging—in the best way. Our employees work on interesting projects that require analytical thinking, flexibility, and the ability to meet deadlines. Growth and development are part of the job. In that vein, engaging was also highly selected to describe our workplace. Other descriptors of note: interesting, supportive, and valued. In every survey completed, employees said that senior leaders at Clarity value people as most important to the success of the company.
Our culture is celebrated. We received 47 employee comments from the contest survey—all of them were positive. Here’s some of what our employees say about us:
“Clarity is a great organization. I am respected, encouraged, and valued each and every day. Feedback is provided often, and the opportunities for growth are endless. T.J. (the leader of the organization) is generous, kind, and down-to-earth. There is no bureaucracy, and employees come first…compensation and benefits are top-notch.”
“It is great to work among such talented people led by awesome owners who really care about their employees and continuously do things to remind them how much they’re appreciated.”
“I value the approach that Clarity looks for the right people with the right skills who have core values that align with the company’s as opposed to just filling a position with a body.”
“I think the company does a good job of making me feel like I’m a part of a community even though we all work in many different locations.”
“The Clarity team is more than just…your place of work or your employer. The team atmosphere is built like a way of life—The Clarity way… We work hard and we play harder. A brand that is built around a work ethic, a work ethic that prides itself in going where, when, and how it is needed to get the job done. I’m proud to say that I’m part of the Clarity team.”
“It is great to work among such talented people led by awesome owners who really care about their employees and continuously do things to remind them how much they’re appreciated.”
“I feel great about being part of Clarity. I don’t feel like a number, they treat all of their employees very well and as individuals, not just a group of employees. They get to know all their employees and consistently make sure they are happy. They went out of their way when I was trying to move positions and never held any information back. I was given many choices. They are proactive in trying to keep all the employees trained and their skills relevant to new technologies. I am always being asked if there are classes I want to take. It’s a company culture I try to let everyone know about.”
“I enjoy being part of the Clarity team. Being a small business I feel more connected to the team, and you don’t feel like just a number like you do with larger companies. I also like that other employees are always willing to help and collaborate even if they are working on a different project. All the employees are very knowledgeable and that they are selective with who they hire and want to make sure that the person is not only a good fit for a position but also with the company culture.”
“I feel that Clarity welcomed me as a valuable member of their team rather than the next employee in line. Their benefits package is outstanding, and there are numerous company outings to baseball games, go-karting, and even sailing! Everyone at the company has been very friendly and personable. It really has been a joy working for Clarity for the last couple years.”
Employees expressed full trust in leadership and feel favorable about communication and resources, having individual needs met, manager effectiveness, personal engagement, and team dynamics. We received high scores as a workplace in all areas.
In these five, our scores were perfect:
- I am proud to work here.
- The senior leaders of the organization value people as their most important resource.
- The senior leaders of the organization demonstrate integrity.
- Everyone here is treated fairly regardless of race, gender, age, ethnic background, disability, sexual orientation or other differences.
- The people I work with treat each other with respect.
Join us at the Talent Fair & Food Truck Roundup for Local Tech Jobs, Food, & Music
We hope you'll join us at the Third Annual Gateway Talent Fair and Food Truck Roundup to talk tech jobs with our growing small business.
When & Where
It's happening Wednesday, September 13, 3 until 6 pm at ADG Creative 7151 Columbia Gateway Drive, Suite B, Columbia, MD 21026.
Tech Job Opportunities
At last year's Fair, we were among 26 local companies from the Intelligence Community and beyond that met with job candidates. Bring your resume, questions, and career plans. We are actively recruiting Software Engineers at all levels, Senior Systems Engineers, Devops Engineers, and System Administrators. (See our Careers page for more details.)
Rain date is Thursday, September 14, same timing.
Follow us on Twitter @claritybizsol for any last minute details.
Get Excited, Here's More About Us...
We are tech service experts
Clarity Business Solutions, Inc. is an in-demand small business providing technical consulting and engineering support to government and commercial clients in the Annapolis Junction/Ft. Meade, MD area. We provide practical Software Engineering and Technical Management services. Our work is primarily Java-based and/or web application development that spans all aspects of the software development lifecycle. We specialize in Cloud Analytics and Big Data.
Our retention rate is remarkable
Clarity offers our employees unique opportunities to be part of highly skilled software development teams. We encourage personnel to contribute ideas and grow through engaging and challenging assignments and projects. With a remarkable retention rate of nearly 100%, we have become experts at keeping both clients and employees happy at work, valuing innovation and teamwork.
Clarity is growing
We are looking for solid Software Engineers, System Administrators, and Systems Engineers to join our team. A perfect candidate for our organization will be an energetic self-starter, focused on working with a team of engineers to deliver cutting edge technical solutions. We look forward to meeting you! Connect with us via social media — @claritybizsol on Twitter and Instagram — to see what we are up to.