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Recently, Senior Software Engineer Ryan Hendrickson became Clarity’s Director of Innovation. Ryan has 11 years of software engineering experience, and he has been at Clarity since 2015. He is a Software Project Co-Lead, collaborating with a team on complex data challenges. An innovator since childhood, here’s how Ryan got here, and why we’re excited about his guidance as we reach for new frontiers.

Ryan Hendrickson
photo: Tatyana Goldman

I wanted to be part of a small company. I was looking for a place where I could be a significant contributor.”

Ryan Hendrickson, Senior Software Engineer, Director of Innovation

Perhaps he would have traveled to the moon…

As a young child, Ryan wanted to be an astronaut, an archaeologist, or a “computer person” — by fifth grade, when his dad brought home a PC, Ryan had figured out that he wanted to pursue work with computers. “My dad got us a computer, and then I knew I was interested in computer science.”

Programming origins

At his high school in Pittsburgh, Ryan took an impressive selection of programming classes including Visual Basic, Pascal, Java, and C++ (a course he completed at the local community college). During the summers of his junior and senior years, he took part in the Pennsylvania Governor’s Schools of Excellence, a program designed to provide summer enrichment for talented students. Ryan lived at Drexel University for five weeks — “It was a formative experience. We were immersed in the college curriculum and experience, doing hands-on, college-level work. It was amazing.”

“I was always very practical.”

At Robert Morris University, while majoring in software engineering, Ryan dove into relevant, practical extracurricular projects. He was a founding member of the college’s Society of Automotive Engineers — the group built a mini off-road vehicle from the ground up. Ryan and a team with RMU’s Association for Computing Machinery built a robot the size of a small trash can — it could move around a room and map the space. For two summers during college, Ryan worked as a software engineering intern with Boeing. He admits that he was “always very practical.”

First stop: Space City

After graduating, Ryan moved to Houston to work on Johnson Space Center projects. His work contributed to the guidance, navigation, and control system for the International Space System. Ryan eventually moved back to Maryland to get married. In 2015, he began working at Clarity. “I wanted to be part of a small company. I was looking for a place where I could be a significant contributor,” he explains.

Today — still exploring (& sharing)

Ryan says that his current job requires imagination and creativity, and he is open to tackling challenges with foresight and a long-term view.

I like the idea that you have to find a way. It might be difficult, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. You have to take the long game and build up foundationally. Our team is very successful because we work this way… And, we’re constantly looking for ways to increase value for our client and thinking ahead.”

Ryan participates in Data Works MD Meetups where he and his coworkers, Bill and Elli, are presenting on NiFi. Ryan spoke about the capabilities of Apache NiFi at the CodeMash conference in 2019. Ryan gave a NiFi primer when he was the featured guest on the At Scale podcast. He will return to CodeMash in 2020 to give a talk about horizontal scaling of graph databases. He is active in AFCEA’s Central Maryland chapter. In his free time, Ryan likes to spend time with his young family.

In October The Baltimore Business Journal featured Ryan on its list of People on the Move.

Directing innovation & driving improvements

In his new post, Ryan will explore, research, and report on emerging technologies, trends, and methodologies, helping us continue to expand our technical offerings. In addition, he will develop process improvements, driving informed and efficient operations throughout Clarity. “I’d like to identify opportunities within the company to bolster our depth of knowledge to help us win contracts,” he says.

Some patently cool facts about Ryan

  • If he wasn’t a software engineer, Ryan says he’d like to be a medical doctor. “It’s a way to help people, and I’d want a job that helps people.”
  • He enjoys playing hockey and working on his 1966 MGB. Ryan bought the car on eBay a couple of years ago. This fall, he hopes to rebuild its engine.
  • A member of Robert Morris University’s Engineering Board of Advisors, Ryan provides his alma mater with input on curriculum development and technical workforce readiness.
  • Ryan is an inventor, he holds two U.S. patents. Curious? Learn more about those here.
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