An Interview with Jason Shaw, Software Engineer – Infrastructure, Indica Labs

Jason Shaw
Software Engineer – Infrastructure, Indica Labs

What field did you study at Michigan State University and how did your schooling prepare you for what you do today?
I studied computer engineering which walks the line between low level software and hardware design. It gave me some great insight into how the code we write translates to the actual circuitry of processors it runs on. 

How did you become interested in computer science and why did you decide to make it your career? 
I’ve always been interested in science fiction and daydreaming of where technology will take us. It just seemed like the career to be in if you wanted to help make the future portrayed by sci-fi a reality. 

How did you find your way to digital pathology within the larger software engineering field? 
Like most things in my life, I stumbled into it. I was looking for a career change and wanted to work on something I felt benefitted others. My wife, a medical doctor who had really enjoyed pathology in med school, had noticed the job description and suggested I apply. And it really has been a great fit for me. I don’t have the medical knowledge to fight diseases like cancer but I’m able to help provide the tools to the researchers that do. 

Tell us about your role at Indica Labs and how it has evolved over the years. 
I was hired in as a developer but with my experience with Agile/ Scrum I started running some of the team meetings. I also mentor some of our new hires, which I really enjoy. 

What types of projects does the infrastructure team work on and what appeals to you about the challenges that these projects pose? 
The infrastructure team does a few things but primarily provides the application programming interface (API) for our products. We’re the keepers of the data. If any of our other products want data, they request it through the APIs we provide. I like this as it really makes you think about things on scale. The APIs need to be flexible enough for an installation of just one user on a single computer to a cloud deployment capable of supporting so many more users. I really like the problem solving that comes along with supporting the range of environments. 

How does your role leverage your expertise in software development? 
My initial jobs in software were in the test automation realm. I would find bugs and then automate tests to prevent them from reoccurring. Because of this I’ve seen a lot of bad software practices/ patterns and edge cases. I know some quirky issues to look out for and call them out when working with the team. 

How does working in software development at Indica Labs compare to your prior experiences? 
My job at Indica Labs is much more rewarding than previous places I’ve worked. Seeing our products being called out as tools used in research papers is inspiring to me.

What project are you most proud of contributing to at Indica? 
Not a project per se but keeping communication with non-developer teams open and active. We have recurring meetings to discuss new features and feature changes with them and incorporate their feedback. They run into a lot of scenarios we haven’t considered and so it helps the developers write more agile code and better tooling. 

What do you appreciate most about working at Indica Labs? 
There’s great cross-team collaboration on the implementation of solutions and new features. This really helps make a better product and an engaging work environment.

How do you spend your time outside of work, and do you have any exciting plans this year? 
I used to be a big movie buff and music fan, but that’s dialed back a bit in recent years. Lately my interest has been in woodworking, but I haven’t quite taken the dive into it as full-on hobby yet. My wife and I are expecting our first child, so there’s going to be a lot of firsts this year. 

Are there any causes or charities you’d like to give a shout-out? 
I usually participate in Light the Night as I’ve lost family to leukemia. Enabling/ funding research to prevent others from losing their loved ones the same way is important to me. 

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