Owen Nelson

onelson@gmail.com // 941.312.1865

I believe maintainable systems come from developers who have empathy for their peers.

A background in art and design with an emphasis on 3D animation. Professional experience with a variety of languages, frameworks, and databases. I like to work in areas that exercise both sides of the brain; creative problem-solving.

Lately, I enjoy working in Scala (Play Framework, Akka, ScalaFX), Javascript (mainly es6 with React via Webpack/babel), and Python (Django with REST Framework). I have also picked up Rust for some smaller projects and I like it a lot. Rust is pretty great.


Laika, Inc - Hillsboro, OR

Senior Software Engineer August 2013 -- current

Laika has a small software group, which mainly focuses on pipeline tools for animation. When I joined the team, part of the goal was to build more systems to be service oriented rather than being client-focused. I have had the pleasure of leading a number of projects moving us in this direction.

At Laika, I have:

  • Acted as principle engineer on the Digital Big Boards project (suite of tools for desktop and web built with ScalaFX and React, backed by a Django REST Framework microservice).
  • Set up a pipeline for creating new React Single Page Applications, including Jenkins configurations for running tests, and deployment.
  • Mentored the team on frontend development concerns, and Django/Flask patterns.
  • Popped up a series of small traditional (Non-REST) Django apps with template-based frontends, mixed with a little Angular (1).
  • Authored and maintained a REST based client library for interacting with Laika's in-house graph database (Atlas), and later re-implemented the internals to work with a commercial graph db from Datastax.
  • Built custom tooling for the data migration from Atlas to Datastax.
  • Maintained and enhanced a handful of legacy WSGI-based web scripts, ultimately converting them into a trio of Flask applications.
  • Developed "the playbook" and orchestration tooling for deploying and managing web services on Docker, both with and without Swarm.
  • Configured and deployed an ELK Stack (Elasticsearch, Logstash, Kibana) to help monitor and troubleshoot services (now that they are running multi-instance on Docker).
  • In order to promote code reuse, configured and deployed internal package registries for JavaScript, and Python packages.

Quality Distribution, Inc - Tampa, FL

Software Developer (Python, on Google App Engine) November 2011 -- July 2013

At QDI, I was a member of an agile team, who worked on a (Python) App Engine application that aims to replace a wealth of legacy .Net apps which are at the core of the business.

While at Quality, I managed to:

  • Built the foundation of an MVC framework on top of Webapp2, Jinja2, and NDB (Google App Engine's datastore ORM).
  • Developed an NDB entity (de)serialization routines to allow us to use a single pipeline to transfer data from stringly-typed (more or less JSON) structures, to NDB model instances (and back again). The serialization pipeline was later adapted to support SQLAlchemy models as well.
  • Created custom rich interfaces using a combination of jQuery, and LESS.
  • Introduced the team to unit testing, and helped to automate the test/deploy pipeline by installing and configuring Jenkins.

Ringling College of Art and Design - Sarasota, FL

Security Analyst October 2010 -- November 2011

Daily duties are mainly analysis related, looking over logs, maintaining Snort sensors, etc. During this time, I also supported an LMS (Moodle) and built various Python tools and web apps (as needed).

Key duties:

  • Configure/Deploy IDS (Snort) sensors on campus.
  • Monitor Snort alerts and investigate anomalies.
  • Custom tool development for network event analysis and correlation (Python, Django).

HPC Engineer January 2009 -- October 2010

In this role I was responsible for development, maintenance, and support for all distributed render activities.

Key duties:

  • Implemented a brand new render pipeline based on Windows HPC.
  • Maintained a large cluster of nodes using Sun Grid Engine (SGE), CAOS Linux, and Percues.
  • Built render pipeline tools (using Autodesk Maya's Python API) to simplify user interaction with RenderMan, and to detect issues in a user's animation file before dispatching to SGE (aka "the grid").
  • Implemented a web (Django) based frontend for SGE job submission and monitoring.
  • Managing and deployed a number of web applications in apache, lighttpd, and IIS.

JBA Network - Asheville, NC

Application/UI Engineer October 2006 -- January 2009

In this PHP shop, I wore various hats ranging from frontend to backend development.

Key duties:

  • Zend Framework based application design and implementation.
  • Designing/Implementing shared PHP5 APIs for internal projects.
  • (MySQL) Database design.
  • Creating markup, CSS, and JavaScript for static and dynamic web sites.
  • SEO (mostly client-side, markup-related, optimizations).


Ringling School of Art and Design 1999 -- 2004 BFA (Computer Animation).