Brian J. Kutsop | Software Developer
Epic Systems Corporation
Madison, Wisconsin area
Department: Release Team
Education: B.S. Computer Science, Minor Business for Engineers, 2014, and M.E. Computer Science, 2015, Cornell University
Career stage: Early—3 years post Bachelor’s
What He Does
At Epic, Brian is a software developer on the release team, which is involved with the work associated with deploying software releases. His primary responsibility is developing tools that allow system and database administrators to install Epic products on their company’s servers and create the infrastructure necessary to update potentially thousands of machines. The team also works on algorithms for performing data conversions, determining dependencies between software updates, and engineering ways to shift time-consuming installation processes to fall outside of the required inoperative duration. The healthcare organizations that rely on Epic’s software function 24/7, so Brian and his team must do everything in their power to ensure such updates and installations cause as little downtime as possible so that patient care and patient’s lives are not affected. This is what makes the job so meaningful.
Necessary Job Skills
Computational science and applied mathematics are important both to Brian’s individual job and to the industry as a whole. In order to reduce customer downtimes, Brian’s team must understand the algorithms being used to perform upgrades and data conversions, analyze these algorithms and new processes for potential performance bottlenecks, and work toward creating more efficient and reliable systems. They must have a good understanding of security fundamentals like cryptography, data integrity, and authentication, in order to ensure systems are properly secured and not prone to attacks.
The Epic company culture provides a bolstering and understanding atmosphere. When the opportunity for a new, exciting, and high-priority project came his way, Brian committed to dedicating a lot more time to work to see the project through to fruition, which he feels is often necessary if you really want to push yourself to doing the next great thing.
Brian knew he wanted to be in a profession that would make a significant impact in the world, and he saw chemical engineering as the door that could lead him to helping make the next pharmaceutical breakthrough or assisting to revolutionize the energy industry. After interning at Shell and GE, and taking some computer science courses and thoroughly enjoying them, he realized the software industry moved at a much faster pace and better fit his personal drive to see rapid innovation and improvement. Moreover, when he discovered Epic in the electronic medical records industry, he became confident that he could still make a big difference in people’s lives by improving healthcare.
Learn to communicate! Your ideas will not help many people if you cannot share them. And the more you talk with different individuals, the more opportunities you will find, and the more you will be inspired by other ideas and brilliant co-workers hoping to make the same difference in the world as you.
Career Expectations and Advice
“Knowing an important end goal is a huge motivator.”
Get practical industry experience early through internships and job opportunities! The real world can be quite different than the idealistic academic world. For example, developing at a large company with many integrated and well-established products, you must constantly be thinking about how you could inadvertently break functionality for a feature on another team, or how you must be backwards-compatible with a customer on an older version of the software. Industry experience significantly pushed my decision to move from chemical engineering to computer science, and even for those who plan on staying in academia, it can reveal what practical applications can benefit from innovative research. Knowing an important end goal is a huge motivator.
Typical salaries for software developers early in their careers range from $80,000–$120,000 per year. This can grow towards $120,000–$150,000 as you prove yourself, begin leading projects, and have a key role in large, more important, and more complex projects.
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