Radiant at 30 – Staff Stories: Play Ball!

Alex Usher
Alex Usher, Software Build Engineer III

Alex Usher joined the company in 2011 when we were Radiant Zemax and had just begun building out additional space in the Redmond Novelty Hill location.

I joined Radiant in December 2011, so I recently had my 10-year anniversary. Of course, Radiant was a lot smaller back then with just a handful of people on the development team.

Take Me Out to the Ball Game…

I found out about the job from one of my college softball teammates who was working here at the time. Radiant had a softball team, so we joked that she only recommended me for the job to bolster the team. It was not uncommon for candidates to be asked in an interview if they played softball!

We would go to the park across the street and have a barbeque, then play a slow pitch game. Paul Carragher [then CEO] went to Michigan State and Doug Kreysar [current CEO] went to University of Michigan, which are big sports rivals. Paul and Doug were typically captains of the two teams and competition was fierce! For a while we had a company team that played other local slow pitch teams—we called ourselves Semi Calibrated Chaos.

Radiant softball team

Radiant’s slow pitch softball team Semi Calibrated Chaos after a game, 2014.

...and Other Sports

I started as an application engineer on the support team, along with a lot of people fresh out of college—we’d often walk on nearby trails or play volleyball or Frisbee in the park. It was fun up on the hill! 

There was a lot of construction going on to expand our space and build out the first cleanroom. For a while the whole support team was packed into one conference room. Before they put in all the cubicles, it was just a big open space and Ron [Rykowski] brought in a big-wheel scooter—we took turns riding around!

Alex on the scooter

An “action shot” of Alex riding Ron’s scooter in the brand-new office space.

An Evolving Role

My responsibilities have changed with the growth of the company. I went from doing manual builds to managing a fully automated build system that development engineers put together. It’s cool to see all the changes over the last 10 years as we’ve incorporated newer technologies and dev tools, added a product management focus, and developed more mature processes like “DevOps.” It’s also cool to see the growth of the different dev groups—at first it was just five guys in cubicles, and now we’ve got almost an entire floor of developers and engineers.

Memorable Events

There have been so many outings and parties over the years. We went to a Sounders [Seattle Sounders FC] game once, and some [Seattle] Mariners games. When I started, we just did a holiday lunch at a local restaurant. As the company’s gotten bigger so have the events. 

At one holiday party—the first event where they gave us drink tickets, I remember—Doug started talking in a Southern accent and kept it up for the rest of the evening!

Moving to 67th Court 

It was exciting when we moved from the Ridge to the current building closer to downtown Redmond. The Ridge was nice, but it was pretty far away from everything—a lot of people were happy to cut time off their commute. It’s exciting to have our own building with two stories, built out specifically for Radiant’s needs.


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