Connections: My Journey to AWE

 Ryan Feldman, AR Development Engineer, 2017 Hacker Fellows

Ryan Feldman, AR Development Engineer, 2017 Hacker Fellows

Hello, Internet! My name is Ryan Feldman.

I finished my Computer Science degree at Michigan State University in May 2017, so it’s been over a year since I’ve graduated. Since then, I’ve worked at two Michigan start-ups and learned more about software development than I had in my four years of schooling. It’s been a very busy year!

I currently work at a late-stage start-up based out of Wixom, Michigan – Light Guide Systems (OPS-Solutions). We’re an Augmented Reality (AR) software company that provides solutions to a wide variety of industries including industrial manufacturing, aerospace, military defense, medical technology and more. My work is primarily focused on development engineering – figuring out how we can expand our company’s software by interfacing with new hardware and platforms.

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In March 2018, I was given the opportunity to attend an event in Detroit called Manufacturing in America (MIA). Our Chief Technology Officer (CTO), Will Sommerville, suggested I attend to get a better picture of today’s industrial manufacturing technology. This was the first time I was able to attend an industry event as part of a company, and it was here that Will showed me how important it is to know people in “the industry” – whatever industry that might be for you.

 Manufacturing in America 2018, where over 3,200 attendees learned about the newest manufacturing technologies

Manufacturing in America 2018, where over 3,200 attendees learned about the newest manufacturing technologies

While walking the event floor, Will introduced me to a number of companies and people he had met along his career path. They were laughing, talking, catching up – and the entire time I kept wondering to myself how he knew all these people. I was impressed with the sheer number of people he knew or who knew of him from a previous event. All of these people were part of Will’s network, and seeing those interactions made me want to begin expanding my own.

Events like MIA allow people like me, a graduate fresh out of school, to start making those connections early on. Getting connected within an industry allows you to better plan your next career move, stay up-to-date with emerging trends and technologies, and grow your network for the next time you have a question or need a favor.

Something I learned from Hacker Fellows is that you own your own development, that no one’s going to do it for you. And after attending MIA, I knew the next step was to find another event I would be interested in to start expanding my own network.

At the beginning of May 2018, I found out about the 9th annual Augmented World Expo (AWE) being held in Santa Clara, California. I knew attending AWE would be a great opportunity for me as a developer because I would have the chance to connect with other developers and companies in the AR & VR industry. I also thought it could be beneficial for Light Guide Systems to attend as a leader in commercial AR solutions. I really wanted to go, but I had a few problems…

One problem was that registration was closing fast because the event was in three weeks. Another problem was that I had no way of getting there to attend because it was so last minute. I needed help if I was even going to attempt registering, so I decided to bring it up to Will and our CEO, Paul Ryznar.

Paul was very receptive to my suggestion we attend and immediately began reaching out to his connections to see if there was anyway we could get this done. Paul coincidentally knew someone in his network that was part of the Expo’s organizing board. And after sending some emails and making a quick phone call, he was able to secure a spot for Light Guide Systems, and myself, at the Augmented World Expo! Oh, the benefits of connections.

So, it was a done deal – I was on my way to California in just a few weeks. I was excited to show off our company’s technology, pumped to see what was coming in VR & AR, and eager to make connections.


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Ryan Feldman, Michigan State University graduate with a degree in Computer Science. He is working with OPS Solutions. Ryan was part of Hacker Fellows 2017 cohort.