Who is building Delaware’s innovation future? We will tell you.
When Technically first launched the RealLIST Engineers in Delaware 2020, intended to showcase the most influential technologists in the state, there were discussions about how we define an “engineer.” We knew the winners would be problem solvers, community leaders, and ultimately software and IT professionals. Fintech, of course, would be well represented on the inaugural list, but we would also seek to include bootcamp leaders and civic tech professionals. In 2021, we’ve opened it up a bit to include STEM engineers working in some of Delaware’s growing industries, including green tech and health tech.
This year, as the technology industry continues to grow in Delaware, we are once again focusing on software developers and technology leaders who live and/or work in Delaware, with a few less traditional roles mixed in.
As always, the search for our RealLIST 2022 engineers began with a public call for applications. Then we consulted technologists — thanks to Ben Garvey and Antoine Putignano for their anonymous review of names – and looked back through our own cover. We looked at how the person in mind was influential within their organization and community, how they overcame a specific technical challenge, and how they helped educate others on technical issues.
Now, in alphabetical order, here are Technical.ly’s RealLIST 2022 engineers for Delaware:
Tenny Agustin, Engineering Operations Manager, Best Egg
This Wilmington ZIP Code grad was the first from the coding bootcamp to be hired by Best Egg, a fast-growing fintech startup located in North Wilmington. The company culture suited Agustin, who rose through the ranks at the company to take on a leadership role, mentoring junior engineers and helping establish Best Egg’s LGBTQ employee resource group along the way.
“I can do things behind the scenes, a lot of things that I didn’t really enjoy just being a developer,” Agustin told Technical.ly in August. “I can help form processes and protocols, etc., so I can make sure our engineers are successful and deliver quality code before it reaches the masses.”
Deanna Bledsoe, CIO at the Delaware Office of State Treasury and founder of Kai Coders
Bledsoe began using his software development skills to teach children when schools and after-school activities went virtual due to the COVID-19 pandemic. What started as a fun way for members of her daughter’s Girl Scout troop to earn badges during remote meetings has turned into a business teaching coding from her home in Hockessin.
Now that schools have reopened, Bledsoe has added in-person community outreach events to Kai Coders offerings, including classroom lessons.
“I do a lesson, then within 15 minutes we code, and at the end of that hour you’ll have something to show your friends or family,” Bledsoe told Technical.ly in July.
Ishet Dhar, Chief Digital Officer at M&T Bank
Delaware is a core market for M&T Bank, and its commitment to prioritizing technology, both as a business and in its service, was underscored in August when it hired its first Chief Digital Officer, Dhar , former vice president of consumer digital delivery for Bank of America.
The Wilmington-based position is just one that helps bolster Delaware’s fintech commitment.
“It’s basically a huge opportunity to power the bank’s digital transformation and deliver a more comprehensive and seamless digital experience to our customers,” Dhar told Technical.ly in August. “M&T is a regional super bank that is growing while retaining that strong bank-slash-neighbor community feel. And the commitment to diversity at M&T is incredible and starts at the top.
Jordan Eldridge, Software Engineer and Head of Youth Work-Based Learning at Code Differently
Last year, we wondered if Code Differently’s first coding cohorts focused on future underrepresented technologists would impact future RealLIST engineering rosters, and we’re already seeing it. Eldridge, of the technology education organization, has trained hundreds of aspiring young technologists over the past two years, according to his nominator.
“Jordan plays a major role in preparing Code Differently youth for software engineering partnership summer internships and projects,” its nominator wrote.
Prior to his current role, Eldridge was a software engineer specializing in production support for credit card services. It was recently featured by Oracle Academy for helping to make Code Differently its largest community partner in the United States.
Joseph McLean, CEO and co-founder of Quavo
Before co-founding Quavo, the maker of automated software that handles litigation for financial institutions, Lewes-based McClean spent 14 years at Bank of America, starting as a software developer and working his way up to SVP of Consumer Operations.
As for Quavo: “We saw an opportunity in the market to create a standard solution, so they don’t all have to start from scratch,” McLean told Technical.ly in September. “There are only a limited number of ways to solve this problem. Let’s solve it once, and for everyone.
He assumed the role of CEO of Quavo in February. Who says you can’t do tech and live in Sussex County?
Saponaro founded the 2022 RealLIST Startups honored AI Whoo (pronounced “who”) in 2019, using artificial intelligence to ethically capture data and improve behaviors in large spaces, including measuring engagement in aquariums and parks.
The startup also uses its technology to measure sports performance during combines and sports trials with the startup sportstech Hx Innovations and carried out a pilot project with the Delaware Technical and Community College volleyball team.
Saponaro is also a former University of Delaware computer teacher.
Matt Sharp, Founder of Momiji Studios
After more than five years of solo development, Sussex County technologist Sharp has completed Video game fablesa retro-style game with a game-within-a-game storyline.
“You have a lot of doubts and anxiety about something like this, where you put your – it sounds corny – but you put your heart, your sweat, your blood and your tears, your heart and your soul, into something. thing for four or five years,” Sharp said shortly before the game landed on positive reviews on Steam. “You have no guarantee or idea how it’s going to turn out, if it will sell.”
Sharp, a graduate and former teacher at wilmington university Game Design program, now resides in Bridgeville, where he also works for a local computer company.
Scott Shaw, Chief Technology Officer at Nemours
Known as Delaware’s “Godfather of Game,” the former director of Wilmington University’s Game Design program taught a generation of students how to make games and break into the growing industry.
Now he uses his skills to help hospitalized children play video games at Nemours Children’s Hospital in Wilmington.
“We use video games as a way to bring some normalcy and hopefully connect [patients] to their friends and family,” Shaw told Technical.ly in September. “Making awkward positions bearable and maybe even fun, that was the draw. To use my talents in terms of game development, gameplay, game theory, game-based learning – all things I had done before – in a way that could give back to a population that is not not in the best place.
Kalyn Smith, Software Engineer and Program Writer for Code Differently’s Workplace Learning Program
While working as a daycare teacher, Smith saw an advertisement for Code Differently’s Back ready program. After completing bootcamp, she took on a role as a software developer for a small startup before joining her alma mater.
“Kalyn has always been a leader in the youth space,” her nominator wrote. “His classes are taken by hundreds of young people in and around Delaware. She is also a strong advocate for increasing girls’ exposure to computers. As for her ability to relate young people’s interest to today’s technology, let’s just say she writes the book on it! »
Alexandr Vinokurov, Chief Technology Officer for Institutional Client Services at Wilmington Trust
Wilmington Trust (now a subsidiary of M&T Bank) has been part of the fabric of Wilmington since its founding 119 years ago. Today, it’s a major part of the city’s tech industry, and Vinokourov currently plays an important role in its growth.
“Alex is the IT lead for everything Wilmington Trust does to grow its institutional client services business around the world,” his nominator wrote. “This tech support job is in Wilmington, where he plans to hire about 40 full-time employees at his renovated IT space in downtown Wilmington.”