Ryan Taylor, Systems Engineer
What do you like best about working at DMC?
I like that I come in and do interesting work that is always different. Working at DMC gives you a diverse experience base to draw from.
The lunch conversations at DMC are always fun and they never end up where they start from. Robots are usually involved and many of the Quote Board comments originate at the lunch table.
Do you have any engineering hobbies?
Right now, I’m working on an automatic bartending device. It will have gravity-fed reservoirs controlled by solenoids and a touch input LCD screen to select a drink type. I’m only at the software level right now, but eventually it will be able to dispense recipes with just a few ingredients.
What cocktails are you looking forward to having automatically made?
Gin & tonic or anything with tequila.
You held your DMC welcome party at Medieval Times. Can you tell us about your real-life medieval adventure?
The trip to Medieval Times was motivated by watching the movie The Cable Guy over and over growing up. Medieval Times is featured in a fight scene, but I didn’t realize it was a real place until after high school. When I found out there was one just north of Chicago, it was a no-brainer to hold my welcome party there.
During the spring break of my junior year of high school, I had no travel plans, and there wasn’t much to do in my hometown (Lafayette, IN) when all of my friends were in tropical destinations. So, my brother, a friend, and I decided to build a trebuchet, which is a medieval siege weapon, in my yard. It took us about three or four days to build the trebuchet using no power tools and about $100 of lumber. When we were done, it stood about 8 feet tall and was surprisingly effective. We could launch a tennis ball about 50 feet with some luck. The original sling (which holds the projectile) was made out of an old tennis racket bag. I decided to go full tilt into the medieval theme and started working on a sling made of chain mail. I spent an afternoon researching chain mail patterns, and I sourced steel rings from someone named “The Ring Lord” in Canada… which proves that there is something for everyone on the internet. It took me about eight hours to link the 6”x6” chain mail together, but it made a noticeable improvement to the firing capability of the treb.
At the end of that school year, I held a party at my house. Naturally, we started setting things on fire and launching them. It was pretty entertaining until the trebuchet itself caught fire. The remains of the trebuchet can still be found in my parents’ yard and I’d say it was one of my more successful engineering projects to-date.
The trebuchet before and after adding the counterweight.
Ryan at 17, about to launch the treb. A firing pin/trigger was added later.
What else do you like to do for fun?
I’m really into music, and though you wouldn’t guess it by looking at me, I’m a huge fan of metal. I first started listening to it jokingly, but eventually I realized there is a lot going on technically that people don’t initially hear. By far the best example of this is the progressive metal genre, but you’ll find something interesting no matter where you look. I’m pretty convinced that anyone with an open mind and enough time can learn to enjoy metal. Actually, despite the stereotypes of what a metalhead is, a lot of us are actually huge nerds. The fan base is very diverse...the right-brain, scientific crowd feeds off of the technical aspects of the music and the creative types can appreciate how intricate and unique some of the sounds and structures are.
Progressive rock has been key in the development of my musical appreciation because it expanded my idea of what the standard 4-piece rock band could do, technically and creatively. Pink Floyd and Devin Townsend are two of my all-time favorite musical acts. I’m also interested in other genres like indie rock, trance, house, swing, big band, and funk and fusion genres.
I really enjoy starting and participating in email threads that share or discuss music. I like to think of myself as a kind of “personal music consultant.” There are a lot of great music podcasts out there (NPR’s All Song’s Considered is one of my favorites) but I’ve been working to create my own for this purpose. I have a few pieces of episodes already made that I’m tweaking and improving; one is a beginner’s guide to metal. Another showcases only Australian bands.
Would you ever play in a band?
Absolutely. If anyone is looking for a bass player of moderate skill, let me know. If I started a band, I think I would enjoy being in a post-rock or post-metal band the most.
As a music consultant, can you recommend three songs for the Employee Spotlight readers?
- "Mystical Potato Head Groove Thing" - Joe Satriani Satch has some of the quickest hands in the business.
- "The Sixth Extinction" - Ayreon One of the best tracks from the Arjen Lucassen rock opera 01011001.
- "How to be a Werewolf" - Mogwai One of my favorite post-rock groups. This song is perfect driving music.
What are your favorite places in Chicago?
Well, I spend a lot of time at the gym or running on the Lake Front Trail around Belmont Harbor. I recently took a swing dancing class as well and was better than I expected! Even though I’m a sports agnostic, I enjoy stopping by Will’s Northwoods Inn which is a Wisconsin sports bar. The Wisconsin theme of taxidermy on the walls reminds me of the house I grew up in.
I also love photography and have fun finding weird places in the city to take pictures. Recently, I took a photo of an in-uniform cop relaxing behind a hospital and got in a little trouble with hospital security. FYI it is legal to take photos from public sidewalks without the use of any special equipment. Any interested parties can find my photos here.
What’s your favorite programming language?
I’ve had a little experience with iOS (Objective-C) and Android (Java) in the past, but recently encountered C++ for the first time. Really digging into an object-oriented language has been an enlightening experience, and it’s been fun discovering the powerful things it can do.