Employee Spotlight: Darren Jones
Darren Jones, Project Manager
Do you have any engineering hobbies?
I am into motorcycling so I like to tinker with bikes. I currently have three motorcycles, one for the street, one I completely restored several years ago, and one dedicated race/track bike. It's interesting that even small changes to a bike can produce significant changes in handling and performance, so I like to experiment with them.
This hobby was taken to a nerdy level when I mounted a GPS to the bike to record data on the racetrack. I wrote a program in LabVIEW to report speed and position at any point along the track. It's helpful to review speed and position through turns, and fun to see what top speeds can be reached in the straights.
How fast do the bikes go and where do you race them?
My bike tops out at 130 – 135 mph, but some go up to 160 – 165 mph. I started track racing in 2007. The farthest I have gone to race was in Portland, Oregon. Luckily there are five or six tracks within a day’s drive of the Chicago area.
Do you have any other hobbies?
I have family scattered all over the place so I like to travel and visit them as often as possible. I also like outdoor activities, such as hiking and backpacking. I used to be an avid snow skier, but after tearing my ACL twice in each knee I took to motorcycling instead! Guitar is another interest-- I play and take lessons at the Old Town School of Folk Music.
What is your favorite Chicago location?
If a neighborhood counts I would say Lincoln Square. There are a lot of great spots there including, the Davis Theater, the Old Town School of Folk Music, and numerous restaurants. I really enjoy its low key, neighborhoody vibe.
Tell me about your childhood experiments.
I had some interesting “toys” as a kid, with access to things like welding equipment and gunpowder that most kids probably didn't have. We used to fill garbage bags with acetylene and oxygen and set them off in backyard. With some help from my dad, we learned to do it safely, with a family-developed technique for remote filling and detonation.
What are some of the most interesting projects you have worked on at DMC?
Well I guess you never know how you’ll leverage previous life experiences. One interesting project we are currently working on tests hazardous location equipment, specifically working with explosion-proof devices filled with acetylene.
Another project I am proud to be a part of is a hybrid electric vehicle battery and fuel cell test platform for a national laboratory. It’s a great project because it is technically challenging while also socially valuable.
My career started in research so I gravitate to that environment. I always look for opportunities to learn and pass information on to clients to achieve something they hadn’t known was possible.
What do you like best about working at DMC?
I like making an impact for our clients, helping them do a better job and become more productive. DMC has a great diversity of clients and projects, and I enjoy teaching clients what solutions are available to help them out.
What are the top three lessons you have taken from your career thus far?
Thinking at a systems level; learning how to assess robustness of tools and processes so you know which pieces in a system are most reliable in any situation.
The importance of paying attention to customer needs, even when they are undocumented.
Knowing when to trust your gut – which is all the time.
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