Meet Software Engineer and Full Stack Developer Ewelina Grudzień (29). After joining The Hyve in August 2016, she was first involved with TranSMART and the development of the new user interface Glowing Bear. She then moved on to Fairspace projects. Out of hours, she likes to do outdoor activities like running, cycling, skiing, and mountain hiking.
Can you tell me a bit about your background?
I have a bachelor’s degree in Industrial Computer Science from the Warsaw University of Technology in Poland. I studied at the faculty of Mechatronics with a focus on Automatic Control and Robotics. I was part of the scientific society that organizes a mobile robotics competition every year and even built a small robot with a few friends and competed in this tournament.
Finding an interesting internship in the field of robotics proved difficult though. That’s how my adventure with IT started. I got an internship at an IT company and found programming really interesting and challenging. So I decided to start working as a full-stack developer and switched to Computer Science for my master’s degree.
How did you get to know The Hyve?
That’s quite a story. I always wanted to do an internship or study abroad. During my master’s, I found a six-month internship in England. However, a week before I was supposed to start the company informed me that for financial reasons they cancelled all internships.
I was determined to go abroad, though. Since my boyfriend got an internship in the Netherlands, I decided to move with him to the Netherlands and find a job there.
I started looking at IT companies in Utrecht on LinkedIn and that’s how I found The Hyve. What really got my attention was the idea of building open-source solutions so many organizations can benefit from them. I also liked the concept of open science. The field was a bit new to me, but I really wanted to work here so I applied. In the end, it all happened really fast. I got a reply to my application just before we left Poland and had my interview a couple of days after moving to the Netherlands. One week later I was working at The Hyve.
Which team and products are you involved with?
My first project was on TranSMART, developing Glowing Bear. After that, I joined the Fairspace team which was created as part of the bigger Health Data Infrastructure team. Recently, we’ve had another restructuring of teams. The Health Data Infrastructure team has been split into smaller teams to create a better focus on projects and products. One is called Real World Data and the other one, that I’m part of, is called Research Data Management. The focus of our team is on semantic modelling, tools for research data management, and custom development.
About a month ago, we finished a big Fairspace project at the Institut Curie, a cancer research hospital in Paris. We developed a custom research platform for this client. It’s a collaboration environment and a secure data catalog for their research data collection, based on the FAIR principles. The platform provides a flexible metadata layer and can be deployed with RDF, a standard model for data exchange on the web. The platform is now live and I’m curious to see how it works out in practice.
I’m also still in touch with the Princess Máxima Center for Pediatric Oncology in Utrecht, a Dutch institute that treats children with cancer. We’re maintaining their infrastructure, doing security upgrades, et cetera.
What do you do at The Hyve?
As a software engineer, my main job is writing software. Depending on the project or task at hand it’s either designing and developing back-end, building data loading pipelines, or writing scripts. Deployment automation is also part of my job.
Of course, before I can start writing codes it’s important to make a good design; come up with a solution that actually solves the customer’s problem. In order to do that, I have to understand the problem and get to know the customer and their needs. So I’m involved in discussions with our customers, development of the project plan, product design, and deciding on the technical aspects of the solution.
In the end, the solution should not only meet the customer’s functional needs but it also has to be secure and perform well. Then there is the aspect of reusability. Since we’re building open-source solutions at The Hyve, we need to keep in mind that everything we develop could be used by others and it should be flexible and easy to extend in the future.
What do you like most about working at The Hyve?
Building solutions for hospitals, research institutes and pharma companies gives me the feeling of doing something useful. If I can play a part in helping them in some way – researchers, doctors, and eventually patients – that means a lot to me.
Also, working at The Hyve means working with awesome people. They come from all over the world. It’s really nice to get to know their stories, their culture, and have fun together. Of course, nowadays it’s a bit more difficult because we all work remotely. But it’s great to see how quickly everyone adjusted to this new reality of working from home and The Hyve makes it really easy. It’s especially great for me, because I currently live far away from the office, in Poland. But I must say, I don’t feel this distance in my daily work that much.
How long have you been working remotely from Poland?
I moved back to Poland for my master’s studies in October 2017 and in January 2019 I moved back to the Netherlands until March 2020. When I first moved back to Poland, everyone at The Hyve was working in the office. I was the only one working remotely. It was difficult at times as many things happened in the office and I was not part of that. Since the pandemic started, it's been easier for me. My colleagues were in the same boat and they suddenly understood the limitations of working remotely.
I’m glad that travel has resumed, I can now visit the office again regularly. I like being in Utrecht from time to time, so I can catch up with colleagues or meet new ones that I haven’t met yet.
Can you mention an exciting development in your field?
I really like how more and more companies decide to adopt open-source solutions and see the advantage of open code, having communities around the tools, and working together to improve them. Especially when it comes to security and performance, it really helps to have this community.
I also like that our customers are more and more looking for solutions that help them collaborate not only internally but also between departments and institutes – share and reuse their data using the FAIR principles and working on projects together. I think collaboration is really beneficial for the Life Sciences.
What do you like to do when you're 'off-duty'?
Of course, our work involves a lot of sitting in front of the computer so I like to stay active after hours. When it’s nice weather I like running outside or doing bike trips. For bad weather, I have a nice gym nearby. I also really like travelling, visiting new places and trying the local cuisine.
I especially love mountainous areas and we have some nice mountains in Poland. During the winter I like to go skiing with friends, during other seasons we organize hiking trips.