Career Spotlight: Software Engineering
Rain Bird is world-renowned for irrigation systems, but these systems wouldn’t work without the software that operates them. Software engineers, firmware engineers, mobile apps engineers, and more are all working together to develop new and more advanced ways to control irrigation systems. Rain Bird has been making strides in the tech space, with the ultimate goal of leading the irrigation industry in software development.
One of Rain Bird’s major software products is Central Control. Central Control systems were first developed by Rain Bird, and are now used at golf courses, theme parks, corporate campuses, and many other large landscaping sites around the world. The software team for Central Control is constantly developing new technologies and ways to improve the platform. Brendon Hicks, the manager of the Central Control software team, appreciates the freedom that he and his team are given as they work on innovations, improvements, and more. For everyone working in software at Rain Bird, there’s a wide-open field; the company is always looking to drive new ideas.
Rain Bird is so invested in the future of irrigation that it has a dedicated team for tech research. Randy Montgomery is in charge of this group: Early New Product Research. He studies technologies and development trends across a range of industries and considers how they can be used to improve irrigation systems. Like Brendon and his team, Randy also thinks actively about innovation, not simply creation. Ultimately, Rain Bird teams know that new technologies must benefit the customer and improve the irrigation experience.
Both departments are being driven by a push for automating products to make customers lives’ easier. The Internet of Things (IOT) is a key buzzword across the company. When considering the future of the irrigation industry, Randy sounds like most other people in tech, saying “This is about networking, this is about connected devices.”
Central Control isn’t just course management software, it’s a platform, stresses Brendon. It’s one central place that landscape managers can go to access everything they need — a dashboard that connects their entire system. The brand-new iQ4 platform brings advanced multi-site management into the palm of a user’s hand. This cloud-based platform is accessible from any web-connected device and provides powerful control of irrigation schedules, manual watering, adjusting programs, and more.
On the residential side, homeowners can use the Rain Bird app to run programs remotely, even at another property of theirs, like their beach house. Rain Bird systems can be integrated with smart home offerings, giving users the power to run watering cycles simply by asking their Amazon Alexa or Google Home to do so, for example.
And this is only what’s available now. Randy’s team is constantly innovating and working on new projects. He thinks that soon, technology will be available that will let gardeners identify their geo-location and what plant material is being grown, and the Rain Bird system will handle the rest.
Something that Rain Bird prides itself on is only hiring the best. The result is that everyone who does work at Rain Bird is smart, experienced, and diligent. “You’re never the smartest person in the room,” says Randy. Everyone feels free to bounce ideas off of each other and suggest new ways of doing things, knowing that they’ll receive thoughtful feedback in return. “It’s very collaborative,” says Brendon. He adds, “On paper, there might be a fair number of steps between you and a top person in the company, but we work hand-in-hand all the time.”
The atmosphere of sharing ideas, challenging each other, and constantly learning is something that especially appeals to Randy. At Rain Bird, he cannot see himself running out of things to learn and innovate, and he’s excited by the opportunities that lay ahead of him.
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