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Kristin Whetstone Cain ('11)

Alumna Kristin Whetstone Cain

Kristin Whetstone Cain
Senior Software Engineer, CloudBees
Class of ’11

Whether it's digital or physical, I'm a maker.  I traveled down the state of Virginia from Fairfax to Virginia Tech, and then to the Research Triangle in North Carolina after graduation where I've been ever since.  During my career, I've worked a "startup" in a large company, to an actual startup that's tripled in size since I joined. I've spent my time focusing on back-end software engineering from workloads on the cloud to the software that manages the hardware underneath it. After working on many different teams meeting the needs of a rapidly growing company, I've found my current favorite spot in licensing and subscription solutions for our products.  

I also love working with the open-source software project Jenkins, where I've volunteered as a mentor for Google Summer of Code/Season of Docs projects, and have given presentations at open-source conferences to get other people as excited about software as I am.  When not making bits and bytes, I enjoy spending my time making and volunteering with my local fiber arts guild and hiking national/state parks with my husband.

How did the CS department prepare me for the real world... 

One of the most helpful things was working on large projects spanning most of the semester that were in no way possible for one person to do on their own.  I think at some point, we've all been guilty of just doing the project ourselves; however, that doesn't work in the real world.  Projects live long —long past the delivery date.  Breaking down work into ownable domains, syncing with each other (and sometimes other groups), and writing clear standards for how our pieces would integrate are critical skills since that's how software in "the real world" happens.  

As a fun side note: you never think you're ever going to use a coding project from one of your algorithms class, but I had a problem where I had to sort a large amount of data I couldn't reliably fit in memory.  It looks like that theoretical external storage sort problem was pretty realistic!

Being a Virginia Tech alumna means...  

Ut Prosim.  One of my favorite things to work on in technology is open-source software.  I've learned so much from others and I love that I can give back to the computing community.  With my current job, I am able to work with a very large open-source project (the Jenkins automation server) through coding and mentoring, and it is something I will keep doing for as long as I'm able. One of the coolest things about open source is sharing a way you solved your problem that someone else can build on. I love that one project I did for auto generating documentation has had lots of contributions and improvements made by a lot of different people, and continues to help users today.

My fondest memory from my time at the department is.... 

Spending time with my classmates late at night working on coding projects together in the CS Lounge.  When that opened, it really enabled us to have a special space to come together and form friendships that lasted beyond the semester into the present day.  Also, who wouldn't say they got excited when their shell worked in operating systems?

My favorite memory of AWC is....

While the Grace Hopper Conference for Women in Computing had a profound impact on my love of computing and community (seeing the energy and enthusiasm of women sharing the love of computing and supporting each other was so special!), I would have to say my favorite memory in AWC was getting to help the senior officers get ready for Women in Computing Day when I was a freshman.  I felt so welcomed by the group when I was first getting my bearings on campus, and not even officially a CS major yet!  I'll never forget riding the bus out to the CRC for the first time; it was like another world that I would definitely become familiar with over the course of four years.  I also never would have been an undergraduate teaching assistant without the encouragement of my AWC mentor. And that job was one of my highlights of my time at Virginia Tech.

The work project/initiative I'm most interested in...

In my day job, it's working with evolving the capabilities of our support team into the general back-office tooling which is my passion. I love making tools that make the jobs of people on the front lines of customer issues/enablement easier. I'm also looking forward to working more with Jenkins documentation SIG, and potentially the project's entry in Google Summer of Code in the upcoming year.