In 2011, after about a year at Epic, I decided to pack up and head back east to work with some college buddies at CTAC in Fairfax, VA.
CTAC was a shock to the system after Epic. The team dynamic was a lot smaller and seemed closer knit. I became good friends with most of my coworkers and started learning how to write dynamic web apps.
I started working on the Syndication Project, which allowed government agencies (and outside agencies) to publish articles to their websites while sharing them with other websites. There was a system of feeds you could subscribe to and automatically publish articles on multiple locations at once, as well as updating and removing content. This application was written in Groovy with Grails. It was an interesting language to work with, although I found the support for Ruby and Rails to be much better at the time. When we couldn’t figure out how to do something we tended to fall back on java and so our project was a strange mix in the early days.
After working on Syndication, I moved to the Rails team and started learning Ruby on Rails. I worked on numerous projects with Rails, including ICRAS (the now defunct paperworkreduction.gov), DARMIS, and some internal projects for HHS.
I enjoyed my time at CTAC immensely. I felt like I was learning the entire time I was employed there. I never felt comfortable living in the DC Metro Area, and wanted to return to Madison though. CTAC was gracious enough to allow me to work remotely for a while until I found a new position at Primex in WI.
One thing I can say about getting out of government contracting is there are a lot less meetings now than when I was there. With so many eyes on the projects and so many people with vested interest, it was hard to just get work done and make something useful.
Header photo taken by Clint Cecil at Rocky Mountain National Park, Wyoming.