My Journey in WIFI

My Journey in WIFI


What is this house painter doing in this Wireless World? Even though I haven’t painted professionally in 10 years or so, painting is what I was trained to do and what I have done more than anything else in my life. I still think of myself as a painter. Painting is a job where you can see your results right away. There is no long term planning, no endless meetings, no emails, or phone calls. You just move the furniture in the center of the room, lay down your drop clothes, prep, paint and at the end of the day you have transformed a room.


In early 1999 I put my paint brush down and started working at Cisco in their OSS division. I enjoyed working there, I loved the people and the products. I enjoyed being around all of these guys and girls who knew technology. There were days when you sat in a training class or meeting and the guy running the class was one of the guys who wrote the book on the subject he was talking about. It was an amazing time. In late 2000, the market was changing and Cisco laid me off. It was a tough time. The job market dried up and I had a house, a wife, a child and another on the way. I needed a job so I went back to the one thing I really knew: house painting. I spent three long hot summers painting and dreaming about getting back into IT. My skills were getting weaker by the month and I wondered if I would ever go back.


In Nov 2004, Hill-Rom was looking for people for their Tech Support Department. They took a chance on this House Painter even though my tech skills were a bit dated. Hill-Rom was a great place to work and learn. I learned about servers, networks, Nurse Call, PBXs and integrating Nurse Call with wireless phone systems. One of the products I supported was Vocera, a wireless communication device. It was the first wireless product I had ever worked on and I was hooked. I worked closely with Chris O’Donnell CWNE #64. Chris taught me a great deal about wireless and Vocera. Every time I thought I was getting a handle on things, Chris would throw me a new topic and encourage me to learn more about it.


In 2009 Vocera decided to take over all sales, service and support of their products I was suddenly a Wireless Engineer without a Wireless product. So I spent the next 6 years at Hill-Rom doing various jobs: including installing and integrating ASCOM Wireless devices, Centrak staff and asset tracking, working trade shows and supporting Hill-Rom’s three show rooms. When I would see Chris O’Donnell (who was working for Vocera at the time) at various tradeshows and events. He would ask me if I was keeping up on Wireless especially 802.11n. I was not. Unfortunately I found I was quickly losing my wireless knowledge.


After 11 years at Hill-Rom I knew I needed to get back to the Wireless world. I began studying for my CWNA. This landed me a job at Vocera in Jan 2016 (which I had been a huge fan of since seeing it integrated with Hill-Rom Nurse Call in 2004). When I started at Vocera I spent the 1st year learning their products and processes, which didn’t leave much time for studying. In Feb 2017, I turned off the TV and started studying for my CWNA again. I passed it in April 2017 and then obtained my CWAP (July 2017), CWSP (Oct 2017), CWDP (Jan 2018). I am hoping to get my CWNE before they give out #350.


So why is this painter doing WIFI? The short answer is I really love the technology. The more I learn about it the deeper I want to dive into it. I am looking forward to taking wireless courses and getting more involved in the community. There is an amazing and supportive Wireless community on Twitter, Slack Channel and the blogs. I hope to give back to this community as much as I can. I want to thank all of those whose ’s Twitter Posts and Blogs have inspired me to get more involved, Keith Parsons (@KiethRParsons), Lee Badman (@wirednot), Andrew Von Nagy (@revolutionwifi), Devin Akin (@DevinAkin), Rick Murphy (@RickMurphyWiTS), Manon Lessard (@Mae149), Blake Krone (@blakekrone), Andrew McHale (@mac_wifi), Sam Clements (@samuel_clements) and of course Chris O’Donnell (@Vofi_CWNE).