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Finding tech opportunities in rural Oregon

Cattle and computer science — it was a combination that David Martinez could not necessarily imagine, but it was exactly what he was looking for.

A former newspaper reporter and photographer, Martinez switched careers via Oregon State University’s Ecampus online program in computer science. Although he is still a student, he landed a job as a web applications developer at HerdDogg, a Colorado company with a shop in Medford, Oregon that develops technology for agricultural applications.

Martinez had been looking for a change when he moved to Klamath Falls to take a job at the local newspaper.

“I have lived in cities most my life and moving to a rural area really sounded more relaxing and more my style,” he says.

It wasn’t long before he realized he was ready for a career change too. His aha moment came when he read an article that advised people to find their unique strength — a task they are good at that other people struggle with.

“I’d been working on websites and doing HTML and CSS since high school but I had never thought much about it until I heard that advice and decided to take it seriously,” Martinez says.

He got his feet wet by taking free online courses, and was able to transfer to a new position at the newspaper as the web manager, but he still wanted more. In fall of 2014 he started Oregon State’s online program for computer science. HerdDogg tag on cow

“I really enjoy being able to set my own pace with this degree,” he says. “I’ve been taking two classes each term and that has allowed me to continue to work full-time.”

When he started looking for computer science jobs he was expecting he would need to move back to a city, but he got creative and searched for startup companies near him and emailed several companies about job opportunities. It was good timing for HerdDogg who had just started developing a smart tag for herd animals to help ranchers monitor the health of their livestock.

“They saw my resume and said, ‘Yes, we need exactly what you can do,’” Martinez says. He started as the web developer for HerdDogg part-time but went full-time this year when the company received more funding for the project.

The HerdDogg tag collects data from animals including temperature, activity and light and stores it until it can be transmitted to the cloud at HerdDogg.com. Martinez has been working on the front- and backend of the website which includes migrating the data to a database, then analyzing and presenting the data in a way that is useful to customers.

Martinez says the classes he has been taking at Oregon State have given him strong foundational computer science skills that have helped him in his job.

“For instance, I know that if you have to roll through the data set you probably only want do it once so you don’t exponentially increase the amount of processing time it takes,” he says.

HerdDogg is getting ready to release the beta version of their product this month.

“I’m glad to be working on a product that’s injecting technology into agriculture. It’s giving ranchers the ability to see their herd as never before by having a data history for each individual animal,” Martinez says. “It’s really exciting.”

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