At 6 foot, 5 inches tall, Cody Clay is a big guy. When you see him, you can tell right away that he’s the kind of guy that fits right in on a football field. You wouldn’t picture him fitting in with the horned rimmed glasses worn by the computer nerds of 90’s sitcoms. Nor would you associate him with the lumberjack beards and gauged ears of the modern Silicon Valley hipster. But the truth is, he has more in common with them than he does with his fellow jocks on the gridiron. Clay – currently employed by Advantage Technology – is the unassuming author of thousands of lines of computer code used in web applications, data analysis, and hardware automation.
Cody Clay’s story starts in Alum Creek, West Virginia, where he was born and raised. Sports always came easily to Clay, particularly football, which he saw as clean and simple. “Football is just hitting people hard,” he said when asked how it came easy to him.
Introduction to Computer Science
It was at George Washington High School that everything changed. At GW, Clay met Mrs. Donathan, the first person he considers to be a true mentor. Mrs. Donathan introduced Clay to computer science. “Unlike football, computer science is complex and thought provoking. As soon as you answer one question, it leads you to a bunch of new questions, and you just keep looking deeper and deeper.”
Along with the recent release of Marvel’s Iron Man movie, this introduction to computer science had Clay dreaming of building technological wonders. He imagined a day where he would literally create his own Iron Man suit and enthusiastically consumed all the computer science information he could. Mrs. Donathan – whom he referred to as “The Smartest Teacher to Ever Use a Smartboard” – encouraged his exploration and by the time he left high school he had completed every computer science class they had to offer along with two AP computer science classes.
All the while, it was Clay’s talents on the gridiron that captured people’s attention and eventually landed him a full scholarship at West Virginia University.
Being A Mountaineer
From 2011 to 2015, Cody Clay played 38 career games and started in 21 as a West Virginia Mountaineer. He played as a fullback and a tight end, made three touchdowns, and was awarded the Iron Mountaineer in 2014 for excellence in the weight room. Through his career, he became well known for his incredible number of pancake blocks.
Meanwhile, back in the classroom, he pursued the dream of his Iron Man suit and studied mechanical engineering. Unfortunately, he became a little disillusioned as mechanical engineering didn’t quite give him that spark of excitement that he experienced in Ms. Donathan’s computer science classes.
Feeling he may never recapture that thrill, he flirted with biology and chemistry as prudent career paths. “I thought I’d like to be a veterinarian,” Clay said. “And if this software development thing doesn’t end up working out, I’ll probably go back to school to become one.” But that yearn to explore and create in the ever-expanding digital landscape kept tugging at him. So Clay shifted his focus finally to computer science and graduated in 2015 with his bachelor of science degree.
The structure of West Virginia University’s computer science program offered Clay a lot of flexibility to develop his own problem-solving toolkit. “I learned how to learn about solving problems with programming,” he said. “We had projects with an end goal in mind, but no set way to get there. We had to figure that part out on our own.” For his senior project, Clay’s team created a robotic lawn mower with a single-board computer processing commands and reading in sensor data to prevent the mower from running over objects or injuring people.
“Through those kinds of projects, I learned how to work in a development team, which is a lot different from a football team. In football, you know who is capable of what and who you can rely on for what. In software development, everyone brings such a diverse skill set. You need to get to know everyone’s strengths and weaknesses first. Then you have to understand how each of their strengths can be used to offset your own weaknesses. So to get the best team, everyone has to know how to work with everyone else. It’s a lot more complicated.”
Getting Noticed in the Tech Industry
With school winding down, word got to Richard Wilbur, president and CEO of Advantage Technology and BJ Evans, co-founder and managing director of sister company, Aridea Solutions. Advantage Technology had a burgeoning custom software development department, and Aridea Solutions is in constant need of high-quality code for their remote environmental monitoring solutions. Being an Internet of Things company, Aridea Solutions’ code is very specialized and requires a rapid development cycle.
Clay met with Evans for dinner, and the two came to a trial agreement. For the first few months, Clay worked on an hourly basis helping Amber Bostic, Advantage Technology’s lead software developer, with web development. He quickly won her over and landed a full-time position as a software developer.
“Cody Clay is a great person to have on my team,” said Bostic. “He is enjoyable to work with, works well with others and is very enthusiastic about learning new skills. He has an excellent ability to complete tasks at a high level and is eager to make our customers happy.”
Today, just six months out of college, Clay has become an indispensable contributor to the Advantage Technology and Aridea Solutions team.
With the Advantage Technology team, he has worked to develop the client-facing side of web applications, developed computer automation systems and contributed to data analysis applications. Being part of the Advantage Technology team has given him a broader understanding of IT in general and given him access to other developers with much deeper knowledge while supplying him with the opportunity to introduce them to new techniques, frameworks, and languages.
Clay has also spent a great deal of time helping Aridea Solutions improve their products. Aridea Solutions uses ultra-low power Internet of Things technologies to monitor environmental parameters – like water, air and weather – in remote locations. The nature of the technology requires the systems to be extraordinarily efficient. Clay contributed to a project to replace several pieces of proprietary hardware with a single-board computer and custom software.
These six months have been a big transition for Cody Clay. He switched from the weight room to the desk and from hitting people to asking them questions. “I’ve gained 30 lbs. since started at Advantage Technology, but gained at least 30 IQ points.” He recently took up tennis to help him get his exercise and hopes to flesh out his knowledge of IT in the next six months so he can begin leading on projects.
In addition to joining the Advantage Technology team, Cody Clay was recently married and is expecting his first child.
About Advantage Technology
Advantage Technology is proud to be a WV owned and operated company, keeping good paying jobs in WV. Their focus is to provide IT solutions that are both cutting-edge and affordable.
Advantage Technology, values relationships and has become a VMware Enterprise Partner, Microsoft Certified Partner, ShoreTel Enterprise Partner, Avaya Certified Partner, SMART Technologies Silver Partner, Extreme Networks Silver Partner, Dell Partner Direct, Dell SonicWALL Certified Partner and Dell’s number one reseller and system integrator in West Virginia.
They use these relationships, forged by their indispensable staff, to provide a proactive approach to IT.
About Aridea Solutions
Aridea Solutions’ mission is to deliver solutions that help drive compliance costs down by bringing innovation to environmental stewardship.
The founders of Aridea observed that there are ever-present compliance concerns with state and federal regulatory agencies in industries that deal with environmental impact. And further, there are high-tech systems that could be developed to provide real-world cost savings on compliance measurement costs. This could be done by connecting natural resources to the internet, providing real-time environmental monitoring and diverting the man hours used for compliance measurement to more productive tasks.