One minute with Felix Sotres, software developer

When he isn't developing software develop for Fermilab, Felix Sotres is active in STEM outreach. Photo: Reidar Hahn

When he isn’t developing software develop for Fermilab, Felix Sotres is active in STEM outreach. Photo: Reidar Hahn

How long have you been at Fermilab?

A year and a half. It seems to me you’re still a new guy if you’ve been here for 10 years.

What is your role at Fermilab?

I’m a ServiceNow developer. ServiceNow is a software platform that a lot of different sections of the lab use. If something is broken, I’ll fix it, or if there are custom applications that need to be made, then I either create, modify or fix them.

I’m also one of the developers for mobile devices at Fermilab. If you go to the Apple or Google Play store and download the Fermilab app — I wrote that, building on previous work.

What initially piqued your interest in programming?

I never really knew what I wanted to do. I used to play this computer game. And I started just creating my own little maps for the game. Eventually I found out I was programming, and I really liked it. So then I thought, “Is there a field in this? Could I make a career out of this?” And it turns out that there is, so that’s how I got my start.

What I like best is the problem-solving and those kind of “a-ha” moments where you finally get something done.

What do you like most about your job here?

What I love about it is putting my little grain in the advancement of science. I really believe in the lab and what it does, and I feel like I’m part of it. It’s the sense of being a part of it and having pride.

What project are you currently working on?

Currently, there’s a lot of automation and business processes that happen when you submit a ServiceNow ticket, or a request, or when something’s broken. So for the automation on the back end, I’m working on a project that will dynamically handle 80 percent of things, and it’s data-driven. It’s one automation to rule them all. I’m working with my senior developers and the data architect on this.

What else are you involved in at Fermilab?

I work with the Lederman Science Education Center, and I’ve been able to do some presentations at different schools in the area. At the first one, we went to my old library in Crystal Lake. I used to go to that library after school and do my homework, and this time I got to give a presentation to the kids there. It was on electricity and magnetism, so we had demos, and I showed them some videos. It was really cool because the kids were very interested, and I had quite a few of them rush up to me at the end and ask me, “What is that?” and “What else can you show us?”

Just recently I got involved in the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers. I’m the VP of professional development, and we just founded the professional chapter at Fermilab.

What’s something about you that might surprise people?

I like to go sailing and scuba diving. I practiced with the UIC sailing team at the Columbia Yacht Club in Chicago. I also swam in the whale shark exhibit at the Georgia Aquarium. It’s one of two aquariums in the world that is large enough to house them.

What do you like to do when you’re not at work?

I’m on a bowling league with my friends. We won our first two times that we participated, so that was fun. And then I bought a new house. It’s an investment property, so I’m rehabbing it. I’ve never been a handy or tool kind of guy, but now I’m learning how to do stuff, and I can talk shop with other handy folks.