• January 28, 2022

Rocket.Build 2020: Going Virtual

As a seasoned Rocket.Build participant (I’ve participated every year since its inception), I was initially skeptical when it was announced as a virtual event this year. In the early years, when Rocket.Build was held in a hotel, we spent the week so consumed with our projects that we would stumble upstairs to our rooms in the wee hours of the morning for a few hours of rest. We ended the week feeling exhausted, but more connected and accomplished. It was a great feeling and a good time! When the event turned virtual, I wondered how we would capture that same energy.

But with everything in 2020 being different, it made sense that this event would also evolve. As we enter our first weeks of Rocket.Build 2020, I wanted to highlight my experience with going virtual.

Increased Participation

Every year in the weeks leading up to Rocket.Build, I try to encourage as many people as possible to participate. For my immediate colleagues, this means sending out ideas for projects that they can use—things that interested me and would hopefully intrigue them if they were looking for a topic. This year was different though. Leading up to the event, I had several colleagues stop and talk to me about their project ideas. Rocketeers were proactively planning their build, gathering ideas, and collaborating on plans. Having the next generation of Rocketeers energized about projects reinvigorated me personally, and brought in much-needed enthusiasm, especially during this trying time.

This energy can be felt globally. More than ever, Rocketeers from our international offices are joining together in this event. By making it a virtual initiative, we’ve seen increased participation from all over the world, including India, Japan, Russia, and Australia. Every Thursday in August and a week in September, Rocketeers are uniting for a common goal and a common event: Rocket.Build. 

More Time to Learn

What I look forward to most about Rocket.Build is that it gives me the ability to step back out of the fast-moving stream of everyday work life. During Rocket.Build, I get to explore, innovate, and develop. All of us tend to become so consumed with daily demands that we rarely stop to think about and explore our individual interests. This event forces us to take that opportunity—the opportunity to slow down and think about how to make things a little better.

With the event being held over the course of a few weeks, I’ve found that I have even more time than usual to explore my project. Working virtually with my partner, we’ve been spending our Thursdays collaborating through video calls, separating to work independently, and then coming back together when needed. Instead of the usual week consumed with building, I now tend to also use pockets of time throughout the week to innovate. Doing Rocket.Build virtually has had the effect of improving my self-discipline around making time for innovation. 

Tip For New Rocketeers

Rocket.Build is about fueling creativity and allowing for exploration. My advice is that when selecting your project, pick something that interests you. Every year, there are new themes and potential projects, but the goal is to make sure you’re enjoying it. Choose a piece of technology or an application that you’ve wanted to learn, then tailor that passion into a project that fits the theme. That way, no matter what happens, you’ll always be successful.

 Although Rocket.Build is a work event, over the years it’s become a family event. My family knows when it’s going to happen, and they know my process. Usually, I’ve been away from home while it’s happening, but they know that for a few days, I will be consumed with building the project. Although this year is different, the excitement of Rocket.Build hasn’t waned. In fact, as the Rocket.Build team grows globally, so has the energy. And that helps keep us seasoned Rocket.Build participants energized!

Tim Hill 1 Posts

Tim Hill is a Senior Director of Engineering for Power and Security products, and a Distinguished Engineer at Rocket Software. He has led engineering and offering management teams for creation of products involving security and compliance, network management, thermal control system diagnostics, deep learning-based target recognition, and more. Cloud and Security technologies are his current passion, with classical piano and golf among favorite hobbies.


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