Changing Careers: How Pedro Lopez Went From Research Engineer to Software Developer

Changing Careers: How Pedro Lopez Went From Research Engineer to Software Developer

8th Light
8th Light
March 03, 2022

Before switching careers and joining 8th Light, Pedro Lopez spent his days in a laboratory helping clients optimize smart hardware devices. As a research engineer for heavy machinery and infrastructure devices, he helped businesses design and carry out experiments that measured key aspects such as orientation, droplet size, trajectory, and durability. The work involved a lot of interesting problem solving, including some image processing tasks he performed with Python — but the lab environment was predictable and stale by necessity, and Pedro began looking around for something different.

Pedro Lopez
Name: Pedro Lopez
Location: Chicago
Time at 8th Light: 6+ months
Time in the industry: 6+ months

Outside of work, Pedro is a big fan of live music and sports. “Whether it’s golfing, softball, or kickball, most of my weekends involve at least one rec league sport or game,” says Pedro. “I found it’s a great place to meet people who already share common interests.” For Pedro, fantasy sports also provided an opportunity to dive deeper into his blossoming interest in software.

Having always had an interest in the data science aspects of his job, Pedro expanded on these skills to get an edge in fantasy sports. As he learned more and added new skills to his toolset, he discovered that his interest in coding went deeper. “In my last job, there’s really only so much you can do,” Pedro says. “The idea of going somewhere where the technology stack seems almost infinite … it’s a lot more rewarding.”

Changing Careers

When Pedro finally switched careers, he says he chose to work at 8th Light as an apprentice because of the company’s commitment to people. “The biggest draw to 8th Light was their commitment to their employees,” he says. "An apprenticeship program, emphasis on inclusivity, and learning and development time set 8th Light apart for me.”

His apprenticeship curriculum has focused on expanding his skills with new paradigms and domains. He built his own HTTP server, which he’s been using to host new applications he’s developed in Elixir, JavaScript, and more. He’s mastering test-driven development, and gaining a holistic understanding of software that will allow him to join any project, and deliver tested and idiomatic solutions. Ultimately, that’s the goal. “I can’t wait to start interacting with larger teams and code bases,” he says.

A career as a software developer has also given him the opportunity to cultivate his own office workspace. “You can pretty much work anywhere, which I guess we’re proof of at this point,” Pedro explains. “The idea of breaks — what’s a solid getaway? Do you have weights by you? How are you going to be most efficient and comfortable?”

Although he’s made his physical workspace entirely his own, Pedro has been able to connect with his new team members because of his dedicated mentors. “Pairing with my mentors has been the most rewarding time throughout the apprenticeship,” Pedro says. "I always feel like working on a project is a good way to meet your coworkers, and my two mentors have been great.”

Check out our other Employee Spotlights or learn more about careers at 8th Light.