Chicks That Rip: Ines Sombra

This month we’re featuring one of our very own Engine Yard stars: Ines Sombra. As a Data Storage Support Engineer, Ines works to make her visions and goals for Engine Yard data a reality. Moving from Argentina to the United States for college, Ines knew at a young age that she wanted to work in computer science. Since then, Ines has become an active member of the Ruby community, particularly by encouraging and teaching women to learn Ruby on Rails. Ines travels regularly, splitting her time between San Francisco and Dallas. When she is not working, Ines enjoys biking, attending concerts, and spending time with her pug, Gordo. We talked with Ines about her fascinating background, reasons for choosing Ruby on Rails, and current projects and volunteer work.

__Why did you decide to move to the US from Argentina? __

I always wanted to finish my education abroad. I started studying Computer Science in La Universidad Blas Pascal in Cordoba, Argentina. When I was a junior in college, my family gave me the opportunity to finish my degree in the US. So I packed my life into two suitcases, bought a one-way plane ticket, and arrived in Springfield, Missouri, in the heart of the American Midwest, on January 26, 2001. I went from an Argentinean summer to the Midwest winter in the span of a day. It was quite a shock!

You studied Computer Science at Drury University and then went on to get your masters in Computer Science and Information Management at Washington University in St. Louis. What sparked your interest in the tech world at a young age?

I was a very active child. My parents sent me to all kinds of extra curricular activities just to keep me busy and out of trouble. When I was 5 or 6 years old, I started learning Logo and I loved it. BBS systems and the Internet as we know it finally arrived in Tierra del Fuego around 1995, and, when it did, I was hooked. After, graduating high school, I decided to study Computer Science and never looked back.

I never changed majors, mostly because the more I studied, the less I felt I knew. I really enjoy the process of building knowledge and learning new things. So, when I find something I can do, I move immediately to the next challenge.

What attracted you to working with Ruby on Rails?

What attracted me most to the Ruby on Rails community is how bold it is. This community is not afraid to experiment and innovate. What I find especially interesting is the prevalence of polyglot systems and cutting-edge data store solutions. Databases are put to the test in Ruby on Rails, and these applications are defining the future of how systems will be constructed. It’s amazing.

The Ruby community moves fast and is demanding. When I finished my masters, I wanted to find a place where I’d be challenged and excited to come to work. I am very happy to have found it at Engine Yard. I work with a tremendous group of people that help me grow and improve my skills daily.

What are some of your current projects? Can you describe your work on MongoDB?

I’m currently working with our DBA, Product, Platform, Software Distribution, and PANDA teams to overhaul our Relational DB stacks and pave the road for NoSQL data stores. Our current focus is on completing our PostgreSQL 9 Beta and MySQL offerings.

_MongoDB-wise, I’ve completed the evaluation process and laid out what our future supported installations will look like. I’m finalizing our strategy and roadmap to start working towards an alpha release.__

Note: We will cover these data plans in more detail here on the blog in a few weeks.

You are very involved in the local tech community, volunteering for RailsBridge in San Francisco, and co-organizing the Dallas Ft. Worth Big Data group. Can you talk about each group and what you contribute? __

The RailsBridge mission is to enable free learning resources, mentors, and workshops for anyone who wants to learn how to program. In this group, I volunteer as a TA in their Ruby workshops for women interested in learning Ruby in Rails.

What I like about RailsBridge is that it reaches out to individuals and groups who are underrepresented in the community. I really believe that workplace diversity fosters creativity, and I want to help bring computer science concepts closer to anyone interested.

I am the co-organizer of the Dallas Ft. Worth Big Data group. Our goal is to build and strengthen the Dallas Fort Worth Data community. Our events focus on presenting technologies and products that allow you to manipulate large amounts of data in new and innovative ways. We’re gaining momentum and group attendance is growing. We have big plans this year with upcoming presentations from companies like Basho, 10gen, Cloudera, Oracle, VoltDB, Membase, and DataStax among others.

What goals do you hope to accomplish at Engine Yard in terms of data?

Short term, I’d like to keep working with our internal teams to continually improve our PosgreSQL and MySQL offering. Long term, I want to drive the evolution of our Engine Yard data offering to best serve users.

Inspired by Ines? Get involved and participate in a RailsBridge Workshop near you, or check out local technology meetups in your area. If you know an awesome woman in the Ruby on Rails community that you think should be recognized, drop us a line and we’ll feature her in a future post!