Shawn Vernier

Automated Quality Assurance Engineer

Thought Leader in
Automated Quality Assurance

My career in AQA started in 2014 when I volunteered to spearhead a brand new AQA department. Over the next few years I was instrumental in establishing AQA best practices within the company, releasing company-wide frameworks and standards. These ranged from how to write test plans, reporting metrics, and custom-tooled in-house frameworks specific to our systems under test.

In retrospect, I'm ashamed to admit that most of that early work was inefficient and fragile. It was a perfect storm of my own inexperience, bad team practices, and bad company practices that lead to a poor quality AQA product. In a certain sense, it was unavoidable. In another, it was my own fault for not doing my own due diligence and only looking within the company rather then find wisdom from outside - in other words, don't automate the mess!

After that realization, I branched out and started seeking industry wisdom - only to still come up short. There's a dearth of thought and paradigms around AQA. Most that you can find is typically a footnote or a chapter in a tome primarily devoted to QA. Thus, I made it my mission to share my hard-won experiences as anecdotes and meld them with the best practices from related fields in software development, QA, and management to help proselytize Automated Quality Assurance!


Experience and Professional Skills

I started my career in 2013 with a 4-year degree in Computer Science. I started fresh as a baseline Software Developer learning the industry and trade. In 2014 I was given the opportunity to become a leading Test Automation Engineer, a role I thrived in ever since.

I have preformed testing in a myriad of environments from Java/Oracle to Microsoft CRM and from single-instance runs to large scale Cloud-based CI/CD environments with GIT integration in Jenkins and Octopus. My specific focus was in integration testing which started as point-to-point APIs and SQL queries which advanced to an event-driven architecture.

Assessing the needs of the entire organization is exceptionally important when designing these kinds of tests, and I often find myself communicating with a wide variety of people to zero in on their specific needs. Of course this would not be possible without a fantastic team. I have been very fortunate in cultivating an energetic team dynamic where new ideas can be shared openly and honest feedback is always well received.  


 

    Academia

    I graduated Bridgewater College in 2013 earning a 4-year degree in 3 years, with honors: Cum Laude, Flory Fellow, Philomathes Society.

    I took my academic career seriously: President of our chapter of the Association of Computing Machinery (ACM), a technician for the IT department, a Teaching Assistant in Computer Science and Biology, and a ranked officer in two martial arts clubs (Bushido [Eastern] and Comitatus [Western]). By my third year faculty and staff whom I had never met knew me by first name and my nickname among the student body was 'that guy that's always running across campus'. Fitting.

    Bridgewater College is what fostered my love of learning more then anything else in my life. Bridgewater had an intense focus on liberal arts education - educating the whole person. In order to graduate, you had to fulfill rigorous requirements in a wide variety of fields of study; it did not matter what your major is, you were expected to complete classes in art, philosophy, physical education, and all manner of hard and social sciences. The professors reinforced this idea. They were all passionate about the curriculum - it was not uncommon to have department chairs teaching introductory courses. 


    Avocations

    Ah yes, the all important 'free time'. As noted I have a varied taste in interests. I try to stay as active as physically possible in pursuing new opportunities and learning new skills.

    My current most engaging hobby is photography. My camera gives me the excuse to do many of the other things I otherwise have difficulty finding time for: hiking, biking, exploring and generally being active and outside. It is also very relaxing and zen-like, slowing down and taking in the natural beauty of your surroundings. I recommend Tony Northrup's book to anyone getting started; it teaches less about how to use a camera and more about how to identify or construct a good photograph via composition.

    Cooking is another pastime of mine. It is not uncommon for me to spend entire weekends in the kitchen tinkering with some new concoction while thumbing through recipe books. My favorite recipe book is Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day; there is nothing like fresh baked bread. If you want an interesting spin on your lunches, check out Effortless Bento

    I probably spend far too much of my time playing video games. To be fair, it was video games that originally got me into programming by creating custom Doom mods using ACS. My obsession with superb documentation also comes from my younger days when I wrote game guides (under the moniker SPV999). These days I usually prefer small, unique indie games over the typical AAA titles (though I am always on top of Nintendo's most recent offerings).

    One activity I wish I could resume is Swordsmanship, specifically German-style Fencing. The history, the biology, the tactics, the adrenaline - it was amazing. It was so easy to practice in college, but afterwards everyone has jobs or families or does not want to get hit in the head by a sword. Spoil sports. But seriously, if there is anyone near me that wants to arrange a group, drop me a line. For those interested, all the gear is available through Purple Heart Armory. Fighting with the German Longsword is the best primer for learning.

    Of course at the end of a long day there is nothing better then a nice cup of tea and some quite meditation, introspection, and reflection of the days events. Or whatever is trending on Steam or Netflix, you know.