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A Visit To Thetus and Insights Into Their Solutions Engineering Culture


Last week I visited an engineering company in Portland, Oregon called Thetus Corporation (they focus on delivering capabilities for model-enabled analysis). I had seen/heard of Thetus before (via In-Q-Tel events) and have long been intrigued by their ability to turn problems into solutions using advanced analytical capabilities. Everyone who sees their capability thinks it is terrific and immediately thinks of use cases for it. As more context, in trade shows and conferences and expos I have observed that while some of their competitor’s booths and demo’s got larger and glitzier, Thetus keeps a focus on demonstrating real solutions to hard problems. Instead of spending their money and time and energy on massive booths at trade shows, they invest their time and energy on solid, steady improvements in their capability. Over the years since then I have often seen Thetus tools being used in complex DoD problems and government seems most pleased with the openness of the solutions.

I rarely get to Portland and was excited about stopping by Thetus HQ while in town. If you want to get a true inside look at a company, visit them on a cold, dark and rainy Friday afternoon – the only time I had available for the visit. The Thetus HQ is in a charming older section of downtown Portland. As soon as I arrived I knew that this wasn’t the typical high tech company. Full of old-Portland charm with exposed bricks and large floor to ceiling windows, the interior is designed to enhance information exchange with all the workstations open and collaborative. As I entered, I noticed a group of about 15 employees being briefed on Coding Tips by one of the senior engineers and their interest and enthusiasm for the subject was evident.

It’s no wonder they look like they are having fun, because the stuff this group works on is fascinating. I saw a bit of it at SPAWAR Systems Center Atlantic in 2010 when they did a pilot using THETUS technologies to use their semantic web applications to support AFRICOM intelligence fusion. Finding the needle in the haystack and being able to visually present the hunt in progress can be extremely complicated. Thetus tools, like Savanna, help make the process simple, while using open source tools that don’t lock in proprietary services and expensive long-range service contracts.

Walking though the facilities, I discovered that the workgroups were organized mainly by mission areas. Modern standing desks and large high-tech work consoles were interspersed with common areas for groups to collaborate. Employee enthusiasm was everywhere. The only sign of drowsiness evident on this late Friday afternoon was the three very friendly dogs whom were taking afternoon naps underneath their owners desks.

It was good seeing engineers at work. It is even better seeing the great capabilities they field to solve complex problems. For more see http://thetus.com ">http://thetus.com

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More Stories By Bob Gourley

Bob Gourley, former CTO of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), is Founder and CTO of Crucial Point LLC, a technology research and advisory firm providing fact based technology reviews in support of venture capital, private equity and emerging technology firms. He has extensive industry experience in intelligence and security and was awarded an intelligence community meritorious achievement award by AFCEA in 2008, and has also been recognized as an Infoworld Top 25 CTO and as one of the most fascinating communicators in Government IT by GovFresh.