Meet the Aries Team: Alison McKendree, Quality Test Engineer

Tell us a little about yourself – What did you do before joining Aries?

I have my bachelor’s degree in Biology and Spanish and was also certified nationally as Physician Assistant, working for a major medical institution for eight years. After a career change with two certificates earned at Northeastern – one in programming and one in technical writing for software – I had short stints in technical writing but became intrigued with the code about which I was writing. I then started developing for several smaller companies representing various industries – insurance, education, supply chain – before joining Aries in 2006.

What have your roles at Aries been?

Sixteen years ago, I joined Aries as a Software Engineer. The first specification assigned to me was the refactor of the EM Details page to .NET. Other specs I remember with fondness is one I whimsically refer to the “holiday manager,” and the modification of our merge code classes to use both People and Author data. In 2012, I was offered a role as an Automation Engineer and the chance to help create an automation test suite of 295 automated tests – based on Java, Selenium, testNG, and Jenkins. While moving to automating tests required a major change in mindset, I learned quickly that automating browsers is, well, just plain fun!

Since then, as our company-wide objectives have evolved, so have our automation efforts. After a year’s disability in 2020, I returned to a new role on Aries’ Quality Engineering (QE) team as a Quality Test Engineer and a new test automation platform, world class software development processes, and most importantly, a talented, personable, and dedicated QE team and dev team. Shout out to our Tlachtli squad!

What do you most enjoy about your job? What do you enjoy most about working for Aries?

Each one of us at Aries is working to help make the world a better place. We are building the software that is used by those who are changing the world for the better – researchers, scientists, medical professionals and more who are on the frontlines, working to remediate and eradicate the BIG problems such as cancer, mental illness, poverty, inequality, environmental degradation – to name a few from a list that is sadly too long. We should all be honored to be part of part of this larger mission to help disseminate human knowledge.

Tell me about some of your hobbies/interests outside of work.

Now that the weather has turned chilly, I will be picking up my knitting needles soon. One of the first projects this year will be an elegant, challenging two-color Celtic “brioche” pattern. Another favorite stitch: the two-color Fisherman’s Rib that forms a very attractive herringbone like pattern. I love the challenge of these stitches and the magic of a fabric and patterns emerging from simple strands of yarn. Other involvements include writing and supporting conservation efforts locally. I have written many lead articles for a town newsletter, “TreeTalk,” have designed conservation-related library exhibits and, with others, succeeded in saving critical habitat in the Ipswich watershed. Currently I am completing a memoir writing class, several essays, and a short story.