Dwayne Koonce is the Senior System Developer at RoboKind. Before working with RoboKind, he worked as system administrator for an internet provider in College Station, Texas. While it met most of his living needs, Dwayne wanted to find a job that was not just challenging, but working on something exciting. Through a recruitment service, his search led him to RoboKind, a fledgling Startup company making waves in the education market. In the two years since joining, he has helped develop and improve the systems between Milo’s OS and hardware, and refined the data reporting process of Robots4Autism for schools utilizing Milo.
“The [recruiter] said, ‘well we have this one weird place that has robots and dogs wandering about all the time.’ And that sounded like a cool place to work.”
The difficulties of working with a school’s internet
One of Robots4Autism’s key features is data reporting. It is essential for teachers and therapists to track the progress of their students so they know what areas need improvement and provides living data that they can show to their education team as proof of meeting the individual education program (IEP) goals that are set for students with learning disabilities. Autism is unique in that most of the IEP goals set for students with autism symptoms are related to social behavior.
As any student who tries to use their school’s internet will tell you, schools have a closed off system that makes it difficult to connect with outside servers or unapproved websites. Because of this issue, Dwayne works to create pathways that will connect the privatize school network with RoboKind’s server to ensure that there are no breaks.
“A lot of schools have a very paranoid, conservatively configured network environment that makes it hard to communicate with our servers. We’re trying to make it as reliable in most situations for the robot to communicate with us.”
The “Wow” moment
Motivating your staff to meet deadlines and keeping them on task is a challenge for any company, big or small. For RoboKind, motivation isn’t hard to come by when you’re creating a product that is improving lives. The company encourages their staff to watch videos of children working with Milo, or read the success stories of families who have reconnected with their children, who they thought previously were unreachable.
Sometimes the company will hold a viewing of a recent recording that shows the impact of Robots4Autism. On one such occasion, Dwayne was invited to watch a video of a boy who had been in therapy for several years, who barely communicated with his therapist, open up and interact with Milo. It was a moment that proved to Dwayne that he is a part of something that is bettering the lives of others.
“[The Sales team] showed a video of one of the kids working with [Milo]. They told us the numbers, you know, the amount of time the kids were making eye contact with an educator or engaging with the material, versus the changes working with a robot. They leaned right in and engaged with [Milo] in a way that was just night and day difference.”
Dwayne’s Future Plans
The list of RoboKind’s clients continues to grow, especially with the recent launch of Robots4STEM, an education platform that helps children learn the basics of computer science. The need to create a reliable digital infrastructure that can handle client information is paramount to RoboKind’s success and one that Dwayne is more than ready to challenge.