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Over the past 14 years, St. Marys native Rich Yavorsky has played an integral role at National Instruments as a senior software engineer.
At the Austin, Texas-based company, Yavorsky, 36, manages a team of software engineers who are responsible for National Instruments' installer architecture.
"Hundreds of engineers for dozens of projects at work rely on our architecture to solve various integration and distribution problems," Yavorsky explained. "If you've ever installed any software from National Instruments (LabVIEW, LEGO Mindstorms, etc.), you've passed through my team's work."
Yavorsky is a 1994 graduate of St. Marys Area High School and earned a bachelor of science degree in electrical and computer engineering/psychology in 1998 from Carnegie Mellon University.
He is the son of Rich and Connie Yavorsky of St. Marys and the grandson of Helen Meloni of Force, Robert Meloni of DuBois and the late Beatrice and Edward Yavorsky of Johnstown. He also has a younger sister, Jen Tamburlin of St. Marys.
He currently resides in Austin with his wife and their nine-week-old daughter.
"My favorite aspect from an engineering perspective is that the company critically depends on our architecture to be timely and of high quality," Yavorsky said. "I believe in our company's mission of fostering innovation and discovery for scientists and engineers. From landing rovers on Mars to saving the environment to teaching children the principles of engineering, the success stories from customers are diverse and exciting."
Yavorsky added the company culture is one of innovation and and energy, and said several of his best friends work in the same building, many of whom he has known for over 10 years.
Telling people "no" is one of Yavorsky's biggest challenges. He often finds himself pushing back feature requests from other teams and upper management in order to preserve his team's release schedule.
"Our request list is always more than what my team can handle," he said. "I need to constantly work with management to properly prioritize work and decide what is to be deferred.
Yavorsky explained that 2011 was a difficult year for his team, as their project took on too much risk with too many late features added to their work. As a result, the months leading up to their project release were difficult and morale was low.
"For 2012, I helped right the ship. I kept our feature list well-scoped, quickly identified project risks and released well in advance of our committed dates," he said. "The team felt a sense of accomplishment and pride in the work, and so did I."
Yavorsky credits one of his former managers for his career development.
"He was not afraid to give me timely feedback. If my performance was subpar, he would let me know directly and in person. He would also give me direct measurable goals as to how I could improve with deadlines," he explained. "These goals motivated me, and I do my best to encourage that type of open communication with everyone I work with."
As long as the innovative projects and company culture remain the same, Yavorsky pictures himself working at National Instruments for a "good long while."
He credits his parents for sparking his interest in computers when they purchased a Leading Edge PC for Christmas for Yavorsky and his sister. The 512K RAM with no hard drive provided him with countless hours on that machine which he spent writing school essays and playing video games. Yavorsky took such a liking to the computer he dressed up as the machine the following Halloween.
"I think my father had a hunch that computing could have big career opportunities someday," he added.
Yavorsky said those interested in pursuing a similar field need to ask themselves if they find themselves thinking critically about what peers who are in the same line of work as you are doing; do you become impatient with those who don't do their job well and want to correct them?; do you admire those who do their job well and want to learn from them?
"If you have those thoughts on a regular basis, you're on the right track (be it engineering or most any other career)," Yavorksy noted. "Learning to convert those thoughts into real productivity and stronger professional relationships (as opposed to watercooler gossip) is a different skill, and that can be taught."
While living in St. Marys, Yavorsky worked on several solo endeavors such as door-to-door candy sales, as a paperboy for The Daily Press and selling corn at a stand on State Street. He also worked during the summers at Memorial Park.
"That (carrying money while on a job, such as with papers or candy sales), kids simply don't do in cities today because of safety concerns. Those experiences taught me the value of doing a job well when no one was watching, and being comfortable working with the public," Yavorsky said.
He quipped that walking around with cash in a bag and ringing random people's doorbells is unheard of in the city.
"I am very proud of being from St. Marys! The community in St. Marys was by and large safe," he added. "There was a large sense of stability in the area: students changed schools only because they graduated, teachers left their positions only because they retired, the playgrounds look the same as they did 20 years ago. That just doesn't happen in big cities. It's no surprise that I've been by and large happy working for the same company for the past 14 years."
Outside of work, Yavorsky enjoys long-distance running, a sport he took up in 1991 while enrolled at St. Marys Area High School and has always made time for. In December, Yavorsky received an invitation to participate in the Boston Marathon due to his high placement in the Dallas Marathon.
"I hope to run Boston in 2013. If I stay healthy, it will be my fourth Boston finish," he said. "I also learned to swim a few years ago due to a knee injury. I dabbled with triathlon for a few years,"
In 2012, he completed the Ironman Arizona which he described as a "truly incredible experience."
Yavorsky said he enjoyed his time as a member of the Elk County Striders and racing in local events. He added although he never knew Lee Foster, Jim Wortman allowed him the opportunity to read through Lee's running journals.
"You'd be hard-pressed to find a more dedicated and consistent runner than Lee, and I'm glad that the 5K and 5M are still held in his honor," Yavorsky said. "I love coming back home and running all my old routes, sometimes seeing people who I haven't seen in years. I hope to continue running for the rest of my life."
He documents his adventures in running through a fairly active blog about his pursuits at oakhillflyer.blogspot.com.
"My two-year stint with a knee injury taught me how to persist through difficult times, and to continually search for solutions that keep you optimistic," Yavorsky said.