When he was ten years old, Gerald Vasend’s father, a South Dakota farmer, put him on a tractor, showed him the ropes and told him, “Ok, now go do it.” That early experience, along with the work ethic instilled on the farm, shaped Vasend’s approach to all of life’s challenges: to be unafraid by new challenges, resourceful in seeking solutions, then tackle it until it’s done. Although his career in IT bears little resemblance to life on the farm, these guiding principles remain true. As Senior Software Engineer with RSDC, Gerald climbs up on the tractor every day – and that, he says, is the best part of the job.
With a Master’s degree in computer engineering, the first phase of Vasend’s career was spent building military simulations for unmanned attack aircraft, and training simulations for the US Army. Project complexity increased with cross-agency simulations during employment with Jet Propulsion Laboratories (JPL), and the development of ground sensors for combat zone early warning detection.
Vasend has spent his career pushing the boundaries of tech to increase the safety and effectiveness of our military. Making the transition to Artificial Intelligence (AI), he has led teams that create the next generation military. He has used genetic algorithms to evolve solutions in the same way human development evolves: by selecting out the least effective solutions and further developing the strongest until the ultimate solution is achieved. His work has resulted in equipment diagnostics onboard Navy vessels to dramatically increase readiness. His work has also applied AI to cryptocurrency, where he applied machine learning to big data, spotting potential fraud through transaction pattern identification. He has even applied AI software development to big agriculture, working with Monsanto for variety selection and successful hybridization.
With his understanding and practical experience in military technology, processes and funding, and the vast potential of AI and machine learning, joining the RSDC team was a natural fit. As Senior Software Engineer, Vasend is a key contributor to the design, implementation, and evolution of the Defense Logistics Agency’s (DLA) AI help desk project. The DLA is a vital federal organization that provides materials and services to the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, ten combatant commands, federal facilities, and partnered and allied nations worldwide. With more than 80,000 inquiries coming in to the call center, a great deal of time and employee focus is dedicated to answering basic questions. Rather than software that uses a branching decision tree, which can result in response loops and customer frustration, RSDC has partnered with Amelia to utilize AI for tier one help desk inquiries. The result is a human-like interaction and rapid access the information needed. With the ability to connect disparate segments of data across the entirety of the organization, and learn the patterns of inquiries as the software runs, the new help desk is on track to accept the majority of calls in the coming year, freeing up call center employees to do what they do best: think critically and creatively.
When asked what he enjoys most about his work with RSDC, Vasend points first to the constant thread throughout his career: the opportunity to take on new and complex problems to develop new and simple solutions. This role allows him to be the ten-year-old on the tractor once again. Only this time, he is joined in the driver’s seat by a team of highly skilled, equally passionate professionals. “We work together to pull through big challenges. I trust in the ability of each of my team members, and they trust me. We’re pushing the envelope together,” Vasend said.
Contact us today to explore a partnership with Gerald and the RSDC team!