February 28, 2018

1397 words 7 mins read

One Year Calling Innovations Home

One year ago this month, Cerner development associates in Kansas City moved into a new place to call home for their workdays, Innovations Campus. The first two towers that stand on this campus provide 805,000 square feet of workspace for more than 3,000 associates. Eventually, the campus will grow larger, including 16 buildings and 16,000 Cerner associates. As that growth approaches, it is important to reflect on what these first two towers represent for associates and their development careers at Cerner. The investment in this workplace is a testament to Cerner’s dedication to and appreciation of associate values. It is a reflection of who the people at Cerner are and what they strive to be.

Many of the features in the building were designed with input by associates, for associates. Other spaces and elements of the building were voted on by associates. A Momentum Wall, a series of installations that change and grow with Cerner’s culture and development platforms, capturing architectural history, open source projects and commits, a giant monthly calendar of events, and a continuously changing installation showcasing Cerner’s commitment to usability and solid design. Distinct “Neighborhood Nodes” were designed by committees of development associates to provide opportunities for associate to relax, learn, and create. The game rooms Bowser’s Castle and Flynn’s Arcade are a nod to the sci-fi and gaming culture popular among many development associates at Cerner. The Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings libraries house books and quiet work space for associates to get away and learn. The MakerSpace provides space, machinery and materials for associates to work on personal projects and think about work projects in a different way. Associates voted on various options for workstations and landed on a configurable option that provides flexibility in terms of work space and style. The Assembly provides a space for associates to share and learn, and creates opportunities for ambient conversations for those passing through a meetup or knowledge transfer session. On a normal workday at Innovations you can see how the physical elements embedded in the buildings contribute immensely to our development culture, from the collaborative layout of the campus with unique seating and whiteboards around every corner to unique representations of Cerner’s values and history composed in binary ascii. The functionality and aesthetics of the campus have enhanced the cultural experiences associates have had over the past year. In honor of the one year anniversary in Innovations, we’ve asked a few of our associates for their perspectives on the parts of the campus they interact with daily.

Associate Reviewer: Ann Dickey, Software Engineer

I love the MakerSpace Neighborhood Node. Not only because it’s given me a chance to learn and use tools I have never used before, but for the networking experience it has turned out to be. I’ve met dozens of associates across Cerner while babysitting a 3D print, or attending the Makerspace learning events the admins host.

We put together a group for ShipIt IX, where we used the MakerSpace to design and create a 3D printed notification template that hooked up with an Arduino and LED light strip we programmed to give the user notifications from their desired apps. ShipIt was a first for all of us, and we wouldn’t have had a project without the availability of the MakerSpace to do 3D printing and soldering. We all had a blast, learned a lot, and plan on doing another ShipIt in the future. Plus, now I have some great embarrassing photos of my team feeding each other ice cream and failing to properly use the outdoor exercise equipment because of the ShipIt scavenger hunt challenge. The funny thing is the MakerSpace is the one neighborhood node I did not vote for when the new Innovations was being built. I had never used a 3D printer, CNC, or laser cutter and, not knowing how, I wasn’t able to imagine a personal use for those tools. But the MakerSpace team put together great tutorials in their training and connected me to resources like Thingiverse and other associates co-using the space that now I am using the space at least once a month to create decorations or make utility pieces for around the house or office. The entire MakerSpace community has been a wonderful addition to my overall experience working here at Cerner. I’ve enjoyed the people, the projects, and the enthusiasm to help each other and share ideas.

The MakerSpace node serves as an associate space for innovation and exploration equipped with Ultimaker 3D printers, a soldering station, a CNC Carvey and an Epilog Laser.

A community of MakerSpace admins host regular workshops for associates to learn new skills or machinery such as this one featuring a laser project.

Associate Reviewer: Caleb Meyer, Senior Software Engineer

The new Innovations campus shows us that Cerner is a company you can grow with. The old Innovations campus (I’m still refusing to call it Realizations) wasn’t designed for programmers, and certainly not for as many as we have. My team is as collaborative as ever, but now we have space to focus and get good work done. The all wifi floors perfectly represent everyone’s preference to remain wireless (untethered) during the day.

My favorite feature of the campus is the Assembly. I’ve run the Python Developers’ Meetup since its inception across the road (at the former campus), and I remember how ill-suited the game room (8 byte café) was for it. The Assembly is perfect for meetups of any size, and the self-service microphones and projector rock. The DE Tech Talks we’ve had there have all been fantastic, and the external speakers’ Tech Talks are always good as well. When there’s not something going on, the furniture surrounding the Assembly is comfortable, and there’s plenty of outlets for working away from your desk without your battery dying.

Spanning two floors in the heart of Innovations, the Assembly is home to many cultural events such as meetups, Tech Talks (be sure to check out our YouTube channel for recordings of our impressive speakers), lightning talks, ShipIt presentations, and more!

Spanning two floors in the heart of Innovations, the Assembly is home to many cultural events such as meetups, Tech Talks (be sure to check out our YouTube channel for recordings of our impressive speakers), lightning talks, ShipIt presentations, and more!

Associate Reviewer: Ryan Grass, Senior Software Engineer

In many ways I feel the new campus is a reflection of the cultural shift Cerner took over half a decade ago to create a fun, creative, and interactive development culture. The cafeteria is practically a food court, offering a range of diverse choices that reflect our many individual associates’ tastes. The work areas are open, and modular, allowing for easy communication between associates; and creativity in customizing your work environment. The many nodes on campus offer creative outlets for innovative minds. Revenue Cycle uses Bowser’s Castle for monthly after work board game meetups. These are not only fun, but great ways to network within our organization. My team has even decided a few times to stay on campus rather than going out for team lunches and play board games over lunch. These have been great opportunities to bond, and become more relaxed around each other.

Classic and Super Classic Nintendo stations are in both of our game rooms, Flynn’s Arcade and Bowser’s Castle. Associates gravitate to these retro games when they need a short break to look at problem differently. Additionally, you’ll find many associates huddled around our foosball tables during lunch.

Pinball is one of the many arcade games we have on-hand in our two game rooms at Innovations. Game of Thrones seems to be a crowd favorite as we wait in anticipation for the final season!

Table tennis is a necessity at Innovations. On a daily basis you can find these tables full of associates looking for some mid-day competition during lunch.

We have two quaint library nodes at Innovations each with a unique theme: Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings. These spaces are designed for associates who need to escape their desks for a change or want to check out the hundreds of books Cerner offers ranging from technical, UX, medical and management.

Innovations has become an integral part of our development culture here in Kansas City. It has also become a showstopper in the Kansas City workplace architecture and development realm as it recently won the Special Judges’ recognition for the Kansas City Business Journal’s 2018 Capstone Awards. We are very proud of our newest campus and can’t wait to see how it grows and transforms physically and culturally over the new few years!