Working at Nava

A day at Nava as an infrastructure engineer

Wei Leong, an infrastructure engineer working on the Medicare Payment System Modernization team, describes coding in legacy systems and working at home during the pandemic.

It’s hard to describe what a typical day at Nava is like because no two days are ever the same. Every day brings new projects, challenges, and opportunities. So we’re sharing just a glimpse of what work is actually like for different people at Nava. Here’s what Wei Leong, Infrastructure Engineer has been up to lately.

Infrastructure engineer, Wei Leong working from home.

Infrastructure engineer Wei Leong working from home.

Current projects

I’m working on the Medicare Payment System Modernization (MPSM) project. MPSM modernizes the Medicare payments system. This system affects approximately 57 million people who depend on Medicare and processes over $500 billion in claims each year. It’s a vital service.

But the current system is about 40 years old, runs on millions of lines of COBOL and assembly language, and is deployed to mainframe computers. Our job is to build a platform that enables different teams to deploy and operate their services using modern tools such as Terraform, Docker, and Amazon Web Services (AWS).

Right now, we’re in the midst of two migrations: in one, we’re updating our infrastructure configuration from Terraform 0.11 to 0.12; and two, from Elastic Container Services (ECS, an AWS service) instances to AWS Fargate. We’re also working on standing up infrastructure for public APIs that we plan to roll out in the future.

It’s an interesting project because it provides the opportunity to work on some legacy technologies that aren’t common today. You don’t get to integrate decades-old and modern technologies very often.

On the day-to-day

I tend to get a lot of my coding/implementation work out of the way in the mornings. Because I’m on the East Coast — our team is distributed across the country — I start the day earlier than most. It’s a good time to do more quiet, focused, solo work.

We operate on two-week sprints. On the last day, different teams within the MPSM project get to demo what they’ve been doing over the last couple of weeks. Recently, I demoed a deployment pipeline using a Jenkins shared library that our team has been working on. The goal of these demos is to share one or two highlights with stakeholders, including people from government and other contractors on the project.

Favorite part of the day

My favorite part of the day is usually in the afternoon, when everyone is available to either pair on certain tasks or collaborate on system design and research projects. A lot of our collaboration is done over Google Meet, Zoom, or even Slack messages.

If I’m stuck on a problem, someone’s around to help me resolve it because everyone, regardless of where they are, is available during this time. It also enables me to better understand what other people are working on.

On working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic

I usually work out of the Washington, D.C. office, but like everyone else, I’m working from home right now. My partner and I rotate childcare responsibilities every few hours, but we don’t have a specific schedule. (We had one but it just didn’t hold up.)

My team’s been very understanding and accommodating of my (sort-of) chaotic schedule. I just make sure to communicate when I’m available and when I’m not. Usually, meetings or discussions can be moved to accommodate.

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