Meet the Team: Nicholas Shea

From the Blog

Nicholas is BlueConduit’s Data Scientist. Here’s a quick Q&A with Nicholas.

Why did you join BlueConduit?

I discovered BlueConduit after reading the academic paper that started it all – ActiveRemediation: The Search for Lead Pipes in Flint, Michigan. At the time, I was involved in a hackathon charged with building a lead service line tracking application based on open source data from my hometown of Buffalo, NY. After the hackathon, I reached out to Jake and Eric – the authors of that paper and our BlueConduit founders – and I’ve been working with the team ever since! I was motivated by the mission, values, and vision that have driven the company since its inception.

What professional experience and expertise do you bring to BlueConduit?

I come from a “traditional” engineering background. I studied geologic and geophysical engineering as an undergrad and became an Engineer-in-Training in the state of Arizona, which is pretty atypical for a data scientist. That experience helped me appreciate the large amount of trust and responsibility for public safety that we hold as engineers in these disciplines. 

My first jobs out of college were tech-adjacent, which helped me see the positive impact technology could have on heavy industry and public infrastructure – two areas that are sadly underserved by traditional tech. I was so inspired by the potential for further modernization in these sectors that I earned a Masters’ degree in computer science from Georgia Tech, with a specialization in AI and machine learning, and a degree in geostatistics from MINES ParisTech.

What does a day in the life of BlueConduit’s Data Scientist look like?

On the data team, we start our days with a meeting to align our team’s efforts and see how we can help each other. After that, I usually meet with clients to coordinate our projects. I’m on the West Coast, so most of my client meetings are in the morning. Afternoons are usually reserved for focused work on the codebase (i.e., developing and testing new software features and machine learning models, making improvements to existing models, etc.). This is often a collaborative process, so I get to spend time pairing with my colleagues and learning new and exciting ways to approach our tasks. I usually wrap up my day by updating the team on the progress I’ve made and creating a list of priorities for the coming day.

What work accomplishments are you most proud of and what goals have you prioritized for this year?

I’m really proud of our growth, both in terms of new team members and new clients! We have added a lot of new expertise to our teams and I’m really excited to see what we can create together to better serve all of our communities across the country. I’ve also enjoyed the recognition and media coverage we’ve received for our work. 

As for my objectives this next year, I’m trying to prioritize sharing – sharing our techniques and results with the technical community, sharing my knowledge with the rest of the team, and sharing our model outputs more effectively with stakeholders.

How do you spend your time outside of work?

My partner and I live in San Francisco, CA with our two dogs, Marshal and Monty. We all enjoy morning runs to the beach and afternoon strolls around the city and through the many parks within walking distance of our apartment. I’m also a member of a book club. We’re currently reading The Three Body Problem by Liu Cixin, which I can’t recommend enough!