Employee Focus: Michael Thiemann

Michael Thiemann has been at Riverside for 17 years and is a Senior Water Resources Engineer and Group Leader. He specializes in forecast and decision support system implementation, integration and administration, and hydrologic model development and calibration, as well as software design and maintenance. You’ll get on his good side if you bring him German candy while playing techo music.

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Soft pretzels and cheese are Michael’s go-to when he’s hungry and not concerned about sodium intake.

 

  1. What three traits describe you?

Driven. Reliable. Impatient.

  1. What motivates you to do what you do?  What are you most excited or passionate about in your career?

I like to solve problems and make things better within the current constraints. Doing it without constraints is too easy. And I like working with people who do not take life too seriously.

  1. Tell us your guilty pleasure.

A Manhattan in the evening, ideally with some good German candy.

  1. What’s the weirdest job you’ve ever had?

Weirdest: Weighting trucks full of fertilizer, not understanding the weird dialect of the local Bavarian farmers who drove them.

Grossest: Doing elder care and not having gloves around when big things happen (no pun intended)

  1. Who lives in your house (people, pets, etc.)?

Wife Gretchen, Hannah (14), and Lukas (12). All our pets have died of age or various sorts of neglect by the kids.

  1. Tell us something that might surprise us about you.

I lived in South Africa for almost five years as a kid.

  1. If you could have a dinner party and invite any four people, dead or alive, who makes the guest list?

I’m not big into dead people so:

  • Nelson Mandela – looked forward instead of backward, forgiveness instead of retaliation
  • Mikhail Gorbachev – ditto (at least for the first part)
  • Elon Musk – great visionary who actually does stuff (and has a weird name)
  • Angela Merkel – shows compassion against all odds
  1. What kind of music do you listen to?

What I grew up with as a teenager/young adult was techno, trance, industrial. It’s a good thing most lyrics are in German otherwise you would think I am disturbed. But I also love classical music.

  1. What is the greatest achievement you’ve accomplished in your life so far?

Raising my kids with them turning to be very good with music instead of becoming drug addicts (knock on wood!)

  1. You can only eat the same three foods for the rest of your life. What are they?

Soft pretzels. Cheese. Tomatoes. Or beer if that is a food???

  1. If you could witness any historical event, what would you want to see?

The fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.

  1. If you could choose a superpower, what would it be?

Patience, but right now, I don’t have time to wait for it.

  1. Tell us about your most unique travel experience.

Being stranded on a tiny Caribbean Island with little water and much alcohol, which the teenage me and my friends though was a good idea. Not so much after two days in the sun…

  1. Name a food item you wouldn’t touch with a 10-foot pole.

Anchovies. No anchovies, please!

  1. Tell me about your best friend.

He’s a great guy from Iowa, a dentist in town. He’s the best skier I know and as a true Midwesterner, he’s super nice and reliable.

    16. Tell us about your best live performance experience.

Seeing the Rolling Stones in a 100,000-person stadium in Munich. The stage was several floors high, and the music was so loud that we could hear it from a few miles away, when we had to park on the interstate since everything else was full. We hooked up with a gang of Scotts, who we could not understand at all. It was lots of fun.

     17. If you could choose one amenity to add to the workplace, what would it be?

Maybe Manhattans after 5pm? Or pretzels? Or cheese? Or beer? But, no anchovies, please!

Riverside employee recognized by NOAA

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One of Riverside’s biggest clients is the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, who’s mission is to understand and predict changes in climate, weather, oceans, and coasts and then share that knowledge with others. The Technology Planning and Integration for Observation (TPIO) program, which falls under the Office of Project, Planning and Analysis (OPPA), plays a key part in executing that mission by providing observing requirements data, observing system portfolio/architecture analysis, and analytical support to NOAA senior leadership. Riverside Technology has had dedicated employees working with TPIO since 2007, and one of those employees, Anne Kennerley, was recently recognized as OPPA’s Team Member of the month for May 2016.

Here’s the message sent by Suzanne Hilding, OPPA Director:

With impeccable dedication and commitment, Anne embodies the quintessential TPIO professional and support machine! Over the years, Anne has been instrumental in developing multiple aspects of what constitutes NOAA’s Observing System Enterprise Architecture. Going above and beyond, she excels in many roles within TPIO to include: observing system analyst, database curator, Executive Secretariat for the Observing System Committee (OSC), project co-lead with the Committee on Earth Observation Satellites (CEOS), TPIO webmaster and most recently data visualization expert! Anne’s ability to manage and coordinate all these activities to make meaningful and substantial contributions to TPIO is unprecedented. Anne knows how to do the job quietly and efficiently, her products are superb, and she is always looking for ways to anticipate and improve. As a critical TPIO team member, Anne is amazing, always performing with a smile!

Congrats, Anne!

 

The science of Riverside’s product marketing

For the last two years, Riverside Technology, inc. has been developing an innovative, affordable solution that will produce dynamic flood inundation maps in real time for large regional riverine flood zones. We call it RiverTrak™. Over the last 24 months, Riverside has been testing the technology and building a strong business case, but we realized additional market research was needed to find potential customers to identify product needs and understand RiverTrak’s value.

We partnered with Colorado State University to assist us with our product marketing by becoming involved in one of their marketing practicum classes. Along with three other companies, Riverside Director of Business Development Brian Ashe and Director of Marketing Cathy Sump presented a marketing challenge to the practicum class, which is designed to show students the difference between what they learn in a classroom and how businesses operate in a real environment. One of the students in that class, Kat Balster, immediately knew she wanted to be on the team working with Riverside. The challenge focused on market research for RiverTrak, meant to identify the value behind the product, determine our initial target market, which potential customers were a good fit and should be contacted, and how to get meaningful information from conducting interviews.

Of the marketing practicum course, “Advanced marketing students thrive in environments where they can apply all they have learned in their coursework to a real business problem,” said Dr. Kelly Martin, Kat’s practicum professor. “As a land-grant university with an outreach mission, CSU is always interested in forging meaningful local business relationships. Working with Riverside was the epitome of how well a corporate partnership can enhance student learning objectives.”

Kat explains the rest:

“By the end of the practicum, I felt sure that I had only begun to scratch the surface of the best way to go about segmenting the market and providing meaningful data to the company. I proposed the idea of continuing to work on the RiverTrak product as the focus of my thesis, and both my advisor and the marketing team at Riverside agreed.

As a Marketing major, one of my primary goals was to identify the segment of the market in which the product fit. You can have the most well-developed product, and it won’t sell if you have misidentified the market. Riverside had already made the decision to focus on communities and municipalities, so I concentrated my thesis on creating a marketing strategy to segment the thousands of cities in the United States into a reasonable quantity for us to conduct market research.  We called the strategy I developed “CityFit.”

One of the initial assumptions I made was to use the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) Community Rating System (CRS) as a benchmark to evaluate communities that had already invested time and money in flood mitigation.  However, there are around 1,300 communities currently in the CRS, so I further narrowed the list by focusing on communities with preferred scores, eliminating coastal areas, and taking counties out of the equation, which still left 212 cities. The final criteria I employed to get the list down to a manageable number was the dollar amount of damage the cities had endured as a result of flooding within the last 20 years.  This slimmed the list down considerably to a manageable 118 cities.

I then evaluated the 118 cities based on population, economic stability, quantity of NFIP policies, and how many credits they had already been awarded through the CRS for flood mapping. In the process, I created a database of communities with a multitude of relevant data points, so it can be analyzed in a number of ways to continue to develop our target customer pool.

My thesis clocked in around 100 pages, and I knew there was nowhere else I would rather be than continuing the work I had started at Riverside. Fortunately, I was able to join Riverside full time as the Product Marketing Coordinator almost immediately after graduation and pick up where I left off, but now with a much broader perspective of the science and technology behind RiverTrak and the way it can benefit communities and individuals.

In my new position, I have been able to reach out directly to potential customers. I get to make immediate use of feedback from these communities, and I will also be involved in other product marketing activities at Riverside, including assisting with our beta test, developing marketing materials, and planning and executing the product launch.”

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Kat graduated Cum Laude from Colorado State University in May 2016 as a Business Honors Student with a concentration in Marketing and English minor.  She worked in healthcare for the last ten years, most recently at Poudre Valley Hospital as a Radiologic Technologist. She is married to husband Darren, who works for G.E., and they have two children: Larisa (10) and Isaac (8). They live in Loveland.

Water Management made simple with our Irrigation Water Accounting Program

Riverside Technology, inc. focuses on a wide variety of water-related issues, and helping irrigation and ditch companies manage day-to-day operations is part of that portfolio. Beginning in 2007 through a project with the North Poudre Irrigation Company in Fort Collins, Colorado, Riverside developed and implemented an Irrigation Water Accounting Program (IWAP), which is a database application designed to help irrigation, ditch, and reservoir companies manage and automate their operation and reporting activities. Our application allows irrigation companies to manage water orders, keep track of water usage, issue work orders for ditch riders, and generate a variety of useful water accounting and other reports.

The IWAP was implemented for NPIC using SQL Server and Microsoft® Access software. The system is intuitive, easy to use, requires minimal training, and is designed for simple maintenance and automated off-site backup. The IWAP also interfaces with the ditch company’s Geographic Information System (GIS) database. Because the system was designed to be easily adapted to other irrigation companies, we’ve continued to implement it throughout the state.

Project examples:

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Riverside’s Irrigation Water Accounting Program is an innovative tool for strategic long-term water management.

North Poudre Irrigation Company – NPIC has more than 600 shareholders and provides about 40,000 acre-feet of irrigation water to as many as 27,000 acres through 150 miles of ditches and 300 headgates and turnouts. NPIC required a database application that efficiently managed the water delivery system and allowed the water clerk to receive water orders from shareholders, provide work plans for the ditch riders, and track water usage at various levels. The IWAP deployed for the 2007 irrigation season has been in use successfully ever since. Riverside continues providing on-site and phone support, off-site database backup and verification, and enhancements to the functionality of the system.

Louden Irrigating Canal and Reservoir Company – In 2012, Louden selected Riverside to adapt, install, and support our IWAP for their company and enhance the software by adding functionality and reporting capabilities at their request.

Home Supply Ditch and Reservoir CompanyRiverside provided Home Supply with technical support services for the IWAP beginning in 2013. This included reviewing the existing reporting functionality and developing modifications so the company could properly report remaining balances under early water conditions. Riverside also reviewed the Home Supply database for errors and provided a revised database version and updated workflow procedure.

Handy Ditch Company – For our latest project, Riverside is working with this Berthoud-based ditch company, which was established in 1873, to develop a customized IWAP; install the IWAP on their computers; provide local database backup capability; and provide phone and on-site support during the 2016 irrigation season.

Riverside’s Irrigation Water Accounting Program has the following capabilities:

  • Multi-user database (SQL Server Express)
  • Support for mid-season shares transactions
  • Support for multiple water types (e.g., early water, agricultural, and multiple use)
  • Allows mid-season change in appropriation
  • Reports water usage summarized by account, location, and time period
  • Supports water rental by volume, water type, or number of shares
  • Shows water usage trends through multi-year water usage reports
  • Has a backup feature for off-site data backup
  • Uses water types in priority order
  • Allows for “use it or lose it” appropriation where early water can be used outside the seasonal allocation up to a cutoff date
  • Fits the needs of different irrigation companies – flexible, customizable, and adaptable

Riverside’s IWAP is an innovative tool for strategic long-term water management, providing key data for irrigation, ditch, and reservoir companies to make more informed decisions about their daily operations.