Engineering with Maggie Lagos

Sep 9, 2019 · 5 min read

Maggie Lagos is a software engineer at Rebellion where she focuses on building data pipeline components to intelligently process large volumes of mission critical information.

Tell me about your career journey thus far; how did you end up at Rebellion?

Maggie Lagos, software engineer at Rebellion.

“I didn’t expect to love computer science; I had declared myself a Mathematics major at George Mason University, but a month before classes started, I reflected on all the memories I had of debugging my family’s dial-up internet at age 10; programming LEGO robots to compete against other middle schools; and acing the C++ class my senior year of high school. Suddenly, changing my major to Computer Science didn’t seem too unusual.

During college, I loved the programming languages, the ideating and building, and problem solving that defines the computer science discipline. My internships also added a deeper layer to my understanding of how people’s lives are affected by decisions made in the product development process.

Prior to Rebellion, I was a developer and consultant with a major defense contractor where I led multiple internal projects for clients like Pfizer, Exxon, the Department of Veteran’s Affairs, and the Department of Homeland Security. I focused on building and deploying scalable ETL pipelines in the cloud, but I enjoyed the flexibility and creativity of working with small teams across several innovation efforts. Now that I am at Rebellion, I feel lucky to come in to a true start-up culture every day to focus on critical technology problems and be part of a product team that is transforming the way our government leverages technology.”

How do you settle into a day of developing code at Rebellion?

“I like to arrive early after getting a local coffee or matcha. I check over my calendar for the day and then Slack, looking in particular for any engineering discussions, relevant news, or pictures of Dino — Rebellion’s miniature Doberman Pinscher guard dog — I may have missed from the day before. Then I review my notes. I’m a person who needs to keep notes — mostly my ongoing TODO list and my daily activities, but also little problem-solution pairs or a new keyboard shortcut I learned.

If there’s no Merge Requests to respond to, it’s back to my editor and terminal and Spotify playlist kind of life. At least until the next engineer arrives. Then it’s always nice to check in on how we’re doing and see if there’s a way we can help each other!”

How do your personal values drive your work at Rebellion?

“I deeply believe in providing the best possible accessibility to users of all products I develop on because at the end of the day, whether you’re a user of the frontend or another developer using an API, you still want the thing you’re using to be easy to learn and serve as a productive tool. I have a great interest in the UI/UX field that started during college but it wasn’t until one particular assignment that I realized its other applications…

My team had to take an open source software (OSS) application of our choosing and add certain features, including multiple users and a way to login and access user-specific data. We decided to build on top of an interior-design/blueprinting application whose code was, well, incomprehensible and documentation lacking. You can imagine the final presentation discussed our challenges in depth. Since then, I’ve seen how OSS projects that clearly describe how to utilize them and are written in an easily-maintainable way are the ones that are most widely adopted and contributed to. Long live user-friendly backend software.”

(Personal aside: “Well, that and resourcefulness. That’s just a personal thing, like adding water when I get to the end of the soap and reusing containers whenever possible. You know, reduce, reuse, recycle. I don’t import things I don’t need and if I can do it in less lines, I will, especially if it can be reused. But still avoiding things that are hard to read. See above.”)

How does your work at Rebellion bridge the cultural divide between Silicon Valley and Washington, D.C.?

“The great irony and challenge is that the level of capability we expect from our personal-use technology is much harder to apply to a — granted, 3 million+ people — government organization like the Department of Defense. Bridging the cultural divide is definitely a team effort. Personally, I believe I can contribute through the quality of my workmanship, building for scalability, and high standards of personal integrity that I also recognize across the company.”

Now, to the personal questions! What is your most treasured possession?

“My most treasured possession is a pair of gold and opal earrings my dad got me as a kid. I remember when he picked them out for me one day after a piano lesson. They didn’t mean a lot to me then, but now they remind me of how much he’s inspired me. He was a mechanical engineer and was always fixing things, taught business classes while he was in the Peruvian Marines, but also was a total softie — he was always painting or drawing and it wasn’t until recently that I learned he used to design and make jewelry too. He just had this eye for the practical and the beautiful.”

Where in the world would you most like to live?

“Australia. Sure, there’s the whole most-deadly-animals-in-the-world situation, but I just really want to make a nice brekkie and eat it outside while wearing my sunnies during an 80-degree December day.”

If you were a cocktail, what would you be?

“Probably a hot toddy. There’s tea with lemon, honey, and a cinnamon stick which my family would make a pot of and sit together for in the evenings, buuut there’s also a healthy shot of whiskey in there. I like a nice bourbon.”

Bourbon is always a good answer. What was the last book you read?

“I’ve started alternating between different types of non-fiction and sci-fi/fantasy (to help motivate me to finish my non-fiction books haha). The last book I read was Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane which was haunting and beautiful. The book I’m on now though is fascinating — The Geography of Genius by Eric Weiner. It’s nonfiction, but feels like a time-traveling mystery to find out what secret ingredients are needed for an environment to nurture genius.”

About Rebellion Defense: Rebellion builds technology products using artificial intelligence and machine learning that serve the mission of national defense for the United States, United Kingdom, and our allies.

Our people are passionate about creating a company where technologists empower the military and our civil servants to solve some of the hardest problems in government.

We are hiring incredible software engineers and mathematicians to work on products that defend democracy, humanitarian values, and the rule of law. Learn more about us, or contact us at


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Rebellion Defense

Rebellion builds products using artificial intelligence and machine learning that serve the mission of national defense for the United States, United Kingdom, and our allies.

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