“I’ve always gravitated toward complex mechanical challenges, something that really tests and forces me to improve my skills,” he told us. “With TASER 10, there were a ton of technical challenges. It was something that had never been done before, so that was really exciting to me.”
Exciting technical challenges are a common occurrence for engineers at Axon. Axon is the leader in TASER technology as well as many other public safety technologies. Few competitors means there are no examples to study, and no roadmaps to follow. Engineers are constantly innovating because they have no other choice. According to Firmware Director Chris Tucker, “It’s kind of like working in James Bond’s lab.”
Designing the TASER 10
The jump from TASER 7 to TASER 10 was a paradigm shift in less-lethal technology. In order to achieve a maximum range of 45 feet, the weapon required a completely overhauled propulsion system. Ryan's work was integral in ensuring the TASER 10 could accurately take down threats from 45 feet, nearly double the range of all previous TASER models.
After six months of iterating, tweaking and testing, Ryan was finally able to deploy a TASER 10 prototype. The experience was exhilarating.
“You get in the range and that first trigger pull is nerve-wracking. Taking the first shot is really exciting, and it's something that doesn't really happen at other engineering firms or companies,” he said.
“I'm really proud of the accuracy that we're obtaining at 45 feet. I think that was a huge success for Axon and for my personal development.”
Mission and motivation
Put simply, Axon engineers come to work every day to solve this challenge and save more lives. Last year, the company announced a moonshot goal to cut gun-related deaths between police and the public by 50% by 2033. Put simply, the work Axon engineers are performing saves lives.
Before Axon, Ryan bounced from contract to contract on various consumer electronic devices. While interesting, his work didn't feel necessary or urgent.
“Then I came to Axon and realized that working on something that does change lives – and saves lives – is huge,” he said. “Our product needs to work and we have to solve these challenges, because there are lives at stake.”
Axon's audacious mission and innovative products are largely the product of a visionary Founder and CEO, Rick Smith. Chris Tucker mentioned he was only a few weeks into his tenure at Axon when Smith stopped by his cubicle with a suggestion for the TASER 10’s warning system.
“‘I really want this warning charge to sound kind of like Ironman charging up his beam,’” Tucker recalled Smith saying. “We’re like, ‘How do I make that into a sound?’”
But Tucker and his team figured it out, and when the sound debuted at TASERCON that year, the police officers in attendance commended the warning system as an effective de-escalation tool.
Feedback from a wide range of stakeholders, including public safety partners and civilian community members is a critical component of working at Axon. Many members of Axon’s staff are current or former law enforcement or military and all of us are community members with a passion to maintain public safety. The company is in constant contact with law enforcement groups and communities all across the country and around the world. Additionally, staff frequently experience ride alongs with police and other public safety customers.
All of this gives Axon engineers an incredible amount of access to their end-users, which means they can get instant and accurate feedback on their work.
“Axon makes sure that when it comes up with a concept, it goes back to the customer and says, ‘Is this what you were looking for?’” said Tucker. “If they say, ‘Not quite,’ we’ll iterate on it, refine that product and once we’re ready for it, we’ll try to change the world with it.”
Growth and responsibility
Axon places a lot of trust in each and every engineer. Leadership expects employees to tackle each task with their best foot forward, but is there for support when needed. At Axon, we aim far. It’s not about knowing exactly what to do every time; it’s about taking a risk, learning from any setbacks and knowing how to ask for help.
Support also means up-skilling engineers, whether they want to pursue technical expertise or master management. If you have drive and goals, Axon will push to help you achieve new heights.
“Axon has generally been very supportive of sending engineers off to go learn about optics or some other topic they’re interested in, to go improve and hone their skills,” said Ryan.
Tucker said he told Axon he wanted to become a better leader, and leadership obliged by finding him a training program.
“They put the opportunity in front of me and I made the most of it,” he said.
Protect life with Axon
If you’re an engineer ready to challenge yourself while making a difference, Axon is the right place for you. Our products streamline justice and save lives.
Explore the Axon job board for on-site and remote opportunities and apply today to write code and save lives.