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Inside DELTA: 5 Questions with Katie Richardson

photo of Katie Richardson sitting on a rock at William B. Umstead State Park.
Katie Richardson at William B. Umstead State Park.

PHP Web Developer Katie Richardson has worked with DELTA since May of 2016, but  prior to joining NC State, Richardson worked in the same role with East Carolina University (ECU). During her time at ECU, she collaborated with the ECU University Web and Application Consulting team that managed the distance education learning management technologies, the departmental websites and the ECU home page. 

Those early experiences gained working in academia gave Richardson a broader perspective regarding how she wanted to contribute and use her skills in the workplace. In addition, the diversity of her job with DELTA allows her unique opportunities to engage with both colleagues and faculty at NC State.

How would you describe your position at DELTA?

“My primary job is to maintain the WolfWare WordPress service from a programming perspective,” Richardson said. “At DELTA we provide and support our own WordPress instance through our online learning portal, WolfWare. WolfWare provides instructors with greater customization in terms of site availability and who can access their site, among other settings. It is the main learning management tool that instructors use to deliver content for their courses through a website.”

Additionally, Richardson manages WordPress upgrades and works on custom development for multiple websites within DELTA, including the DELTA home page, Teaching Resources, Testing Services, and Online and Distance Education, to name a few.

“My day-to-day activities are often split between longer-term projects for DELTA, ensuring upgrades to the WolfWare software, and handling WordPress support requests that come in,” Richardson said. “Juggling all the necessary tasks can be complex, but I get to do a lot of problem solving, which I enjoy.”

What is the best part of your job?

“With my type of degree, work experience and skill set, I feel that I could choose to work anywhere,” Richardson said. “But I enjoy working in the area of education. I feel like I’m giving back, and it feels more rewarding. DELTA is such a great organization, and I feel that I’m part of a bigger picture. In this setting, you get a unique set of issues that you would not encounter outside of academia.”

What is the most challenging aspect of your job?

Within DELTA, balancing the customers’ needs with the technical or resource limitations can be difficult to navigate, according to Richardson. 

“I work with instructors to manage expectations and ensure that we can provide the correct functionality for their needs without compromising our ability to maintain support for the project,” Richardson said. “Because we use open source software, we often face limitations on the projects that we can deliver for many reasons. The difficult part is explaining to a client why we cannot implement a function. We do have limited resources to support projects, so we need to be sure that we can provide each project with the on-going support it will need.”

What has been your favorite project that you have worked on at DELTA?

In her time at DELTA, Richardson has worked on multiple projects, but two stand out as her favorites.

“When I was hired, one of my first responsibilities was to set up a new WordPress service aimed at providing faculty with a space to host course content via a website format,” Richardson said. “This service eventually became WolfWare WordPress. Now I focus on maintaining the service and providing support as well as yearly upgrades.”

Richardson added that another favorite yearly project for her is the DELTA Annual Report. “I was part of the annual report team as we transitioned to adopting WordPress as the content management system,” Richardson said. “It continues to be a project that brings new challenges, and one that I enjoy watching come together.”

What do you like to do outside of work?

Richardson and one of her dogs, Riley.

Richardson acknowledges that anyone who knows her will speak first of her love of being outside and gardening. “I like to garden and grow anything and everything – from houseplants to ornamental plants in the yard,” Richardson said. “It’s so much fun to grow stuff. I have a terrarium that I work on, but my favorite plants to grow are chrysanthemums, which are so beautiful, and Japanese maples. I have a small army of Japanese maples!”

Katie also is an animal lover and has multiple pets, including three dogs, three chinchillas and a cat.

Richardson shared other information about herself that colleagues might now know. “Everyone knows about the gardening stuff, but people probably don’t know about some of my other hobbies,” Richardson said. “I played the marimba in the drumline of a marching band when I was younger and competed in international competitions. We placed third in a competition in 2010, which I’m very proud of. I am also hooked on Animal Crossing New Horizons, which I picked up during the pandemic. I like to keep busy!”

Picture of Katie (center front row) performing in the marching ensemble playing the marimba
Richardson (center front row) playing the marimba.