Who am I and what do I do?
As you already can see on this website, my name is Laurens van der Blom. I'm a Dutchie (no, not the doughnut), living in the nether regions of the Netherlands. More specifically, the region where delicious “ vlaaien” are extremely common all over the place: Limburg. My hometown is Maastricht.
My current employer is BCT, situated in Sittard, where I'm a software architect. I'm mainly responsible for the software architecture of BCT's software products (as the name obviously implies). Applying national and international standards is one of the primary things that I do when designing software, as this improves interoperability and compatibility of BCT's software products with those of others (just so you know: I don't like vendor lock-ins). Basically, I'm all about the ISO 25010 standard: Software quality and reliability are and should always be priority #1. I also specialise in matters regarding integrations, security (including ISO 27001) and artificial intelligence, so most of the time I keep myself occupied with those subjects. And at other times? Well, read on.
What do I think of things?
I have a strong view on how to tackle software projects and everything that revolves around them. Basically, an effective strategy to simplify complex software projects is to divide and conquer. A simple yet reliable architecture with minimal yet sufficient documentation is what one really needs. Y'know, KISS.
Most people just are terrible at complex and lengthy stuff, which is why people, myself included, tend to chop a big problem (such as a complex software project) into smaller problems (smaller projects) that are easy to tackle. The sum of the outcome of those smaller problems is the solution to the big problem. It also makes scoping much easier. Everyone working with software knows about the endlessly growing scopes that software projects suffer from. Ugh. As the world relies more and more on information technology, it has become a bitter pill one must swallow, though.
I also think it's important to work with concepts, visions and goals. What does one need? And why? What is the added value? What is already possible? How can it be generalised or abstracted? What kind of technology is already available on the market for use? Especially the latter is crucial: There are only a few things that one can excel in at the same time and put resources into. For the rest, just leave it to the others. This is why I believe standardised integrations of one's software product with other (prominent or powerful) software products using APIs are how things should be done, nothing more and nothing less. And, of course, not to forget, software products and their APIs must be secure. Security is such a hot item nowadays and cannot be ignored.
The combination of all of the above makes it possible to deliver the best, most standardised and secure software products that people and businesses need.
What do I know?
Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)
December 2019 - Present @ (ISC)2: Based on the Common Body of Knowledge (CBK) of 2018, CISSP covers the following Information Security topics: Security and Risk Management, Asset Security, Security Architecture and Engineering, Communication and Network Security, Identity and Access Management (IAM), Security Assessment and Testing, Security Operations, and Software Development Security.
Masterclass Elastic Stack 5.0
July 2016 @ goto; academy: Development of prototypes with tools and functions from the Elastic Stack 5.0: Elasticsearch, Kibana and Graph API.
Pivotal Certified Spring (4.0) Professional
January 2016 - March 2016 @ Pivotal: Architecture, development and validation of the following aspects of Spring 4.0: Container basics, Aspect Oriented Programming (AOP), Data access and transactions, and Spring Model-View-Controller (MVC).
Master Business Process Management & IT (BPM & IT)
January 2013 - July 2014 @ Open University of the Netherlands: BPM & IT primarily focuses on the problems in business processes and IT management, where their policies, implementation, integration and improvement play an important role. Business processes and their performance are analysed using methods from Business Process Management (BPM) and Business Rule Management (BRM), conforming to business objectives and improvements, using IT innovatively at the same time.
Process Modelling with BPMN 2.x
November 2012 @ Sdu Uitgevers: This training covers process analysis, modelling and improvement using Business Process Management (BPM) as well as BPMN 2.x, both as a management method and as a technical tool.
December 2011 @ LearnIt Trainingen: You think talking with people in meetings is easy? Well, think again. Because everyone is always so different and there are so many different opinions about any subject matter, it's key to talk about things straightly to the point, within certain time limits, while cooperating with each other and keep each other happy. Basically, it's all about effective and efficient meetings, including their social aspects. Personally, I recommend to follow a training about this early on in your career, because you'll need it your whole life. That's a long time, indeed.
Oracle Fusion Middleware 11g: Build Applications with ADF 11g
October 2010 @ Oracle University: This training covers development, testing and deployment of web applications using Oracle ADF 11g, consisting of ADF Business Components and ADF Faces.
Master Artificial Intelligence (BSc summa cum laude)
September 2007 - March 2010 @ Maastricht University: (Among others) Machine Learning, Multi-Agent Systems, Intelligent Search Techniques, Knowledge Management & Knowledge System Development, Foundations of Knowledge Representation & Reasoning, Information Retrieval & Text Mining and Games & AI.
Summer exchange programme Entrepreneurship
Summer 2006 @ Baylor University: Business Management is an important skill to start and manage your own company. This summer training covers many aspects regarding that subject and employs qualifications and skills from the Bachelor Knowledge Engineering & Computer Science (see next section) in a whole different way in order to create a start-up with an innovative software product. It was an exchange programme between Baylor University and Maastricht University. In short? It was interesting and fun!
Bachelor Knowledge Engineering & Computer Science (BSc cum laude)
September 2004 - July 2007 @ Maastricht University: (Among others) Machine Learning, Data Mining, Neural Networks, (Fuzzy/AI) Logic, Human Computer Interaction, Cognitive Psychology, Software Engineering, Databases, Graph Theory, Game Theory, Reasoning Techniques, Business Management, Calculus 1 & 2, Discrete Mathematics, Linear Algebra, Probability & Statistics, Chaos & Fractals, Object Oriented Modelling, Telecommunications & Telematics, Linear Programming, Mathematical Modelling, Mathematical Simulation and Operations Research.
VWO Gymnasium “Natuur & Techniek” and “Natuur & Gezondheid”
September 1998 - July 2004 @ Sint-Maartenscollege: Sounds strange to you? Well, don't worry. It's a Dutch thing. VWO stands for “Voorbereidend wetenschappelijk onderwijs”. Basically, it's my high school, where I've had preparatory scientific education (there you go, that's the literal translation of VWO) with mathematics, physics, chemistry and biology, among other different and (sometimes unfortunately) mandatory (by Dutch law) subjects. The Gymnasium part covers Latin, Greek and a whole lot of topics regarding ancient cultures.
Oh my, what have I done?
October 2014 - Present @ BCT: See above. No need to repeat it here.
Experience: Enterprise Architecture, Enterprise Integration, Enterprise Search, Business Process Management, Business Rule Management, Security, Scrum, Kan-ban, Cloud Computing, Spring (Java 8 / J2EE, including application servers/containers: Tomcat, JBoss WildFly, JBoss Fuse ESB), Elasticsearch.
September 2012 - September 2014 @ BCT: Analyse (business) processes and improve them; translate process models to concrete documentation; propose new solutions based on these analyses and guide customers in using these solutions; guide, plan and realise projects together with project managers; involvement in business development and solution engineering based on market developments as well as improvements in software engineering and enterprise integration; advisor and guardian of product and process qualities.
Experience: Enterprise Architecture, Enterprise Integration, Business Process Management, Business Rule Management, Liferay, SharePoint, ERP, PRINCE2, RUP, Scrum, Cloud Computing, Service Oriented Architecture, Java (J2EE, including application servers/containers: Tomcat, JBoss AS, Weblogic, JBoss Fuse ESB), XML, JSON, UML, Liferay, ERP.
May 2010 - August 2012 @ BCT: Develop web applications and portals for the local government of the Netherlands as well as other customers.
Experience: ADF 11g, Service Oriented Architecture, XML, (X)HTML, Java (J2EE, including application servers/containers: Tomcat, JBoss AS, Weblogic, JBoss Fuse ESB), JSP/JSF, EL, Groovy, SQL, UML, Liferay, ERP, Business Process Management, PRINCE2, RUP.
November 2006 - September 2007 @ Wizzard Web Solutions: Develop web applications and websites for several customers.
Experience: (X)HTML, PHP, Java, SQL.
What do I like?
Bootcamp ( HIIT), fitness, (obstacle) running, skiing, bicycling, dancing (latin and salsa), information technology, cars, karting and wintersport.
Other interesting stuff
2nd Place award at Academische Jaarprijs 2007-2008
June 2008: Assistant in presentation and promotion of the project regarding digital analysis of Van Gogh paintings in order to distinguish fake ones from real ones.
Volunteer “Maastrichts Mooiste” personal assistance for the physically impaired
May 2008 - May 2011: I've helped and accompanied elders during this period. Being hearing impaired myself, I know what it's like to need assistance. Sure, it's not always fun to be dependent on others, but I know providing help to elders dramatically increases the quality of their life, as they can be around with people and talk with them, or even do things together, such as taking walks in the nature. Even the little things matter, such as simply accompanying them at their homes and having nice conversations.
Volunteer workshop “Walking with Robots” in Bristol, England
February 2008: Assistant in building stands at and blogging about the “Walking with Robots” convention in @Bristol (now We The Curious), as part of a programme between the University of the West of England and Maastricht University. You may read more about it, including my written articles, at this blog (while it still lasts, the programme has already ended a long time ago).
Public data collector
October 2007 - March 2008: Just (manually) collecting data regarding Traffic and Transportation, Tourism and Recreation, as well as Economy.
Assistant-editor BNVKI and ICGA news magazines as well as theses at Maastricht University
December 2006 - November 2007: BNVKI stands for “Belgisch-Nederlandse Vereniging voor Kunstmatige Intelligentie” (translation: Belgian-Dutch Association for Artificial Intelligence). ICGA stands for “International Computer Games Association”.
Faculty METIS database administrator at Maastricht University
December 2006 - November 2007: Administrate, maintain and edit publication data of (among others) scientific articles for Maastricht University.
Member of study association Incognito at Maastricht University
September 2006 - July 2007: You know how it goes, being in study associations. It's all fun and joy, until it gets serious. Then we talk about serious stuff. No, seriously. Then it's mostly about organising activities for students in an orderly and timely manner as well as representing them in difficult matters.
Translator English to Dutch for quiz games
October 2005 - August 2006: Localise English quiz games to Dutch. I actually learned some new things while doing this.
What am I like?
I suppose I could summarise my personal traits as follows: Efficient, curious, eager to learn, self-critical, determined, innovative, social, sportive, patient, and especially performance-oriented as well as flexible.
- Laurens van der Blom, Sander Bakkes, and Pieter Spronck (2007). Map-Adaptive Artificial Intelligence for Video Games. 8th International Conference on Intelligent Games and Simulation (GAME-ON 2007) (ed. Marco Roccetti), pp. 53-60. (Presented at GAME-ON 2007).