What kind of backgrounds do information developers have in Johnson Controls?

Morgan McKinley 26.10.2017

We caught up again with Nevin Power, Information Developer in Johnson Controls to find out what kind of backgrounds information developers have.

With the rise of information developer opportunities in Ireland, we find more and more people interested in a career change to technical writing and information development.

From Da Vinci to Chapline - Strength in diversity

What happens when you gather together a person with a PhD in renaissance studies, another who worked as an imagineer for Disney, someone who worked for Boeing, and a geography Masters graduate? You might not have guessed it but you get world-leading technical communication and information development. 

In the last blog post about information development at Johnson Controls, I began by talking about Leonardo da Vinci and his impact on this relatively new and growing field. An engineer as much as an artist, his many interests and areas of expertise only served to make him a better information developer. It was a trait shared by someone far less well known but who might well be considered the first “technical writer” of the computer age. 

Despite not being a qualified computer or electronics technician, Joseph Chapline of Philadelphia wrote the technical documentation for the BINAC computer, mentioned in the last blog post, and the related ENIAC mainframe system. Holding a degree in history and political science, it might have been easy for those around him to foresee him joining the ranks of new civil servants as the US government grew in size through the 1940s. Instead Chapline became a research associate at the School of Engineering at the University of Pennsylvania. It was there that he brought together his disparate background in history, political science, and engineering research to craft an early technical writing course, through which he delivered over 200 classes to aspiring technical writers. All the while he pursued his other love, that of music and mastering the pipe organ, 15 of which he hand built in later life. His death in 2011 saw the demise of the first technical writer of the computer age but the variety of experiences which he brought to bear on early information development continue to be a cornerstone of the profession. 

Information development in Johnson Controls

Casting an inquisitive eye over information development within Johnson Controls we can see that variety and diversity are just as important now as they were to the professional development of early pioneers like Chapline. Much like Chapline, about 50% of information developers within Johnson Controls at One Albert Quay have graduated from the Humanities with English literature, history, philosophy, and politics being the most studied areas for those graduates.

While the technical aspects of access control technologies or fire suppression systems might not be core aspects of a humanities education, an ability to view a problem from all angles and translate researched solutions into cogent and succinct communications most certainly is. The other 50% of information developers have graduated from a mix of computer sciences, engineering, and business information systems. Their technical backgrounds are especially useful in developing and improving the process of information development itself. Whether that means exploring the use of APIs for content management or Python scripts for searching through legacy materials it all contributes to the end goal of excellent content and processes. 

With such diverse backgrounds, a strong sense of inquisitiveness runs through the very foundation of the team ensuring that information development at Johnson Controls never stands still. We constantly as important questions like:

  • Can a new user use this information to quickly understand a product?
  • How can we harness artificial intelligence and machine learning to push information development into the future?


By having such wide-ranging backgrounds within the team there are no blind spots, no time to remain static, and plenty of time to push the boundaries. With information development at Johnson Controls, our strength really does lie in our diversity.

For more information on current positions in Johnson Controls, please do not hesitate to contact us on 021 4260423.

Morgan McKinley's picture


Telecoms Engineer
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A strong long term prospect in an evolving team enviroment.
Experienced Scrum Master required!
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