Protocase, Part III: Q+A With Douglas Ronne

Douglas Ronne at work at Protocase.

Two weeks ago I posted a photo tour of Protocase, Inc, a Sydney-based manufacturer of custom electronics enclosures. Last week I ran a Q+A with the co-owner of that company, Doug Milburn. This is a Q+A with their lead software developer, Douglas Ronne.

1. How old are you?

I’m 36.

2. CB born and raised? Or recent transplant? (Plus whatever biographical details you feel like giving – age, education background, employment background, hobbies, family, etc).

Some of both. I was born in Baddeck; my family lived in Barra Glen, outside of Iona, when I was born. There was another family that lived near us that our family was friends with. Most of my family moved back to Olympia, Washington when I was almost 6; leaving my uncle and two cousins in Cape Breton.

I grew up on a clam farm in Olympia, and went to university for a Masters of Science in Mathematics. From there I moved to LA to work as an engineer in a large firm and later co-founded an engineering company in Oregon designing electric motor controllers. My specialty is in embedded software.

Almost 4 years ago I returned to Cape Breton for my Cousin Faith’s wedding. My mother came too, and she looked up her old neighbor Gail before we came. Gail had a daughter that I used to play with, we met and it felt like love at first sight! So I came back to visit and then moved here and married her!

I’ve always considered myself an “Outdoor Nerd”, ie, a nerd who goes outside a lot and loves biking, hiking, snowboarding, and the water.

Alicia, Douglas, and Douglas’s cousin, as kids.

3. “What are you up to these days?” I.e. what do you do for a living, what are you working on, are you a student, in the workforce, etc?

I am the Lead Software Developer for Protocase Inc. Our team works on CAD software (computer aided drafting) and business software for Protocase. I also am getting back into embedded software and electric vehicle system development.

On the side I help my wife Alicia with local food stuff whenever she needs computer type work or tables set up at the Baddeck market.

4. What is a typical “day in the life” for you, during the week?

Work day type one:

Get up, make breakfast for my wife and kids, walk the dog, drive to Sydney, talk to my team about the projects they are working on, answer customer questions about the CAD software, select an improvement to the software, and write code. I will often go to lunch with my co-workers or Alicia and my favourite place is the Whitney Pier Deli. Go back to work, leave around 5 or 6, go home and either make or eat dinner depending on whether it is ready. Talk to kids, work on some side project, go to bed. (I need to add some exercise in there somehow.)

type two:

Get up, make breakfast for everyone, go to my basement office and work. Generally I take lots of breaks and do the laundry, clean a little, walk the dog, maybe go for a bike ride. Meet the kids when they get home from school and see how they are doing, have a snack with them. Make dinner, pick a kid and make them clean up. Work on a side project or watch Allo Allo, go to bed.

5. How did you find the job you’re currently at?

I met Doug Milburn at a TecSocial event and he offered me a job and here we are! TecSocial events are something that InnovaCorp puts on the first Thursday of every month at Membertou Trade and Convention Center.

6. What would you love to be able to tell young people looking for jobs in this field? What should they all know about Cape Breton, that they might not be told in school?

There are many software companies here. Computer programming is a good field to work in! You have flexible hours and it is challenging work. Protocase also frequently has openings for mechanical engineers. Other types of engineers are also in short supply.

Don’t be afraid to work hard for what you want and don’t be afraid of failure – it is the best teacher there is. We don’t usually regret what we did, we regret what we did not do! Keep your options open so you can take advantage of opportunities.

7. What are your favourite CB eateries and food sources?

Whitney Pier Deli for lunch, Telegraph House in Baddeck for their local dinner special. My family and I eat a very local diet as much as possible. We grow some food, buy from the farmers markets, belong to a CSA farm share program and buy from local farmers directly. My wife is a local food fanatic and blogs at

8. What are your favourite things to do outside?

Bike, hike, snowboard, sailing, rowing, paddling, swim in the river, and riding a motorcycle.

9. Are you planning on sticking around in CB? Why, or why not?

Yes, I love the place. Also my wife is here, my job is here, and my kids are in school here.

10. Finish this sentence.: Cape Breton needs…

Not much actually! The economy is not that bad, the people are great, and the outdoors are excellent! A Thai restaurant would be nice though.

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5 Responses to Protocase, Part III: Q+A With Douglas Ronne

  1. Sandy Sinclair says:

    What a great autobiography!! If I was looking for a place to live and work this page of yours would surely be one i’d read and consider—Uncle Sandy, the Alaskan fisherman

  2. Jeanie Dodd says:

    I agree Sandy!

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