Life as an R&D Engineer

Q: What did you study (and where), and what attracted you to work at Calnex?

I studied Electronics & Electrical Engineering at the University of Edinburgh. I carried out two placements both at Calnex as a summer student in 2013 and 2014. I really enjoyed my time here and found the work to be interesting and challenging, so when Calnex offered me a permanent role, I was only too delighted to accept.

Q: How long have you worked at Calnex and how has your career developed?

I joined as a graduate Hardware Engineer in 2015. I started out working on 100G platform primarily doing hardware schematic design. The role gradually expanded as I got involved in integration, troubleshooting, test and characterization of our products. More recently I went on a VHDL course and started dabbling in FPGA design.

Q: What is it that motivates you in the morning and gets you energized about your role?

I am not really a morning person, but we do have some great free coffee here at Calnex which helps a lot, honestly, it’s fantastic!

Q: Please talk us through a typical day for you at Calnex?

One thing I really enjoy about my role is that there is no typical day for me. Depending on what stage we are at in any given project I might be doing design work, trying to debug a problem, writing documentation, reviewing other code or setting up a test system in the lab, etc. The variety of things I get to do makes sure I keep learning and never get uninterested.

Q: What do you enjoy most about your job?

Most definitely the challenge. We do difficult things well at Calnex and there is a great feeling of pride and accomplishment when you manage just that.

Q: Most challenging aspects of your job?

System integration. It is too easy to get lost in your own work and forget that at the end of the day it has to make up a larger whole. It takes a lot of effort and a lot of cross-discipline cooperation to bring everything together and make a quality product.

Q: What skills do you need to succeed in the job?

I would say two most important things are to have a drive to learn and attention to detail. We are always trying to push the industry forward and to do that we need to keep learning about the latest technologies and techniques. As for attention to detail – it helps in every single task. Catching errors early and avoiding problems altogether is the best way to succeed in the job.

Q: What has been your biggest success at Calnex?

Working on the Paragon Neo product. It was certainly, the most technically challenging and demanding project I was part of. It took a huge amount of team effort and I am glad I could make a positive contribution.

Q: What piece of advice would you give to anyone who wants to work in Engineering?

My advice would be to always seek advice and other opinions. Hardware issues are expensive and difficult to track down. An extra pair of eyes might help identify problems early or avoid them entirely. Better safe than sorry!

Q: What do you do for downtime?

I really enjoy basketball. I try to play some pick-up games whenever I can and I’m also a member of a team based in Edinburgh.

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