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OT: What do you do for a living & how did you get there?

Discussion in 'Embedded' started by infamis, Feb 17, 2006.

  1. infamis

    infamis Guest

    Only if it's involved with embedded systems. What is your job, or what are
    your "duties", and what type of education did you get? Self-trained, college
    & your major, internships you may have taken along the way, etc...

    I'm trying to see the different paths people have taken from their interest in
    embedded systems.

    Lastly, are you happy? Do you regret anything & if so, why?
     
    infamis, Feb 17, 2006
    #1
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  2. infamis

    larwe Guest

    Every day, I regret that access to Usenet is uncontrolled.
     
    larwe, Feb 17, 2006
    #2
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  3. infamis

    Guest Guest

    Ooh, interesting question.

    I'm working for a company that does cryptomodules for secure packet
    processing and key exchange.

    We sell chips and boards with APIs to drive them. I split my time
    between writing embedded code, writing test code, and supporting
    customers when problems crop up.

    I went to school at CalTech and studied microprocessor-based systems
    and VLSI design, picking up a little software along the way. After my
    sophomore year microprocessor class series, which involved building
    microprocessor-based projects like calculators, car alarms, and the
    like, I applied to become a TA for the classes. When it came time to
    look for a job the next summer, I asked the instructor if he was aware
    of any former TAs who had started businesses in the area, and got a few
    good leads to sharp people well-placed in their companies, and I they
    appreciated what my background was.

    I took a summer job with one of them and I'm still working there 18
    years later having gone through assembly language programming, board
    design, chip design, bringup, chip test, firmware development, software
    test, windows software, customer support, project leadership, etc.

    I think the biggest positive was getting some work experience early on.
    That job as a TA was a terrific springboard, and making connections
    through the instructor was incredibly helpful.

    Somewhere along the way, I decided to switch from hardware to software.
    My first big chip design project took three years to get through and
    teh requirements changed about 9 times along the way, which was a
    little too much frustration for me. I decided I needed to work one
    something with a shorter time-scale or that was a more flexible medium.

    At this point, I'm very happy with the whole thing except, perhaps, for
    two things: 1 - The field is pretty esoteric, such that I can't really
    talk about my day with my family, which can be kind of separating. 2 -
    Depending on the situation, the hours can be pretty heavy sometimes.

    College taught me lots of great stuff about how to do the job, but
    nobody ever really talked about what the career was like at the time I
    was choosing a major, and I think that was a real shortcoming.

    On the other hand, I've got an enjoyable job that pays well. I can take
    care of a family of 7 and own a big house in Southern California on it,
    so it's hard to complain.
     
    Guest, Feb 17, 2006
    #3
  4. infamis

    Guest Guest

    Yours, or other people's? ;^)
     
    Guest, Feb 17, 2006
    #4
  5. infamis

    JohnH Guest

    Ask your ISP to revoke your newsgroup login, problem solved.
     
    JohnH, Feb 17, 2006
    #5
  6. infamis

    Guest Guest

    Lastly, are you happy? Do you regret anything & if so, why?
    Your access, or other people's? ;^)
     
    Guest, Feb 17, 2006
    #6
  7. infamis

    Jim Stewart Guest

    I must have wasted 2-3 minutes trying to come
    up with a good reply to the parent. You captured
    my feelings exactly.
     
    Jim Stewart, Feb 17, 2006
    #7
  8. infamis

    infamis Guest

    Well, since you already wasted 2-3 minutes, why not post what you originally
    felt.
     
    infamis, Feb 18, 2006
    #8
  9. infamis

    Jim Stewart Guest

    What I felt was a loss of words to describe what
    I wanted to say. Lewin nailed it.
     
    Jim Stewart, Feb 18, 2006
    #9
  10. infamis

    infamis Guest

    What's wrong with my question? I'm curious.
     
    infamis, Feb 18, 2006
    #10
  11. infamis

    larwe Guest

    This is why I'm an author ;)
     
    larwe, Feb 18, 2006
    #11
  12. infamis

    larwe Guest

    Take a look at my headers.
     
    larwe, Feb 18, 2006
    #12
  13. The simple answer to the first paragraph of questions is see my web-site. It
    is at least a good flavour of what I have been doing for the past 36 years
    and where my interests continue to be focused. If I had any regrets or
    wasn't enjoying any of it I would be doing something else.

    --
    ********************************************************************
    Paul E. Bennett ....................<email://>
    Forth based HIDECS Consultancy .....<http://www.amleth.demon.co.uk/>
    Mob: +44 (0)7811-639972
    Tel: +44 (0)1235-811095
    Going Forth Safely ..... EBA. www.electric-boat-association.org.uk..
    ********************************************************************
     
    Paul E. Bennett, Feb 19, 2006
    #13
  14. There was nothing wrong with your question, and I am embarrassed by the
    response from this newsgroup.

    I have been working in embedded systems for over 30 years. I did it the
    hard way, without finishing a degree. I worked my way from bench technician
    into hardware engineering and then into software/firmware. I left a
    perfectly good engineering position to go into consulting, and grew that
    into a consulting company. My hardware designs are/were in use at major
    medical manufacturers, news wire services, marine equipment, meterological
    systems and more. I have embedded software in all of those plus others.

    Happy? Yes, but a job alone can not account for that. Happy with the job?
    You bet. I can't imagine anything to do that would be more fun, more
    exciting or more challenging.

    Two caveats. One, I don't recommend taking the hard way into this field.
    Although I primarily hire engineers with a degree, I hire non-degreed
    engineers with proven experience, but they are a distinct minority. Get
    some good technical schooling and intern on the way into a career. Two,
    love what you do. If you don't, it's just another job.

    Scott
     
    Not Really Me, Feb 20, 2006
    #14
  15. infamis

    Tim Wescott Guest

    I'm a consultant, pretty much for anything my clients think is worth
    what I charge but avoiding medical equipment and other high-liability
    areas. So far the business has primarily been in control systems and
    communications systems. I _can_ do hardware, but so far I've just been
    paid for algorithm development, pure consultation, and a bit of FPGA work.

    Education is a Masters of Science degree, wherein I wrote a thesis but
    didn't defend it*. I concentrated on control systems in my
    undergraduate, then did a Master's thesis in communications systems.

    I started out expecting to build analog circuits. This expectation
    started rotting as I was building the radio receiver for my Master's
    Thesis -- the demodulator time base was just too drifty, and the most
    convenient more-stable timebase I could come up with was the crystal
    oscillator in the microprocessor that _had_ been intended to just run
    the front panel. Several months of hard work and (as I see now) bad
    code later it was demodulating data at near-optimum levels, while using
    _only_ 98% of the available processing power (400 baud MSK with a
    Motorola 68HC11 with an 8MHz clock).

    After that I entered the professional world somewhat obliquely -- I got
    hired by the brother of a friend, who gave me the title he wished he
    could afford to support. I was supposed to design hardware as my main
    job, and help with assembling PCs in my spare time. Somehow my "spare
    time" was 90%, and actual design work was only 10%. But that got me
    enough lines on my resume that I could get a better job a couple of
    years later, which in turn led to an embedded systems programming gig
    that lasted nearly 10 years.

    The only two things that I regret are:

    1. Not setting my sights on a doctorate from day 1 -- I pissed away
    several years of extra, unrelated study getting my BS, and it never
    occurred to me that I could, or would want, a doctorate until it was too
    late. If any parents, teachers, or academic advisors are listening: it
    didn't occur to me _at all_ that a doctorate would be a good thing until
    it was pointed out during my Master's program -- and by then it was too
    late for me. If you get a smart one point out that PhD as a possibility.

    2. Not pursuing internships. Once I got toward the end of my too-long
    BS program I just wanted to get that dang sheepskin, so I didn't try to
    get one. I think I could have started rising earlier and faster if I'd
    had a chance to prove my competence before graduation.


    * There's quite a bit of latitude on this in the US -- I could have just
    done more coursework, but I figured writing the thesis would be good for
    me, and it has been. I could have chosen to sign up to defend my
    thesis, but by that point I was pretty burnt out and was horrified that
    something might come up to stretch the process out.

    --

    Tim Wescott
    Wescott Design Services
    http://www.wescottdesign.com

    Posting from Google? See http://cfaj.freeshell.org/google/
     
    Tim Wescott, Feb 20, 2006
    #15
  16. infamis

    JohnH Guest

    Ok, you could block port 80 traffic on your router then.
     
    JohnH, Feb 21, 2006
    #16
  17. infamis

    Geoff Field Guest

    I live in Melbourne, Australia. I did a Bachelor in Electrical and
    Computer Systems Engineering at university, finishing around 20
    years ago. My first job was mistake (they wanted somebody
    who could actually draw), but my second job involved electronics
    design for (mostly) whitegoods controllers. This naturally led into
    micros (the now venerable 8048 series).

    I'm currently a Software Team Leader at an automotive electronics
    manufacturer (my ninth employer). My duties mostly involve project
    management for the software side, reiewing work, managing people,
    etc.
    Yes, I think I'm happy. I seem to be good at my job - or, at least
    good at making others think I'm good at my job - I earn enough
    to keep my family quite comfortable, I currently work close enough
    to home so even I can ride my bicycle to work at least once a week,
    I can get home in time to spend time with my kids. My work is
    reasonably secure - my employer is a large multinational who seems
    to be routing increasing amounts of work our way.

    Regrets? Nothing major. Possibly I could have taken the management
    stream a little earlier, but I'm not sure *I* was ready for it then.

    Geoff
     
    Geoff Field, Mar 5, 2006
    #17
  18. infamis

    larwe Guest

    Warning: A PhD _restricts_ your employability in industry. For example,
    at a large company, it is more or less stated policy to hire PhDs only
    into open-ended research positions, of which there are very few.
    Engineers and engineering managers working in actual product
    development are expected to have a BS or MS.

    The perception is that PhDs are professional scholars, or at least that
    is how it as been explained to me.
     
    larwe, Mar 5, 2006
    #18
  19. infamis

    Tim Wescott Guest

    Yes, but had I obtained the PhD at a young enough age I would have
    pursued a university career, with (hopefully) a nice mix of basic
    research and teaching.

    At this point I'd have to win the lottery. I've spent so many years
    doing actual (gasp) practical stuff I'm not sure I could stand a
    university research environment, particularly since my specialization is
    in control systems which can be pretty remote from the real world. The
    teaching part would still be fun, though.

    --

    Tim Wescott
    Wescott Design Services
    http://www.wescottdesign.com

    Posting from Google? See http://cfaj.freeshell.org/google/
     
    Tim Wescott, Mar 5, 2006
    #19
  20. infamis

    larwe Guest

    So you WOULD have been a professional scholar :)
    You know, it's a rather sad and evil thing that you say this (but I
    agree with the sentiment, by the way). Of all disciplines, one would
    expect engineering to be the one where university work and practical
    work come closest. Maybe the tertiary education system really is
    irreparable.
    I've been musing somewhat about what Tauno said (in an earlier thread)
    about going into teaching. Not quite sure what the pros and cons are.
    One pro is that I love my field. I love expository writing in general,
    and public speaking too.

    It's not something I can think about for probably at least another ten
    years. But it's not unheard-of for people to enter the teaching
    profession at >40.

    The question beneath this, however, is one of metalevels - If I become
    a teacher in a field, does that field cease to be my field? Surely,
    TEACHING that field is now my field.

    Ceci n'est pas un ingénieur.
     
    larwe, Mar 5, 2006
    #20
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