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The Next Generation of MRI RF Amplifiers

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Over five years ago, we started the development of the Next Generation amplifiers for MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging). More recently we introduced state-of-the-art RF (NGRF) Amplifiers to the NG-series portfolio with the aim of dominating the market in this discipline. It is the goal to develop amplifiers with the highest quality and best performance by using the latest technology available. Nowadays, the NGRF portfolio consist of two models, one for a 1.5 Tesla MRI system, and one for 3.0 Tesla.


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Bart

| System architect
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Max

|
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Kristiaan


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Bart

| System architect

After setting up the laptop holder and turning on the laptop, I feed my cat Jack, prepare a sandwich and a cup of coffee, finish breakfast together with my girlfriend and start working, at home.

Starting my day at home brings a lot of benefits for me. First, it ensures that I can avoid the traffic jams and thereby saving me about 40 minutes each day. Furthermore, it enables me to finish activities in full-concentration mode.

As architect of the NGRF amplifiers, my working days are very diverse. This RF amplifier, for MRI purpose, is a very complex product. It demands a lot of different competences such as power electronics, embedded software, mechanics and RF design. Working intensively with a team of about 12 engineers, which all pursue the same goal; making the best RF amplifier in the world (in every sense) is really a privilege.

These small teams, so-called moonshot-teams, consisting of very talented engineers, is a typical Prodrive way-of-working, and are often deployed to develop innovative products using new disruptive technologies.

It is my job to have technical discussions with the customers, to decide on the concept and main technologies and to review the internal designs and measurement results. To illustrate a typical day, I review design documentation in the morning, drive to Prodrive Technologies, have a discussion with a supplier on a key-component, enjoy a nice lunch, and I end the day by talking with a customer on the other side of the world via a conference call.

Combining ambitious people with the latest technology results in awesome products

System architect profile

  • BSc, BEng, MSc or PhD in engineering

  • Social and communication skills to work with colleagues and being customer-oriented

  • Conceptual thinker with a creative mind

  • Heart for technology and engineering background

  • Strong analytical skills

  • Ability to keep the helicopter view

  • Good language and documenting skills

  • Pragmatism to handle conflicting requirements and combine challenging wishes of the customer to a manufacturable and cost-effective product

  • Critical attitude

  • Preferably a multidisciplinary interest and broad knowledge

  • Decisive, ability to make high level design choices

  • Strong communication skills

Pros and cons

  • Working with a very creative, talented and ambitious team

  • Being able to combine multiple competences in order to achieve the best solution

  • Internal organization speed due to vertical integration and lack of bureaucracy

  • Nice working environment (e.g. modern lab, good food, gym, silent office)

  • Working with responsibilities instead of tasks

  • Having a talented beer brewer in the team

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Max

| ;

I started working at Prodrive Technologies straight after getting my bachelor’s degree. If you had told me then that I would still be working here now, I would not have believed you. My initial idea of Prodrive was that at its heart its an electronics company and that although it required some mechanical designs, I would be bored by the simplicity early on. Now, 10 years later, I can unequivocally state that that is not the case.

Typically, a project starts with information gathering and figuring out all the requirements and constraints. The difficulty starts at this step cause not all of these goals will be compatible, and priorities will have to be set. For example:

  • Cost versus quality; not all designs will require the material to be titanium or the dimensions to be exact to the nanometer.
  • Ease of assembly is important but how important is determined by the volume in which it will be made.
  • Etc.

Balancing goals like these while creating a design is what makes it challenging.

Making a design is only the beginning, there will be prototypes that need assembly and after that qualification. But alongside product design there might be fixtures needed for qualifications like shock and vibration, or an assembly tool might speed up production significantly or prevent incorrect assembly. The broad scope and diversity of the tasks that require doing make sure that there never is a boring a day at Prodrive Technologies.

Shortcuts make long delays

Pros and cons

  • Great working environment (People and facilities)

  • Diversity of tasks

  • Influence into what type of project you want to do

  • Lots of responsibility and trust

  • Equality & Flat hierarchy (Even the CEO’s are approachable)

  • Flexible hours

  • Everything must be properly documented

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Kristiaan

Prodrive has many challenging and complex products, such as The Next Generation of MRI RF Amplifiers and Prodrive Motion Platform (PMP). When these projects grow, it becomes increasingly more difficult to provide a good and easy method of controlling all functionalities within those projects. This is where I come in to play. Using C++ and QT , me and my coworkers develop a toolsuite to give users and developers a great method overseeing and controlling the embedded side of those projects. This can be through HMI views, scope views, signal lists or any method that you think will fit the best for the situation.

After getting a Coffee I join the meeting with my coworkers and stakeholders regarding the redesign of the PMP scope view. Within PMP, signals and actuators can be viewed and controlled using a scopeview within the toolsuite. I think some additional features and changes will improve usability significantly. After discussing about the possibilities and getting insights from the stakeholders for about an hour the meeting is finished, and I get to work on the design.

After some time I will release a beta version for engineers and stakeholders to test, which always provides some constructive feedback and some obscene edge case I did not think of taking into account. Some colleagues make finding bugs during betatesting into a Olympic sport, but I am always determined to beat them next time.

After about a month, the new design is finished and released and I start working on the next feature or improvement.

It is not about what is. It is about what you think can be.

Pros and cons

Responsibility

You don’t just go to work, you feel responsible for your project

Flexible

You decide when, where and how much you want to work

Manufacturing

You like to think about manufacturability when designing

Initiative

You don’t sit and wait, you have a hands-on mentality

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Employees, of which 1800 fulltime

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Annual growth over the last 20 years

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Average age of our employees

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The year Prodrive Technologies was founded

What we offer

  • Perfect environment for people willing to take full responsibility in a project
  • Unlimited growth opportunities and freedom in taking different roles in different projects
  • Young and dynamic culture
  • Unlimited personal budget for training courses, classes or studies
  • We are open 24/7 and provide lunch, dinner and a company gym
  • We keep management positions to a minimum, so there is virtually no hierarchy
  • Create your future with your own personal development plan
  • Tools and equipment such as an iPhone, iPad and laptop
  • The flexibility to work wherever and how much you want
  • Salary that grows with your performance
  • Opportunity to become a shareholder and entrepreneur in the company
  • Travel allowance based on the days you are actually at Prodrive
  • 31 Holidays
  • Money for retirement
  • Distribution of profits

Application steps

  1. We’ll take a look at your application as soon as possible.
  2. You will receive a link to Prodrive Technologies’ online aptitude test to see if you’re up for the challenge.
  3. We will set you up for a personal interview to ask you difficult questions about yourself. Afterwards, others will ask you some more difficult questions about your expertise. We will immediately decide if we will make you an offer after the interviews.
  4. When there’s enough time left, we will discuss employment conditions directly after the interviews.
  5. If you survived everything, only your signature stands between you and being a Prodriver.