Last Friday night I came back from a trip to the US to present our RF power solution to various companies along both the west and east coast. It is a very creative patent pending concept which will allow the cutting-edge industrial processes of tomorrow. For this innovative solution, we have collaborated with the Technical University of Eindhoven, like many other products within Prodrive Technologies.
Flexibility plays a key role in my role as system architect. I can start working when I like. I can even work in the middle of the night if I suddenly feel inspired. At Prodrive Technologies we are always facing problems that have never been seen before. Bringing innovative ideas requires a lot of creativity. Flexibility is indispensable for it.
System requirement specification is not my only task. As system architect my daily activities are varied. After the definition of the requirements it is time for describing the overall system, its functional blocks and interfaces. Highly complex solutions for the industry demands the interaction of many kinds of expertise from analog electronics to software and mechanics.
Highly complex solutions for the industry demands the synergy of many kinds of expertise
System architect profile
Pros and cons
Flexible way of working
Responsibilities, not tasks
No two days are the same
Free gym at work
Coffee consumption slowly and steadily rises
The only common thing in all my days is that it starts with a coffee. After that I jump to the tasks which I have set to myself for the day. One of my favorite things in Prodrive is that you can be part of almost all steps of the product development process.
This was also the case for the last project I was working on, the 48V motor drive. The project started with defining the system requirements and then constructing the system architecture. I had to develop mathematical models for the main components of the drive, which can be used to design and simulate its performance. Of course, as a young engineer I needed a lot of help from a lot of my colleagues, but in Prodrive this is never a problem. After doing the calculations for the drive I had to make the schematics and design the enclosure so that it is optimal in every way. This all in very close collaboration with the mechanical engineer. Afterwards I also did the PCB design of both the power board and the control board. I had to constantly keep in mind how this product is going to be produced, so that I can optimize the production time as well.
I remember when the boards were delivered and I hooked them up to the test equipment for first time, it really felt that this product was almost like my child. It is a very rewarding feeling for which it is all worth it. Now I must also fully qualify the drive, thus completing the whole design process.
Art without engineering is dreaming. Engineering without art is calculating.
BSc, BEng, MSc in Electrical engineering or a related technical education
Pros and cons
Opportunity to constantly learn new things. You can choose on which projects to work, so that they match your aspirations for professional development.
Very high level of freedom. You take the responsibility, and nobody micromanages you.
Very easy to combine with university due to the high flexibility.
Culture of openness. When you don’t know something there is always someone willing to help you and provide you with expertise.
It’s awesome to have the RnD and the Production departments next to each other as you really feel close the whole process of creating new technologies.
Coffee is free, but…
When I first started working at Prodrive, 3 years ago, it was because I wanted to apply the theory I learned during my Bachelor on practical applications. However, being freshly from university I chose to work in the Service department to get acquainted with electronics and problem-solving. After a few years, and a lot of theory at university later, I decided to persuade my interests in Electromagnetics as an Antenna Designer. I would say this is one of the best things about Prodrive: while sometimes the type of work influences who you are, at Prodrive you also get to decide what type of work is suitable for you. So, switching to functions which suit your interests and competences is quite easy.
In my project group I daily collaborate with two graduated PhD students from who I learn a lot. So besides working I also learn a lot from my colleagues which makes my current master’s in electrical engineering more interesting. For me this is one of the best things about combining my job and my study: the application of theory on real-life products.
On a typical working day, I start around 6/7 am, after which I might still follow some lectures at university in the afternoon and have a drink in the evening. This often results in a packed, but satisfying and diverse day. Currently, this is much easier to do because I’m working at home.
My responsibility is to design antennas which are custom for the product in which they are to be integrated. This involved discussing requirements and other specifications with colleagues from other departments, but also to check with providers whether a product meets a certain radiation performance. Moreover, at the end of a design cycle the antenna must be recreated in a PCB file to be manufactured and tested. Doing all this in-house results in an amazing amount of experience which can be obtained from all different phases of the project.
Combining my study, work and social activities successfully gives me a lot of satisfaction and motivation
RF Designer profile
BSc, BEng, MSc in Electrical Engineering or a related technical education
Pros and cons
A place where a lot of knowledge is available to learn from
Applying learned theory in practice
Working at a high-tech company in the brainport region
A lot of support for employees who are still studying
Lots of additional benefits like a gym, lunch & dinner
Working too much because I want to get something finished
You don’t just go to work, you feel responsible for your project
You decide when, where and how much you want to work
You like to think about manufacturability when designing
You don’t sit and wait, you have a hands-on mentality