Bachelor of Science
Electronics & Computer Engineering Technology
Cal Poly Pomona, 2007
I'm a Test Engineer currently working on a subsystem of JWST (James Webb Space Telescope). I'm in a growing group who uses the UMATS (Unit and Module Acceptance Test Sets). Some of my responsibilities are as follows:
- Design the HW for interfacing the UMATS resources with the JWST mixed-signal modules and unit (group of modules) for verification and manufacturing tests.
- Implement this design to verify JWST modules and units.
- Identify root cause of errors and troubleshoot my hardware/software as well as the unit under test.
- Create schematics, drawings, and generate requirements documents, test plans, check-out procedures, test procedures, etc.
The Engineering Technology programs of Cal Poly Pomona are a great source for learning the theory and practical application of a discipline. Having a background in both theory and application distinguishes me from electrical engineers and technicians that I work with. I know enough to design complex circuits and implement such a design, I am able to speak to both engineers and technicians in language they understand, and I believe this foundation makes me a well-rounded engineer that my company can count on.
Being able to come up with a concept, and then prove it in the lab will set a person apart from one who will only be able to do one of those things. I work with quite a few electrical engineers who are very bright, have quick, astute solutions, who often ask me for help in helping to use the lab equipment. Each piece of equipment has some sort of learning curve and they simply don't have the time to teach themselves. They could also ask a technician to help them; but a technician is not always aware of what devices are sensitive that need special precautions, may not know what the end result should be, and will not offer alternative solutions and/or an intelligent analysis of the results. My education has equipped me to do all of these things.
My position requires that I work with both electrical engineers (who design the units I test) and technicians (who assemble my hardware or follow my test procedures). The simple fact that I've experienced what they are doing, at least in some small way, helps me better communicate with them. Engineers like to use technical terms, speak specifically about devices, signals, or data flow. I've learned these concepts and design approaches in school and I can offer my take on how to improve their designs. Technicians want clear, succinct instructions to do their jobs correctly and efficiently. Because I've worked with the equipment and remember what instructions were tough to follow, I can better write a procedure and explain difficult instructions.
When I'm not sure how a circuit functions or how to use a piece of equipment, I know I've designed something similar, even if on a much smaller scale, or have used a similar piece of equipment. This simple fact may not make me learn how to do anything quicker. But one thing is for sure: I will champion the circuit issue before the technician, and I will master the equipment issue before the electrical engineer. In this slowing economy, your skill set is your worth. The more you know, the more valuable you are to any company. And thanks in part to having a wider skill set than many other of my colleagues, I have escaped lay-offs in this last wave.
Topics/Concepts/Equipment I Learned in School that I'm Grateful for:
- Circuit Analysis
- Power Consumption
- State Machines
- Feedback Systems
- Impedance Matching
- MS Project
- Power-Point Presentations
- Reading a Data Sheet
- Function Generators
- Power Supplies
- Network Analyzers
- Logic Analyzers
- (...to name a few)