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Past Graduate Profiles

The following profiles highlight the careers and opportunities of a few of our past graduates.

 

  • Steve Winnall

    Steve Winnall

    Director Product Engineering, Finisar Pty Ltd.

    Award Completed

    Bachelor of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, University of Adelaide

    Current Employer/ Role

    Finisar Pty. Ltd.

    Finisar are the global leaders in components for optical telecommunications. The Sydney team designs, develops and manufactures optical switches and monitors for export all over the world. In my role as Director of Product Engineering I manage a team of 30 engineers to deliver the embedded software, VHDL, circuit board designs and test as part of the overall product solution.

    Previously

    Cochlear Pty Ltd

    As electrical team leader in Cochlear, I was responsible for the electrical design and test of the speech processor, power delivery and programming functions as well as production test development. Later, as senior project manager I was responsible for delivering Cochlear's next generation speech processor from concept to market.

    AP Pty Ltd

    Management consultancy and contract project management. The commercial arm of the Australian Photonics Cooperative Research Centre.

    RBN Inc (now part of Sorrento Networks)

    Senior Electrical engineer. Design of high-speed, high-density backplanes and daughterboards for an award-winning telecommunications product.

    DSTO

    Developing Electronic Warfare capabilities for the Australian Defence Force. Specifically in the area of millimetre-wave Electronic Support Measure - microwave engineering.

    Career highlight

    It was such a buzz to see a recipient who was previously deaf hear with the new Nucleus 5 speech processor at Cochlear. We had all worked really hard as a team to develop this product, and as an added bonus the product had better reliability and hearing performance than we had expected.

    Overseas work

    I've been fortunate enough to travel overseas for work - selecting suppliers, developing new components in Switzerland, mainland China, downstate New York, and Barcelona. Especially in the start of your career put your hand up for this opportunity, I encourage the engineers a few years out of uni to do this in my team.

    Challenges

    To develop any new product, you have to overcome many thousands of challenges, usually one or two each day. Some of the memorable ones were an EMC failure a month before launch, manufacturing issues during ramp up, and suppliers sending crappy parts.

    Here are some ideas:

    • Take a long term view, the problem may look impossible but can always be solved
    • Communication within the team is so, so, so important
    • Remember that this is part of product development and if it were easy it would be done
    • Learn and gain experience from the challenges and formal techniques to solve problems

    Advice to those considering undertaking a career in your field?

    As engineers, we are always keen to find a really neat, elegant and fast solution. Take the time to explore the problem space first: what does the customer want? Is there a better way? Will my solution be ‘good enough'?

    Has what you learnt at University helped you?

    University is a great way to formally learn structured ways of solving problems, and get your foot in the door with an employer by nature of your degree. I was fortunate to go through with a great bunch of people, even today we say hi and bounce ideas off each other.

    How has your degree/degrees assisted with achieving your personal and career objectives?

    My passion is developing new products. The BEng at Adelaide is a solid groundwork in engineering, across several disciplines which is more useful than specialising too early. I wondered when I would need heat transfer, differential equations, moment balances while at uni, but have used these during my work. After BEng I found it was important to keep learning in a formal context to stay passionate, and obtain complimentary knowledge to my work experience. It's good for engineers to branch out after a few years and uni is a good way to achieve this. For me it was the PhD, business and project management. Other people have benefited from marketing skills, software development, project management, even finance.

  • Gosia Davis

    Gosia Davis

    Project Engineering Manager, BAE Systems Australia

    Award Completed

    Bachelor of Electrical and Electronic Engineering with 1st Class Honours, 1994

    Current Employer/ Role

    BAE Systems Australia, Project Engineering Manager (PEM)

    I am the PEM on the Wheatstone Upstream Telecoms Integration project which comprises the delivery of 8 telecommunication systems for a Chevron LNG platform. Responsibilities include definition of the engineering process and test program; management of the engineering team with respect of design, product safety, documentation development and delivery to the customer, production, integration and test; customer liaison; subcontractor management.

    My previous project with BAE Systems Australia comprised the design, build and installation of a CCTV Management System for the Parliament House in Canberra.

    Previously

    • May 2000 - Oct 2002, Hitachi Micro Systems Europe (UK), DSP Engineer
    • Development of digital signal processing software for mobile phones
    • Nov 1999 - May 2000, Lucent Technologies (UK),
    • Development of digital signal processing software for PABXs
    • Oct 1998 - Nov 1999, Newbridge Networks (UK), Software Engineer
    • Development of software for network equipment
    • Jan 1995 - Jul 1998, Vision Systems (Adelaide), Electronic Engineer
    • Hardware electronic design and embedded software development

    Career highlight

    The best part of my work is variety. Sometimes the technology is the same as in a past project, but the application is different. For example I spent close to 6 years writing embedded code and in that time coded for applications as varied as mobile phones, radar systems and network equipment. Nowadays I work on integration projects where we deliver systems for a diverse group of customers in electricity, rail, oil and gas, defence and government industries.

    Oversees work

    I spent 3 years in England specializing in digital signal processing. My time in England not only enabled me to gain valuable working experience but also to travel the world! When I handed in my resignation to my employer in England they asked whether I would accept working remotely for them from Australia. How could I refuse! I set up an office at home in Adelaide complete with test equipment sent over from my employer in England and wrote software for them for over a year. I also had my first child during that time.

    Challenges

    Challenges require tenacity not just to overcome them but to continue to maintain high quality of output despite the difficulties. An example of a technical challenge I have experienced is while working on software for a mobile phone we found that the processor was just not keeping up with the data rate, meaning the phone could not maintain a phone call. We had to go back to the processor manuals to understand the way the silicon of the processor was designed to squeeze every bit of performance out of the hardware. This work was not initially anticipated so not only did the team have to be inventive in how we wrote the code to maximise the performance but we also had to ensure that the work was completed efficiently to maintain the project schedule. As engineers progress their careers to roles of responsibility they come up against programmatic challenges that do not rely as much on technical knowledge but also on innovation, ideas and their ability to communicate effectively. I was once responsible for devising a software patching mechanism that allowed software engineers to apply patches to code that was physically burnt into the silicon. The solution did not only have to be technically feasible, but also had to be able to be implemented in a production environment, taking into account production software cycles and potentially limited understanding that the software engineers had of the underlying mechanism that I was designing.

    Advice to those considering undertaking a career in your field

    Engineering excellence is not only limited to technical prowess but very much requires us to really understand "what the customer wants" and to apply available technology to delivering the solution. At the other extreme are the Research and Development activities with the development of new technologies, which straddle the line between engineering and science. Electronic and computer systems engineering covers such a wide breadth of projects and skills that there really is "something for everyone".

    Has what you learnt at University helped you

    Skills learnt at university provide engineers with a sound foundation on which to build their career through experience. My degree training has also taught me "how to learn" as acquiring new knowledge, technical and otherwise, never stops if you are successful!

    How has your degree/degrees assisted with achieving your personal and career objectives

    My degree has enabled me to achieve my motto of "making a difference" while working in an area that inspires me - solving technical problems. My career objectives have evolved from initially wanting to "get my hands dirty" designing and building electronic hardware through to leading teams in delivering more complex programs. As a professional engineer I have also become a Chartered Engineer with Engineers Australia, which is becoming a necessary qualification for some technical roles.

  • Richard Cole

    Richard Cole

    Senior Software Engineer, Amazon.com

    Awards

    Computer Systems Engineering, University of Adelaide 1995

    Computer Science / Phd 1996/2000

    Current Employer / Role

    Amazon.com / Senior Software Engineer

    Amazon Elastic MapReduce - Big Data computing in the cloud. This product allows companies like Amazon.com and Netflix to analyse user behaviour in order to make better recommendations and improve their purchasing decisions. They also analyse the performance of their systems to provide a better quality of service. It is also used by Amazon to manage the catalogue of many millions of products automatically finding duplicate items and correcting product information.

    Previous Roles / Duties / Projects

    Amazon.com / Software Engineer

    • Amazon Ad Optimization - Worked on Ad optimization to select which products to show in Ads for Amazon on the internet.
    • Worked on natural language processing of texts trying to extract contextual concepts from text.
    • Worked for Boeing on a switching system for a high frequency communication network.

    Relevant information

    Currently live and work in Seattle in the US. Spend most days designing and writing software systems. The work is quite collaborative with lots of design discussions with other people. Have a heavy focus on distributed system, computing using thousands of computers. Computing using thousands of computers brings new challenges over programming single computers. Within a single computer usually the computer only thinks one thing is true at one time. In a cluster of thousands of computer each computer can think a different thing is true. Coordinating the thousands of computers so they can work together on a problem and not get confused by each other, or waste time waiting for each other, is an interesting challenge.

    Advice to those considering undertaking a career in your field

    Be voracious in your appetite for learning. Read, learn, create. Get to the heart of things. Seek out the best texts, the best lectures from across the world. Question everything. Learn by playing and be playful in your learning. Software engineering is a kind of conceptual creativity. It is the building of machines by laying out rules and instructions. It is a craft you grow better at with practice and learning. It continues to be interesting throughout your career.

    If you get the chance to live in another culture take it. Maybe a chance to work overseas, a scholarship, or maybe you save up for a holiday. You'll see that so much of what we believe is culture we inherited from our parents, peers and the town we grew up in. And then of course there is a human core common to all.

    Has what you learnt at University helped you

    Your time at university will likely be the best time of your life. You have freedom to study anything you want and it is the time of your life when you learn the most rapidly. It is very exciting. You get introduced to all the big grown up ideas they keep secret from you in high school. It lays the foundation for your professional career. You cannot be good at computer science unless you study mathematics and computer science. Along the way you study biology and discover the secrets of life, what makes biochemistry tick, in physics you'll learn the secrets of matter in string theory and the quantum world, you'll learn about tensors and general relativity.

    University is also the time when you grow into an adult and really start to enjoy music and literature.

    How has your degree/degrees assisted with achieving your personal and career objectives.

    It prepared me for a life spent building, creating and consuming. University is the best time of your life. The friends you make there will be friends for the rest of your life. As Jim would say: No eternal reward will forgive us now for wasting the dawn. If you don't go to university then you will start your life of drudgery too early and you will have missed your opportunity to see the wonder of life.

  • Peter Celinski

    Peter Celinski

    Director Global Business Development, D&M Holdings

    Award Completed

    Electrical & Electronic Engineering, University of Adelaide 1999, PhD (Microelectronics) 2007

    Current Employer / Role

    D&M Holdings. / Director Global Business Development.

    Lead content partnerships for all brands - Denon, Marantz, Boston Acoustics as well as strategic technology partnerships with silicon makers. Denon acquired my original startup team from Altec Lansing in Jan 2013. Before that, Altec Lansing acquired my startup Avega Systems, which I co-founded in Sydney in 2004.

    Previous Employer / Role

    After finishing my PhD, I co-founded Avega Systems to develop software for music streaming over Wi-Fi for home entertainment. We ended up raising over $10M in venture capital and we were acquired in 2010 and then again in 2013. I have travelled all over the world for work - Japan, Europe, Singapore, Hong Kong and lived in California for 5 years.

    Challenges

    I would have valued more business oriented courses - basic finance, legal and marketing background in addition to the solid engineering training we got at UoA.

    Advice to those considering undertaking a career in your field

    In your final year, do a project that has the potential to be useful commercially if at all possible. Get as much engineering work experience as you can during undergrad. Don't hesitate to start your own company, but if you do, make sure you partner with co-founders who have at least some real world commercialisation experience. Try to maintain broad interest across software and hardware as roles are increasingly demanding expertise in both.

    Has what you learnt at University helped you?

    Absolutely, the EEE degree gave me a very solid technical background which gives me a tremendous advantage in my current business oriented role. I had always wanted to start a company and my engineering background gave me a solid foundation and the confidence to do that.

School of Electrical & Electronic Engineering
THE UNIVERSITY OF ADELAIDE

Level 3 (Room 3.26), Ingkarni Wardli Building
SA 5005 AUSTRALIA

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