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Smart Tech Revolution
Join the smart tech revolution in consumer electronics, where the career possibilities are endless.
Consumer electronics is a growing industry, and showing no signs of slowing down, thanks to all sorts of emerging tech and the constant thirst for all technology that’s smart.
Indeed, smart tech is in everything from cars and homes to phones, tablets and laptops. In fact, nowadays, you’d be hard-pressed to find something in the consumer electronics market that doesn’t have some sort of smart or emerging tech component. It’s been quite an evolution - revolution even - decades in the making, and it’s just the beginning.
Just three years ago the demand for consumer electronics boosted revenue to a record $211.3 billion, according to the Consumer Technology Association (CTA). And CNET more recently reported that last year’s Consumer Electronics Show drew more than 170,000 people to Las Vegas, NV, up from 113,085 people who attended in 2010.
The consumer electronics demand is clearly there, and so are the engineering career opportunities. Meet five engineers who work in different parts of the consumer electronics industry and are thriving.
Movement within Motorola Provides a Satisfying Career for Whitelock
An internship with Hughes Aircraft Radar Systems while she was an undergraduate at the University of Illinois gave Lisa Whitelock “a leg up” when she interviewed and was hired into Motorola Networks upon graduation with a bachelor’s degree in electrical and computer engineering.
But it was her interest in the consumer electronics industry that prompted her to submit her resume to Motorola via her university’s recruitment/job placement office. She was hired as a radio frequency (RF) systems engineer and worked on sub-system RF design and testing.
“I moved to digital design with some low-level coding, then into project management of application-specific integrated circuits (ASIC) and leading board designs,” says Whitelock, explaining how she progressed from that initial role.
She went on to earn an MBA from Northwestern University, with a focus on strategy, marketing, international business and technology, after which she took on a business development role selling cellular network systems to global carriers.
“This gave me the opportunity to travel around the world and learn how to make presentations to executives,” she notes.
Today she’s head of software innovations and experiences product management at Motorola Mobility. In her current position, she leads a team of product managers who direct and develop software experiences across the entire Motorola device portfolio.
According to Whitelock, Chicago, IL-based Motorola has provided her with opportunities for career improvement, including an effective speaking and presentation course, taught by professional actors, through which she learned “how to best have confidence in front of large audiences, proper posture/poise and the ability to create compelling stories.” All are skills she’s happily had experience using during her travels for the company.
To join Whitelock and the Motorola team, make your way to motorolacareers.com for job opportunities. Connect on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Instagram and Google+.
Lin Works On AI at Vivint
Lanny Lin came to Vivint Smart Home in 2014 as a principal data science engineer to work on Vivint’s artificially intelligent smart home platform, which learns customers’ behaviors and preferences in order to manage their homes for them.
He’d had prior experience in the tech industry, including network administration, data analytics, programming, multimedia and client server architecture, and an internship at NASA in its intelligent robotics group while he was working on a Ph.D at Brigham Young University. He also earned Bachelor of Arts in business administration and a Bachelor of Science in computer science from Southern Oregon University.
All of this, Lin says, “prepared me for the work I do at Vivint Smart Home as they gave me a deep background working with large data sets, predictive modeling, algorithm design, machine learning and human factor design.”
The engineer says he was drawn to Provo, UT-based Vivint, whose leadership in the smart home market gave him the opportunity to “apply my passion for and experience with artificial intelligence and machine learning in a way that would have practical application for customers.”
As a principal data science engineer on Vivint’s consumer intelligence analytics team, Lin is responsible for designing and building the intelligence part of the company’s smart home services.
“I get to use machine learning models, algorithms and techniques such as anomaly detection, dimension reduction and hierarchical clustering to create a truly intelligent smart home experience for our customers,” he explains.
He’s also able to travel to key industry conferences in order to keep abreast of the latest ideas and advancements in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning.
Lin points out there are always “heavy technical components involved in artificial intelligence” even if he were to transfer into a management track. He adds that, in his present position, he already has many management responsibilities such as defining and breaking down development tasks and assigning them to team members, or holding discussions with sub-teams to come to agreement on design decisions.
Creating what Lin calls “a smart home assistant” is a complex undertaking. It has many moving pieces, and needs to be adaptable to the lives of individual customers whose homes, family types, lifestyles, habits and preferences are vastly different. Lin indicates that solving the challenging problems in artificial intelligence can benefit people’s lives.
“We make sure everything works as intended by creating prototypes and running many small-scale tests,” Lin explains. This, he further notes, ensures that Vivint’s new products work well with the existing technology it provides for its customers.
To join Lin and the Vivant team, venture to vivint.com/company/careers for job paths. Connect on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest and Google+.
Innovation, Tech & the Work Culture at Carrier Appeal to Ahmed
Before coming on board at Carrier Corporation, a heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) company, Sunny Ahmed spent five years as an engineer with two different companies.
At one of those companies, he says, there was no test engineer who could test software, so Ahmed learned to do that, and it’s one of the skills that he uses during the development phase of projects at Carrier.
An electrical engineering graduate of St. Cloud (MN) State University who also has a master’s degree in systems engineering and is currently completing an MBA, Ahmed was impressed with the high level of technology and innovation in the HVAC industry.
“I’ve always had a lot of interest in the connected home concept and thought there would be a variety of products I could interface with in this industry,” he says. He also thought the HVAC industry would provide the opportunity for long-term career growth, which was also an important factor for him.
Ahmed was drawn to Carrier specifically because of its innovation and great work culture.
“During the interview process,” he explains, “I had a chance to interact with a lot of different people, and it was clear to me that the work culture was fantastic. That was a big reason behind my decision to move to Carrier.”
The fact that Carrier is part of UTC Climate, Controls & Security, a unit of Farmington, CT-based United Technologies Corporation (UTC), was an added bonus.
He was hired as a systems engineer in Carrier’s cooling group. His focus was to help develop air conditioners and heat pumps using inverter-driven technology, something that was new to the HVAC industry at the time.
“My responsibilities included design and development of inverter-driven products,” he elaborates. “I was involved with agency validation work such as FCC and UL. I also conducted a nationwide field trial program in which data was collected and analyzed in order to improve our systems.”
Today Ahmed is a senior controls system engineer and works with different aspects of an HVAC system. “One of my key responsibilities is working with teams to develop state-of-the-art technology that controls the entire HVAC system.”
His current position allows him to work with many different aspects of the HVAC system. But Ahmed’s currently focused on thermostats: how customers use thermostats to interface with their system, how the parts of the system interact with each other and how that can be optimized for Carrier’s customers.
“In the past,” he notes, “my focus was on air conditioners and heat pumps, but now I work with additional equipment such as furnaces and thermostats.”
Throughout his career at Carrier, Ahmed’s had mentors who helped him acquire HVAC knowledge. Training has also been made available to him. In particular, he says, UTC’s Achieving Competitive Excellence (ACE) training process “really helped me learn the way we do things here at Carrier.”
He’s also able to pursue his MBA thanks to Carrier’s support through UTC’s Employee Scholar Program.
“I feel strongly that there’s a lot of innovation still ahead of us in the HVAC industry,” Ahmed asserts. “Technology is developing at a very quick pace. It’s the fuel behind all of the change and excitement in this industry, such as in ‘connected homes.’”
To join Ahmed and the Carrier team, check out carrier.com/carrier/en/us/careers for job possibilities. To join the UTC team, go to www.ccs.utc.com/ccs/en/worldwide/careers and utc.com/Careers/Work-With-Us/Pages/default.aspx for job postings. Connect on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.
Johnson Makes the Human-Computer Connection at Harman
When asked why a consumer electronics career interested him, Jason B. Johnson, he explains that his “passion has always been to positively impact society with technical innovations.”
He adds: “The automobile has been, and will continue to be, the most complex computing system available for mass consumer consumption. I enjoy the challenge of making a product that is simple and satisfying for drivers.”
That passion led Johnson - a University of Michigan electrical engineering graduate who’s also completed some class work for a master’s degree from DePaul University in human computer interaction - to an 11-year career in the automotive industry, working at both GM and Ford.
At GM he was the technical program manager for GM’s OnStar mobile applications. At Ford he began as a user interface engineer and, ultimately, became an engineering supervisor directing the development of user interface products for the company’s Ford and Lincoln vehicles.
Harman International, a global company headquartered in Stamford, CT that connects consumers with audio and video technology in both their vehicles and in their homes, was a supplier and development partner for in-vehicle infotainment systems used by both GM and Ford.
So before he came on board at Harman, Johnson was familiar with the company, which he describes as “on the leading edge of in-vehicle technology innovation.”
During the recruitment process, he met first with Harman’s senior vice president and general manager for North America. “Through my networking activity, I identified how I could fill a gap in the organization by contributing to user experience design activity for the connected car division.”
Four face-to-face interviews with three technical leads and the head of human resources followed, focusing on Johnson’s technical and leadership competencies.
In Spring 2015 Johnson joined Harman International as director of user experience in its connected car organization, a post he still holds.
“I lead a team of interaction and visual designers that create in-vehicle digital experiences, optimized for efficiency and simplicity,” he outlines, adding, “A big part of my job is collaborating with engineers and designers from our automotive clients. We focus on the interaction between people and in-vehicle technology to ensure the systems are user-friendly.”
Johnson points out that, upon his arrival at Harman, he sought experienced leaders who could provide specific guidance and mentorship.
In addition, Harman University, a comprehensive online and location-based learning resource designed to develop leadership, business, functional and technical skills, has also been a supportive resource for him.
With regard to his future, he indicates there are opportunities for movement within Harman’s four divisions - connected car, lifestyle audio, professional solutions and connected services.
To join Johnson and the Harman team, hurry to jobs.harman.com for careers. Connect on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and Instagram.
Lenovo’s Innovation & Engineering Talent Drew Hernandez
After an 18-year career at IBM, where he held numerous engineering and management positions, Luis Hernandez, came to Lenovo, a global company that designs, develops, manufactures and sells consumer electronics, including PCs, notebooks, smartphones, servers and smart TVs.
In 2005, when IBM sold its PC division to Lenovo, Hernandez was hired as executive director of procurement engineering. He’s currently vice president of Lenovo’s PC and smart devices development team, responsible for the creation of PC products.
“I’m responsible for the development of consumer notebooks (IdeaPad and Yoga), commercial notebooks (ThinkPad), and the subsystems for PC products, which include LCD, power adapters supply, memory and storage,” describes Hernandez, a 1987 electrical engineering graduate from Notre Dame who holds an MBA from Duke University.
Prior to his current position, he was also vice president/general manager of Lenovo’s ThinkPad business unit and executive director of procurement engineering in the global supply chain.
“In these roles I was instrumental in bringing change into the organization,” he notes.
As an example, Hernandez points to how he “led the integration of ThinkPad and NEC [Corporation’s] PC development teams in Japan, and established a new business unit focused on small business while on international assignment in Beijing.”
Morrisville, NC-based Lenovo has laboratories in the U.S., Japan and China, and employs more than 850 engineers to work in them. Having teams in major regions allows Lenovo’s engineers to be close to customers, and that helps the engineers understand and solve key customer problems and the requirements for new, innovative products, according to Hernandez.
Just as it was for him with his own first contact with IBM and the candidates he now interviews, Hernandez feels the resume is the first glimpse a company gets of you. Considering that, his advice to newly graduated job seekers is to “use this opportunity to showcase your key skills, what job you want to do - don’t be general - and how your experience can help the company be successful.”
He further recommends that once you get your first interview, show your interviewer that you’re familiar with the company’s products and the customers it serves. “Don’t be afraid to ask questions and showcase your skills with key examples of your work, studies or life experience,” says the engineering executive, who’s received four U.S. patents and written several technical reports related to PC technology.
Because increasing efficiency, multitasking and work-life balance are challenging expectations, Hernandez says he realizes that some things are out of his control. So, instead, he focuses on those things he can control and chooses the top three tasks he must complete.
“That helps me finish my tasks every day,” says Hernandez, who retired from the U.S. Army Reserve as a Lieutenant Colonel, having served in both the Iraq and Afghanistan campaigns, for which he was awarded the Bronze Star.
Teamwork is also essential, and he’s learned to use his teams and experts to accomplish those tasks. “I try to communicate in a simple way so others clearly understand my direction and what’s expected of them,” he concludes.
To join Hernandez and the Lenovo team, log onto lenovocareers.com for career possibilities. Connect on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest, Flickr and Google+.
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