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Some Crucial Lessons For Testers From my Engineering Blogs

Shachi Nandan Kakkar
Shachi Nandan Kakkar
VP of Creativity & Innovation – SKAK INC
Shachi Nandan Kakkar is a national level VLSI industry blogger who writes a blog regularly on EDN... more>>
Our exposure to both, electronics and sports, starts at a very early age. Interesting toys, emitting colorful lights and strange sounds, are hung over our cribs when we are barely a few days old. Soon, we learn that they work on batteries. When we first insert these batteries, we test the toy for proper operation.  Once, this test operation is successful, we feel thrilled.  At about the same time, we get into sports in some form or the other, even if it is just playing with a ball.  Later in school, we learn about electric circuits and also participate in extra curricular activities involving various competitive sports like cricket and swimming. From here on, if we decide to excel as a test engineer, we must go to a reputable engineering college to build a strong foundation to our engineering career.  Without a solid footing during our undergraduate studies, we can’t hope to progress to the gold medal of engineering - a good graduate school.

Once solid education is in place, whether it came from everyday life happenings or school/college, one can learn how to succeed in the practical cut throat world of competing chip companies keen on establishing an indomitable "silicon image", by drawing valuable parallels from the enticing world of sports.

Relevance of the Olympics world to world class engineering companies that  test right:

The idea is simple, give it your all and try your best at something you want to excel in. Both require a burning passion to succeed.  Both demand endless hours of effort.  The design has to work in the first silicon and hence must be tested under all possible scenarios.  If you start late, double up your effort to make up for the lost time. With hard work and ingenuity, you can be the best at whichever of the 2 paths you choose. Both can also be equally exciting if modern testing technology entices you and you have a strong desire to use it fruitfully to enrich other’s lives.  Michael Phelps started swimming from the age of 11, a little too late for an aspiring Olympian, but was eager to double up his efforts to make up for his late start.  The result is out there in the open for everyone to see.

Relevance of the basketball court to innovative product testing:

In basketball, we start with learning the very basics of the game like handling the ball, dribbling, shooting, passing and being a good team player.  As a test engineer, we start off testing simple circuits and learning the basic tools of the trade. However, in basketball, we soon move to more advanced moves, lay-ups, fade away, cross overs, etc. This requires more tutelage, and the better the coach, the better we get at these skills. Test engineers also soon begin to dream of testing architecturally advanced heat efficient designs that pack the punch for less and less price but double the performance every 18 months.  There are fade away and cross overs in electronic circuits too and the emphasis is always on ingenuity and numbness in thinking while testing.  In basketball, the focus is on being a NBA player. Test engineers write trailblazer hardware and software code to test designs and have the Steve Wozniaks and Bill Gates of the electronic industry in mind. In the end all the excitement and success in either area comes down to 3 attributes - hard work, focus, and passion.

Relevance of the Dance Floor to Creative Test Engineering:

When you put in that dance performance and hear that cheering in the crowd, your hard work gets an immediate payback, and life seems to have a bigger purpose. The few moments of fame far surpass the endless midnight hours and numerous cups of coffee gulped down during dance practice sessions.  In the test engineering world, a similar story is taking shape. There is an unsaid hurry in the air to tape out the most ingenuous product in the quickest amount of time, but only after 100% testing.  Then, comes the road show, where the applause in the audience drowns out all the late nighters at work.

You  work on the project for months, sometimes even years on end. You spend long hours everyday, programming, working on testing prototypes, putting aside all your differences to collaborate on a project. Time feels like a satanic cage. However, once you see a chip tested by you inside an awesome product, your body swells with a feeling of pride, and all of a sudden, the hours of work, countless hours of sleep lost and dampening of your social life, all seem meaningless.
No matter what you do to succeed or how you plan to excel as a test  engineer, remember, "its all worth it" in the end and if it has not been worth it till now, it is not the end. Hang in there, until then.
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