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Switching from R&D Engineer to Validation Engineer Concerns

  1. Dec 12, 2015 #1
    Hello. I need some advice and I don't know where to turn to. I'm currently an Applied R&D Engineer and my job is almost split between electrical hardware design engineering and embedded software engineering. About 6 months ago, after a lot of thought, I decided to switch jobs. I been working at my current company for 3.5 years. Initially I was looking into either embedded software or hardware engineer jobs. Then after a lot of thought I came to the conclusion I really like hardware design and a little bit of embedded software. I like designing circuits, simulating them, testing hardware, debugging and trying to find solutions. etc... I enjoy embedded software but not as the primary focus of my job. So I narrowed my search for hardware engineering jobs.

    I was contacted about a Hardware Assurance (Validation) Engineer position where it will include some hardware engineering. I decided to go interview for the position and the interview went well. I like the job description and the tasks I will be performing. Being in R&D I don't have much experience working directly with customers or production intent products. I received an offer and decided to accept it.

    After talking with another recruiter I'm beginning to be a little nervous. This recruiter had some bias in giving me advice so I took their advice with a grain of salt. Basically I'm worried that if I want to switch to a hardware design engineering position in the future, I might not be able to because of the validation experience. Is this really a concern? I only have 3.5 years of professional experience and 22 months of Electrical Engineering internship experience, so I'm still new at my career. I think I will most likely switch to a hardware engineer job in the future even though I'm going to accept this validation job. This new position should enhance my experience in my opinion.

    Also, I don't know if it would be a good idea for me to look for hardware engineering in the future at the company I'm going to. Anyone have experience switching jobs at your current company?

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 15, 2015 #2
    I was hoping others might respond, but I guess I will.

    The question I see you asking is whether to go toward hardware design or software design. These are two sides of the same coin. A good hardware engineer can not be oblivious to the demands of writing software, nor can a software engineer be oblivious to the nature of the hardware. If you prefer hardware for now, pursue the hardware. People from planet Human Resources are eager to classify and categorize employees in to nice neat little cubicles that fit their bureaucracies. But that's not the reality and you shouldn't let them define your work.

    First and foremost, you are an Engineer. You design things. Whether those things are hardware, software, processes, standards, or practices, you are an Engineer.

    Second, if you're going to design anything, you should first get a feel for the mistakes people make. Validation testing is a great place to start. It is an excellent entry point. Don't worry about what those career experts say. What matters is whether you feel like your work is interesting and meaningful. You must be your best salesman. If you let some toady who drives a desk define who you are, you deserve every bit of sorrow that will follow.

    Third, have a plan for where you'd like to be in a few years. You can always change the plan or even throw it away in favor of an entirely new plan. However, having a plan gives you a goal. Once again, do not let recruiters, HR, or even your boss define you. (Side note: don't be a jackass about your goals in life, but recognize where your needs coincide with those of your employer and where they diverge).

    Does this answer your question?
     
  4. Dec 17, 2015 #3
    Thank you for the reply JakeBrodskyPE. I'm feeling a lot less nervous now about my decision. I think validation engineering will give me some good experience that I can definitely utilize in the future. I was more worried about switching from validation engineering to something I enjoyed more, which is hardware and embedded software engineering. You are absolutely correct that a good hardware engineer also needs to know about embedded software and vise-versa.
     
  5. Dec 17, 2015 #4
    "A good hardware engineer can not be oblivious to the demands of writing software, nor can a software engineer be oblivious to the nature of the hardware.

    "Being in R&D I don't have much experience working directly with customers or production.....

    Any employer would be lucky to find someone with all those skills. Not only do they give the individual improved perspective in doing specific work, they provide a great platform for advancement. Finding people who understand the relationships between different functions, that is, able to see and understand the big picture, are the kind of people selected for career advancement and development. Understanding how the details of your work impact downstream functions is a valuable commodity.

    As a simple example, I came across a 650 HP diesel engine, one of a pair, in a 50ft recreational cruiser, that had stopped running while the owner was running the boat. Turns out the electronic controls were housed in a 'watertight' enclosure, mounted down low on the engine, likely to reduce the height of the engine.

    Bad choice: A loose clamp on the adjacent engine allowed cooling water to spray across on the enclosure....turns out it was not watertight. Just as bad, in an emergency boat leak with high bilge water, the electronic controls would quickly be underwater..... disabling any ability to operate the boat. Such an arrangement might be fine in a truck or bus, but spells disaster in a marine environment. Somebody missed the big picture.
     
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