Employee Q&A

Life as a VHDL Engineer

David Lee

"The company has a nice vibe – a good mix of people all wanting to be part of a successful business. Pragmatism and experimentation are equally valued."

What did you study (and where), and what attracted you to work at Calnex?

I studied Electronics & Electrical Engineering at the University of Leeds. I heard about Calnex through a former colleague and the role offered enough of a change from what I was doing at the time. The location also cut my commute significantly, which was very appealing!

How long have you worked at Calnex and how has your career developed?

I’ve been here for 3½ years now as an HDL design engineer, developing new product features and helping to improve our design processes. Our products are continually evolving and because we work in multi-discipline project teams, there’s always plenty to learn about and opportunities to explore outside of my HDL role.

What is it that motivates you in the morning and gets you energized about your role?

Morning motivation is supplied by an over-excited cat demanding his breakfast! Once in the office however, I guess it’s that engineer’s mentality that you want to get a thing working correctly. It’s a good feeling when you do!

Talk us through a typical day for you at Calnex?

Depending which project I’m on and what stage it’s at, I could typically be doing HDL design and simulation at my desk, or validating and debugging features on hardware in the lab. Most projects use a quick, daily ‘standup’ meeting to keep everyone in touch when it’s useful to do so. There’s always time to step back and take a break for a coffee and a chinwag too.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

The company has a nice vibe – a good mix of people all wanting to be part of a successful business. Pragmatism and experimentation are equally valued. There’s respect and trust; space to just get on with a task but support is available if you need it. It’s a friendly office too, always open to new ideas, with plenty of social activities.

Most challenging aspects of your job?

Sometimes our main tool vendor’s documentation could be clearer…

What skills do you need to succeed in the job?

Aside from some HDL language and tool experience, just the usual: good communication, teamwork and self-sufficiency, open-mindedness and perseverance.

What has been your biggest success at Calnex?

I’ve played a part in several key features of our acclaimed Paragon Neo product. The complexity of what we do means everything is a team effort.

What piece of advice would you give to anyone who wants to work in VHDL Engineering?

Understand the relationship between the HDL code you write and the logic gates that will be produced – you’re not writing software! Also, how a target device typically fits into the wider environment of physical hardware, software and application layers.

What do you do for downtime?

Music, film, mucking around with bits of wood and occasional forays into the hills.

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