Behind the Spec: Principal Hardware Engineer Siva Selvaraj
Q: What is your role at Atonarp?
I lead the designing, prototyping, and testing of electronics for Atonarp’s advanced optical spectrometer system. My role involves understanding system requirements, identifying components, performing theoretical calculations and simulations, drawing schematics, ordering components, building electronics boards, writing test software, debugging, and more. I also am mentoring a junior engineer on the team.
Q: What is your training and professional background?
I began my career at the Raman Research Institute in Bangalore, where they trusted and gave me the opportunity to build a 4-8GHz radio telescope receiver after a year of training there. I was fresh out of college and got to experiment and strengthen what I had studied and learn even more in areas like RF, analog, and digital design. Over time I had the opportunity to work on a wide range of applications including software defined radio, digital RF memory, EEG, intelligent architecture creator, a streaming music player, and sensors to measure the liquid level in a bottle. This variety and empowerment greatly enhanced my engineering abilities.
Q: What kind of challenges do you face in your position, and how do you overcome them?
Component shortages are one of our biggest challenges right now, due to the pandemic, but we’re able to overcome these with quick decision-making and forward planning.
As a hardware engineer, one gets very used to dealing with challenges. Since the possibility of electronics failure is high, when a system does not work, the first element to be doubted is electronics. It often feels like the emotions of a parent protecting their child. :) This is when extra attention during the design phase pays off, giving me the confidence and the ability to debug and prove electronics (most of the time) performed as expected.
Q: What gets you excited about your work with Atonarp?
Both the quality of the work and quality of the team are tremendously motivating for me. When my work helps the team to achieve our broader goals, it is very rewarding. Certainly the possibilities of the products we work on and the positive impact it can have for patients is also a big motivation.
Q: What qualities do you find most crucial for yourself and other team members?
The ability to investigate and fully understand product requirements and technical challenges is critical, ensuring we are identifying root causes and not simply solving issues in a reactive manner. Then, it is our job as the engineering team to develop elegant, reliable, and achievable solutions to help deliver high quality products.
Working in a cooperative environment is important when you are solving complex technical problems and we are lucky to have a self-motivated team that is willing to work collaboratively.
Both the quality of the work and quality of the team are tremendously motivating for me. When my work helps the team to achieve our broader goals, it is very rewarding.
Q: What engineering challenge are you currently focused on that is most rewarding?
A very challenging project was debugging a spectrometer board that was designed by a previous team member, which is always a challenging task. It was quite a lot of effort, but we were able to troubleshoot and get the spectrometer to operate successfully, which was rewarding. Recently we have started performing FMEA analysis and identifying design improvements, which is quite interesting.
Q: What do you like to do in your free time?
I am passionate about the environment and minimizing my carbon footprint, so one thing I enjoy is utilizing our kitchen and yard waste for composting and gardening. My husband and I built a raised garden and compost pit with reclaimed wood from our fence and green beans have grown in it happily this year. :)