Author Topic: Switching from R&D Engineer to Validation Engineer Concerns  (Read 2738 times)

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Offline aiq25

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Switching from R&D Engineer to Validation Engineer Concerns
« on: December 15, 2015, 02:33:59 am »
Hello. I need some career advice and I'm not sure where to turn to. I'm still relatively new in my field.

I'm currently an R&D Engineer. My job is almost split between electrical hardware design and embedded software engineering. About 6 months ago, after a lot of thought, I decided to switch jobs. I been working at my current employer for about 3.5 years. Initially I was looking into either embedded software or hardware engineer jobs. But 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 however I'm beginning to get a little nervous. This recruiter did have some bias in giving me advice. 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.

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 and resume in my opinion. 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.
 

Offline tggzzz

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Re: Switching from R&D Engineer to Validation Engineer Concerns
« Reply #1 on: December 15, 2015, 03:02:41 am »
A few observations, but it is up to you to assess the relevance.

Recruiters are simple beings that are easy to predict: they will say anything to get you to take a job that's on their books and for which they might get extra income. That doesn't mean they are incorrect.

In software engineering there is a fashionable strong movement to "devops", i.e. don't have separate design, test, operations teams in separate silos. While there is a degree of transient fashionability in that, the underlying concept is good: remove silos and make a team out of all the individuals with the relevant skills.

Development is a "red queen's race": you have to run as fast as you can just to stay still. If you are out of development, then returning risks your starting on the bottom rung.

When I was at your stage (i.e. first job for 3.5 years), I knew I didn't know whether I wanted to stay in R&D forever, or whether I woudl like to move into technical sales/marketing, or project management, or up the greasy pole. I found myself a job which involved elements of all of those, at a contract R&D house (Cambridge Consultants Ltd). That was a good decision since I was able to sample everything from analogue to semi-custom to hard real-time software, plus writing proposals and Ts&Cs, plus leading projects, plus client interaction.
There are lies, damned lies, statistics - and ADC/DAC specs.
Glider pilot's aphorism: "there is no substitute for span". Retort: "There is a substitute: skill+imagination. But you can buy span".
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Offline aiq25

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Re: Switching from R&D Engineer to Validation Engineer Concerns
« Reply #2 on: December 15, 2015, 03:22:17 am »
Recruiters are simple beings that are easy to predict: they will say anything to get you to take a job that's on their books and for which they might get extra income. That doesn't mean they are incorrect.
I completely agree.

Quote
Development is a "red queen's race": you have to run as fast as you can just to stay still. If you are out of development, then returning risks your starting on the bottom rung.
One of the reasons why I took the job was because being in R&D I don't have much experience with customer interactions, doing EMC testing, creating and following a test plan. That's why I'm hoping this experience will help improve my resume and I can get back to development. Starting at the bottom is a big concern. By the way, do you think hardware development is a good field? The reason I ask is because I know some companies are starting to or do outsource some of the hardware development.
 

Offline tggzzz

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Re: Switching from R&D Engineer to Validation Engineer Concerns
« Reply #3 on: December 15, 2015, 03:34:07 am »
By the way, do you think hardware development is a good field? The reason I ask is because I know some companies are starting to or do outsource some of the hardware development.

I'm going to avoid answering that - it completely depends your skills, personality, and what's available.

The design work has to be done somewhere by somebody.

What's involved in the design will change over time, e.g. once upon a time it was discrete RCL plus transistors, then microprocessors, then MCUs, then SOCs, plus modules of all the above. Ditto w.r.t. the software. Ditto w.r.t. systems engineering and integration.

The best advice is "do what you enjoy", "don't get trapped in a dead-end rut even if it is fur-lined", "stay current", and consider the relative merits of being "a jack of all trades and a master of none" vs "the world expert in a narrow field".

There are lies, damned lies, statistics - and ADC/DAC specs.
Glider pilot's aphorism: "there is no substitute for span". Retort: "There is a substitute: skill+imagination. But you can buy span".
Having fun doing more, with less
 

Offline Scrts

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Re: Switching from R&D Engineer to Validation Engineer Concerns
« Reply #4 on: December 15, 2015, 04:20:06 am »
If it's enjoyable for you - go for it. If you don't know if you are doing a right decision... Think if you're not stepping back because of all the recruiter lies. I've heard so much of bull**it from them. If I were you, I would not take this path and would continue to look for hardware role.
I've been exactly in this position and I didn't want to go for validation because it's extremely boring. Test and document. Almost no creativity. I went for an automotive hardware role, then after one year I became systems architect, which is really enjoyable.

So in short: I would think twice.
 

Offline aiq25

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Re: Switching from R&D Engineer to Validation Engineer Concerns
« Reply #5 on: December 15, 2015, 04:58:37 am »
Thanks for the replies. I think it might be too late for me to back out since I already sent the acceptance letter and took their drug test. I never had experience with validation so that's why I thought it would be interesting. I think my choice now is to get some experience and see how I like it and move on from there.
 

Offline Galenbo

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Re: Switching from R&D Engineer to Validation Engineer Concerns
« Reply #6 on: December 15, 2015, 08:41:55 pm »
I was contacted about a Hardware Assurance (Validation) Engineer position where it will include some hardware engineering.
Like in: Some recruiter said You will be doing "some hardware engineering"?
Like: fill in this form about hardware engineering, enter this data in SPSS.
Ask him/her what's the software you will be using for that "hardware engineering".

I'm currently an R&D Engineer...
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.
I would say the other way around. Knowing how to actually develop or produce stuff, will limit your success in being a real good "Validation Engineer"
In our area, "Validation engineers" are the guys that followed the programme, but didn't really understand what it was about.
Variations are: Security engineer, Quality engineer, Process engineer.

But accepting such a dull job, and succeed in sticking with it, proves you are able to accept whatever what.
Because of that, often, later on, these guys get into sales/management.
If you try and take a cat apart to see how it works, the first thing you have on your hands is a nonworking cat.
 

Offline tggzzz

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Re: Switching from R&D Engineer to Validation Engineer Concerns
« Reply #7 on: December 15, 2015, 10:26:07 pm »
If you want to be pessimistic, my view is that there are two times when it is acceptable to leave a company: after <1 month or >2 years.

The first indicates either a mistake was made or misrepresentation occurred. Sh1t happens, and everybody knows it.

The second indicates you made a difference (I hope!) and than you feel you are ready to make a bigger difference elsewhere.

In the middle requires more explanation, especially around any statutory employment law boundaries.
There are lies, damned lies, statistics - and ADC/DAC specs.
Glider pilot's aphorism: "there is no substitute for span". Retort: "There is a substitute: skill+imagination. But you can buy span".
Having fun doing more, with less
 

Offline aiq25

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Re: Switching from R&D Engineer to Validation Engineer Concerns
« Reply #8 on: March 18, 2016, 08:12:15 am »
Just wanted to give an update to this. I did end up taking the offer. It will be 2 months at my new job tomorrow. So far I like the company. The position is definitely dull but I am learning more about the production side of things (since coming from R&D). One thing I learned is that people are able to and do move around within the company. That gives me hope I will be able to do the same in about a year and half when I will start looking for a new position. I think roughly 1.5-2 years in this position is good enough to learn about the job and the company.
 


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