Engineering Experience: Example 2

Here’s another example from my engineering experience record for the PEO. The company developed software for the television industry and it was my first job after grad school.

Work Experience

The only wrinkle in this introductory section is that my direct supervisor at the company was not licensed engineer. Fortunately, one of my team members was licensed and agreed to act as a reference.

Start Date(after school finished)
End Date(a couple of years later)
CompanyA company in the TV industry
PositionSoftware Developer
Supervisor(My direct supervisor, not a P. Eng.)
(Mailing address)
P. Eng reference (colleague)(A former colleague, who was a P. Eng.)
(Mailing address)
License: 123456789 (PEO)
ResponsibilitiesMember of a software development team that developed and tested (programming language)-based software for digital cable television. My team was focused on (specific feature list) functionality on the client (set-top box or TV) and server.

2.2.1 Application of Theory

The most notable thing here is that I put N/A for the implementation section. Some might say “but you developed software – surely you implemented something?”. Perhaps, but that is not my interpretation of the categories in this section. Software development is part of synthesis (Design & Synthesis). Implementation means putting what you created into practice. This company did that, of course, deploying our software to millions of customers. I was not, however involved in that process (release engineering). We developed and tested the software, but were not involved in deploying it. Besides, I have the Implementation section covered in other jobs.

AnalysisTo support multiple hardware platforms (different set-top box and TV models), the software team maintained a set of automated tests to confirm that a particular platform confirmed to the expected application programming interface (API) behaviour. I wrote tests in (programming language) to evaluate if specific engineering change notices (ECNs) had been included in a firmware version. I executed these tests on beta releases of new hardware and reported issues found to the 3rd party hardware vendor.
Design and SynthesisI co-designed and developed the module responsible for the (general feature) implementation. Specifically, I developed the software module responsible for enabling and managing (specific feature).
Testing MethodsWe employed the test-driven-development (TDD) method of software development. For all software that I wrote, I first wrote unit tests to verify the basic functionality of new (programming language) classes. Then, I wrote integration level tests to verify correct functional behaviour from a collection of classes. These tests were run continuously on the team's software as it was developed. I investigated test failures to determine whether the failure was a defect in the production software, test software, hardware platform, or environment (example environment elements when developing for TV).
Implementation MethodsN/A

 2.2.2 Practical Experience

If you’re anything like me, when you are writing your experience record, you’ll feel good and confident about some of what you write and then you’ll write things that feel shaky and a bit of a stretch. This section, for this job, is one that I felt went well.

Function of components as part of the larger systemThe (description of software that I helped develop) was one component in a system that delivered a functional (TV feature descriptor) experience to the user. The middleware interfaced with the set-top hardware via the firmware. The user interacted with the system via the Electronic Program Guide (EPG) software running atop the middleware. The middleware retrieved program data via the digital cable network from the head-end (central server). Debugging and resolving issues discovered by the QA team required an understanding of the entire system. I investigated and uncovered defects in both the firmware and EPG layers which were originally filed as a defect against the middleware layer.
Limitations of practical engineering and related human systems in achieving desired goalsThe (specific TV) schedule was required to contain specific duration days of data. The resultant size of the data file meant that download time from the head-end to the client was unacceptably long. I co-developed and tested a modification to the specific software to unpack a compressed version of the schedule (packed at the head-end). The compressed file was less than 10% the size of the original file and reduced the download time to an acceptable value.
The significance of time in the engineering processOne hardware vendor, located in Japan, was late in bringing their platform up to the expected level of API conformance. In order to get back on schedule, the vendor's principal engineer visited our site, where we worked a significant amount of overtime together for one week. I demonstrated the areas of API non-conformance to this engineer and verified the firmware patches he developed to address those issues.
Knowledge and understanding of codes, standards, regulations and laws that govern applicable engineering activitiesThe middleware I co-developed was required to conform to the (speicific software standard) to satisfy a requirement of the (regulatory body) that by July 1, 2007 set-top boxes and other digital cable television 3rd party devices should be interchangeably usable on any proprietary cable television network. I read and interpreted the relevant sections of the specific standard in order to design and develop the (software description). For one issue related to (specific feature), I discovered an ambiguity in the (spec name) specification, which I worked with the specification authors and various hardware vendors to clarify.

2.2.3 Management of Engineering

As I mentioned previously, sectioned marked as N/A are covered in entries for other jobs. If you’re only writing up a single job for your experience record, I recommend breaking your experience record into different projects. Either way, make sure that each sub-section has at least one answer throughout your record.

PlanningOur software development followed the Agile methodology, instead of the more traditional Waterfall method. This entailed planning our work in bi-weekly iterations. I participated in and eventually led iteration planning meetings where team members discussed and then estimated upcoming tasks in terms of effort required.
SchedulingAdhering to the Agile methodology, I updated burn-down charts that showed the progress for a given bi-weekly iteration, represented the team at company-wide stand-up meetings to discuss blocking issues and participated in retrospective meetings to review the strengths and weaknesses of our scheduling and estimation techniques.
BudgetingN/A
SupervisionI represented the team at daily company-wide stand-up meetings intended to review and address any schedule-blocking issues. When the (name of my team) team's manager was not present (e.g. due to sick leave or vacation), I fulfilled his duties, including moderating the team's daily internal stand-up meetings and being the team's external representative to other development teams and 3rd parties.
Project ControlN/A
Risk AssessmentN/A

2.2.4 Communication Skills

If there’s one thing you get exposed to quite a bit during graduate studies, it’s communication. Heck, I took a graduate level course on scientific communication. Let’s face it, in the majority of jobs when you are fresh out of school, you will rarely have the opportunity to give presentations, internally or to the public. However, even the most junior positions involve some form of communication.

Preparing written workI wrote daily e-mail correspondence with internal and external team members, management, and 3rd party partners. I wrote weekly status reports on my activities during the previous week. I wrote and revised design documents for (general feature) components, such as (specific feature).
Oral Reports or PresentationsI provided daily oral updates to management at the company-wide stand-up meeting on the progress and challenges facing the (name of my team) team in their current development iteration.
Presentations to General PublicN/A

 2.2.5 Social Implications of Engineering

If I can describe a benefit to the public, from developing software that enables people to watch television, you can do it for your past work experience.

The value of benefits of engineering work to the publicThe implementation of the (standard name) platform on the (big North American cable company) cable network meant that (cable company) customers were no longer required to rent or buy hardware from a single vendor. This introduction of competition into the set-top technology space resulted in increased choice at competitive pricing for the consumer.
The safeguards in place to protect the employees and the public and mitigate adverse impactsI co-implemented and tested the parental control module, which allowed parents to implement a PIN-protected access to a subset of viewing content (e.g. content inappropriate for children). This module included a PIN lockout functionality, which would disable PIN entry for a period of time if the PIN was erroneously entered on 3 consecutive tries. If the set-top box lost communication with the program schedule server, all non-described content would become PIN-locked, in order to protect children viewers.
The relationship between engineering activity and the public at largeN/A
The significant role of regulatory agencies on the practice of engineeringThe FCC's ruling that cable customers must be able to use 3rd party hardware to view digital cable content is what motivated the development of an standard name-capable middleware. The deadline of the ruling (July 1st, 2007) also placed an aggressive constraint on the engineering timelines.

That’s it for my stint in TV land. If you actually read through the whole thing, please take the time to leave a comment, tweet at me, or send me an e-mail. It would be invaluable for me to hear whether these posts are of use to anyone. If I’m not providing the type of information or advice you need, let me know and I’ll do my best to rectify that!

Next up: my first position in the medical devices field.

14 Replies to “Engineering Experience: Example 2”

  1. Briefly read though your scope relating your experience with the sections asked from PEO, very helpful, thank you. For the sub-sections where you put N/A, is that ok to do? Considering that would be the truth and it really does not apply in your case, meaning would PEO accept that answer? I’m asking this because on some sub-sections I would need to put N\A because I don’t see how my examples would apply.
    In other words, I graduated in 2006, (worked for contractors doing non-engineering work) started working with a consulting firm in 2008, but my work is related to inspections. From time to time I get asked to look at a change in the contract that is not practical to construct therefore implementing civil engineering type skills while estimating the costs associated to those changes. I’m worried that as soon as PEO sees “inspections” on my title, it’s not engineering type applications and they will not approve my report. Any thought on this?
    Also, I’m assuming you did get your P.Eng therefore making those answers of N/A acceptable.

    Thanks
    Anth

    1. Hi Anth,

      Thanks for your question, it’s a good one. I’m sorry it took me so long to apply – I haven’t been paying much attention to the blog for a while and even worse, I wasn’t getting notified of these comments.

      Before I answer, please consider that I haven’t received my P.Eng. yet. No problems with the application, but I deferred writing the PPE a couple of times due to personal circumstances (various life events that made time for studying and writing difficult to find). I recently did write the PPE though and now await word from the PEO. I imagine because there has been such a delay between my experience record and writing the PPE that they may ask me to update my experience record, which should be fairly simple.

      As for the N/A’s, this is just my guess, and not an official answer, but I believe that using N/A should be fine, as long as you have those categories covered in another job or position. Although I have N/A’s throughout my experience record, there isn’t one category for which I don’t have experience listed under at least one entry. This is probably not apparent because I haven’t posted my entire experience record yet.

      Hope this helps!

  2. Cool write-up, sir. I appreciated the examples. My application is in massive walls of text and i’m working to condense. Your format seems easier to read than mine (cellular and just a few sentences.

    Well done!

    1. I’m glad it helped. I have to apologize for being away for so long. I’m hoping to add more to the blog soon. I recently wrote the PPE (haven’t heard the results yet, but fairly confident that I passed). Now I play the waiting game!

  3. Wow, this is such a great resource! I wish I found this 6 months earlier when I started writing this… Would have saved me a LOT of trouble!

    Congratulations on obtaining your P.Eng designation btw. 🙂

    Question: you mentioned above that if you have worked only one job to list projects: how would you display that on the record, based on your template? I’m assuming that one would put that under “Company”; you list the company name and the name of the project you worked on at that company, or something like that.

    I’m going to pass this site along to others who still need to write their records. Thanks again!

    1. Thank you kindly for the feedback and congratulations. It’s great to hear that people are finding useful information here. Please do refer this site to anyone else who might benefit from it.

      For the project-based template, check out the link I provided to Darryl Stahlke’s experience record, which was the inspiration for my template (http://pengapplicant.ca/engineering-experience-record-template/). In his record, he lists projects performed for the same employer, if I recall.

  4. Hello Sir,

    I have finished all the requirements of PEO and submitted by experience records and they called me for interview. I have been told to get additional 1 year experience. I am an electrical engineer with 7 year Canadian and 3 years international experience.

    Is it possible if you could help me with the write up for experience records or if i can get example of electrical design that would be great. I am working in consulting field.

  5. This site is very beneficial, I am also in interested in experience samples related to civil and environmental engineering

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