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In 2007, Cadence launched its Academic Network to promote its technologies and methodologies at universities renowned for their engineering and design excellence. Today, the Cadence Academic Network is a robust community of universities, research institutes, industry advisors, and Cadence technology experts who share expertise in the design, verification, and implementation of microelectronic systems.
George Cochrane is a Munich, Germany-based intern with the Cadence Academic Network. I felt that George, who finished his last exam a week before joining Cadence, would have some interesting insights on how academic/business collaboration can support future engineers.
Here's what we talked about:
I understand you recently completed a master's program at Oxford. Tell me about your educational background.
I have an undergraduate master’s degree in engineering science. I was quite lucky to be able to learn about a variety of engineering disciplines: mechanical, civil, electronic, even biomedical modules. I got the opportunity to see what I liked most and, as expected, it was electronics. For my thesis, I designed a low-power transceiver for the analog TV spectrum.
What sparked your interest in technology?
I can trace my interest back to playing guitar. I started teaching myself guitar several years ago. At 15, I got an electric guitar kit that had no wiring diagrams, so that fueled a lot of searching through online forums for schematics. Next I was building small amplifiers and effects, which got me into electronics. I realized that if I could build something myself, I could tailor it based on what I want.
What led you to Cadence?
I used Cadence tools in my master’s thesis on low-power transceiver design, specifically the Virtuoso simulation tools. So I was familiar with Cadence when I learned about the company’s internship program.
How is the Cadence Academic Network team keeping you busy?
I’m responsible for maintaining contracts and renewals for the universities. Through this work, I’m learning about the finance and legal sides and gaining insight into tools used for different areas. I’m also exploring new ways to provide software to the universities as well as promoting Cadence’s involvement in governmental projects with our network of academia and research institutions.
Do you see any untapped opportunities in which academia and business can further collaborate?
From my experience, I engaged most with engineering when presented with real-world applications. It’s great to get to see case studies or lectures from companies to understand how the theory and thought patterns match up to the problems companies constantly face. It can be a great advertisement for the company providing this, too.
In your experience, is academia in sync with what business needs from its workforce (in terms of skills, preparation, etc.)?
Mostly yes. I found that at university, the transition between learning simple technologies, fundamental maths tools, and physics equations to learning about independent problem-solving is valuable for the business world. You’re not always presented with an area that you know, you’re constantly given new concepts, so you have to figure out how to assimilate and apply them…that’s exactly what a company needs.
Tell me about your career aspirations. How can an internship help?
Electronics is my underlying passion. I have analog in my background, but it’s great to now be in a position where I see progress in digital tools and the next wave in electronic design. I’m in contact with so many areas, so there’s a massive source of possibilities. I am keeping myself open at the moment, and making plenty of contacts who are encouraging me to do what they do!
Who inspires you?
Nikola Tesla, the ultimate mad scientist. I describe him as a geek in the best sense of the term, passionate and unstoppable in creating cool stuff. He wasn’t motivated by money and so didn’t find the immediate recognition of someone like Edison, but looking back at the list of his inventions, from AC electricity to the fundamentals of modern communications, he was a truly incredible engineer.
What motivates you?
Good outcomes. It’s always great when you solve a problem and help a customer. I also like the implicit sense of progress, so after solving a problem I will try to find out why it came up in the first place, how to prevent it. I never like to get too stagnant on things, I like to keep progressing and improving.