Peter Birch, a Senior Front-End Design Engineer, has been part of the Blu Wireless team for three and a half years. During this time, he has become an integral part of the Silicon Team. From designing IP blocks for our silicon products, to managing the methodology of how they are built, Peter’s role within the company has rapidly ramped up. We sat down with him recently to talk about his job and life at Blu Wireless.
What does a typical day in your role look like? What are your core responsibilities?
I’m a Senior Front-End Engineer in the Silicon Team, which means I design the IP blocks that go into our silicon products at the very base of our offering as a company. I am also responsible for design methodology: strategising how we build the product and how we enable engineers to work more efficiently to deliver a higher quality result for internal and external projects.
What do you enjoy most about your role?
I really enjoy seeing the full design process and being able to work on multidisciplinary projects. Tasks I undertake range from infrastructure to hardware design, to firmware running on the processors inside the chip, and even software and documentation.
With this wide scope of activities, I get to work across the entire design process, which means there is always an interesting challenge to solve and lots of lessons to be learnt. This multidisciplinary nature is inevitable in a company of our size and being able to flex and stretch is quite crucial.
How has your career progressed at Blu Wireless? Have you experienced any changes of role or taken on responsibility for any significant projects?
Blu Wireless was only my second job after university, and I started here within a year of graduating, so quite early on in my professional career. I joined as an Engineer and have since been promoted to be a Senior Design Engineer, a role that I’ve held for about two years.
With recent projects I’ve had increasing responsibility for the design methodology, so the tools and methods we use to construct complex ASICs. I’ve also had opportunities to participate in architecture and design of IP blocks for our products, and I really enjoy getting hands-on with digital logic design.
What has been your favourite project to work on at Blu Wireless and what was your role within that?
As Blu Wireless designs modems for high-speed, low latency, fifth-generation wireless connectivity – one really interesting problem is how you test real, manufactured devices in an artificial environment such as a lab while creating reproducible test scenarios that accurately model the real world. There aren’t many ‘off-the-shelf’ products which address this problem, so we’ve had to design and build a custom solution. This project has involved creating a bespoke architecture, digital logic design, firmware, and software – so has been a fantastic challenge. The end result is great for product development and has grown our experience in this field.
How did you start out your career? What made you decide to join Blu Wireless?
My first job out of university was working for a much larger hardware IP company. I joined that company to build design experience, but I also gained some familiarity with verification, sign-off and the preparation of a design to be released to customers – so I gained first-hand experience with the life cycle of IP development. This was a good introduction to the silicon industry.
However, I wanted digital design work to form a larger part of my role – so I applied to join Blu Wireless. The smaller team also gave me more exposure to the entire silicon design process rather than just a portion of it. I hoped it would be a great learning opportunity, and it certainly has been.
If you had to describe Blu Wireless in three words, what would these be?
Fast-moving, wide-ranging, challenging.
What do you like about working with the rest of the Blu Wireless team?
It is a very nice community, where everyone is approachable. There is a great mix of younger people and experienced hands. You have a combination of people who are very enthusiastic and bringing new ideas to the table, balanced by those who have been in the industry longer, and bring in-depth experience of how things work and have previously been done, but equally are open to considering new ways of approaching tasks. This allows for open discussions within the team.
What would you say to anyone who was considering applying to Blu Wireless?
You have to be prepared for a challenge. You will be part of a small and agile team, so you will be visible, and you will be asked lots of questions. In turn, you will develop a wide range of capabilities and skills. There is a big learning and growth opportunity here, so for those who look for challenges and opportunities to step up, they will find them. If you want more responsibility you can take it, which I think is great and a very different culture to larger companies.