Hardware Engineering Co-op at Broadcom

Hardware Engineering Co-op at Broadcom

By: Shervin Asgari Pour
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Working at Broadcom over the past 16 months as a Hardware Engineering co-op student has been both challenging and rewarding. Broadcom is Fortune 500 Company and a worldwide leader in offering wired and wireless semiconductor communications solutions. Broadcom was established by engineers  in 1991 and is also driven by them; over the past 16 months, it expanded from employing eleven thousand people to over fourteen thousand employees in over fifteen countries around the world, with over seventy five percent of its employees in the engineering field. The past 16 months have been filled with lots of exciting, challenging, and hard work; yet it has also been filled with lots of fun and memorable experiences.

Working with such a talented team of engineers has been an extremely satisfying and rewarding experience; I’ve learned to deal effectively with the different teams within Broadcom, and to debug and to solve the varying issues that I’ve been faced in a timely and efficient manner. Management at Broadcom does not differentiate between co-op and full time employees; we are all expected to work hard and to work well within our teams to ensure that the designated work is done properly and in a timely fashion. Additionally, I have vastly improved my communication, document writing, and networking skills and abilities to meet  industry standards.

As a hardware engineering co-op student, my main duties include working on prototype smartphones and tablets, providing engineering support to the hardware team, and offering assistance to the software teams as well. The majority of the support provided to the hardware team includes ample amounts of testing and debugging of smartphone and tablet Printed Circuit Boards (PCBs) and Integrated Circuits (ICs)to ensure that the builds perform according to the set expectations. Testing includes analyzing signals on scopes, power analyzers, and spectrum analyzers and comparing resulting signals to expected outputs as presented in the chip datasheets.

Support to the hardware team comes in form of testing of not only Broadcom reference tablets and smartphones, but also a variety of different ICs and third party devices such as instrumentation amplifiers, voltage convertors, and regulators. These devices are built onto prototype boards as per the datasheet specifications; once the prototype boards have been built, tested, and verified to work as per expectations, they are used in conjunction with a variety of Broadcom products for further testing purposes. One such project that I worked on included building five different amplifier circuits and using them for extensive current measurement testing on Broadcom reference tablets. The results of all five were then compared and the best device was picked to allow for current measurement in future iterations of Broadcom reference design tablets and Smartphones.

Most of the support provided to the software teams comes in the form of modifications that are made to the actual hardware, such modifications include considerable amount of soldering of a variety of different ICs, resistors, capacitors, inductors, fly-wires, and connectors and vary according to the demands and needs of the software teams. Mechanical modifications on the Smartphone and tablet enclosures are also made on occasion.

My organizational skills have also improved drastically. Having set deadlines has helped to shape the way I go about tackling problems and tasks and prioritizing my response to any outstanding issues. Feedback from the team has also helped me to become more efficient and a lot more productive; it has allowed me to view problems from different angles and has helped me to find solutions in a more systematic way.

Broadcom is not just all about work, the company treats its employees really well. Over the past 16 months, we’ve had a few different team building events where we challenged our team members in paintball, bowling, and go-karting. The work atmosphere is great and the management is really approachable, friendly, and fun. Working at Broadcom has definitely provided me with invaluable real life work experience in conjunction with lots of fun and great memories; I will miss working here!

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Posted on April 28, 2013