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Developing AI at Intel Romania: A Conversation with a Software Engineering Manager

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If someone asked him about the best place to work, Dragos Carciumaru, an AI software engineering manager, would say Intel without hesitation. We recently spoke with him about his return to Intel, what he looks for in job candidates and what makes Intel Romania special.


Dragos, could you tell us about your career at Intel?

I graduated in computer science from the Politehnica University of Bucharest, started my career as a software developer and joined Intel in 2011 as an operations manager in Bucharest. I quit in 2019, only to receive an offer to come back in 2021. I immediately took the job, because I like the company, the culture and I truly enjoyed working at Intel. I think it’s a great place to work. I’m now an AI software engineering manager at the Timisoara Site, in the west of Romania.

 

What are your responsibilities as a manager and what exactly does your team do?

I have, of course, the usual management responsibilities. I hire people, integrate them into the team, take care of performance management, provide coaching and feedback, remove roadblocks and support employee development. Our business unit is called Versatile Processing Unit (VPU). We basically work on accelerators for AI, a piece of hardware that’s used for deep learning. My team oversees building simulators, where we reproduce these hardware accelerators in software. The software developers, instead of waiting for the hardware to be ready, can prepare and write their code in this simulator. It saves everyone a lot of time, since the software developers can start writing the code much sooner. We call this “shift-left,” and it ultimately helps the company have a shorter time-to-market.

 

You create something that is used by many other companies, right?

Absolutely. I would say that this is one of the main advantages of working on our team.

 

What other advantages would you highlight?

I think it’s the technologies we work on—these are really interesting projects. Not many companies offer the possibility of working with VPU hardware. Plus, our team is made up of really experienced and motivated people. It’s very rewarding working with such talented individuals.

 

How do the technologies you work on impact everyday life?

We are working on AI technology that will be part of the next generation of Intel chips. Basically, our technology will be accessible to every person who buys Intel-powered devices. So, probably every person in the world will come across the technologies that we’re working on.

 

What qualities and skills make an ideal candidate for your team?

We are looking for people with strong programming skills, in C and C++ programming languages and for people that understand both software and hardware. When we build simulators, we need the understanding of both. We hire people with junior, medium and senior experience. We invest a lot in employee growth; we want to provide employees everything that can help them advance in their career. We find them mentors and they receive a lot of support in moving forward in the company.

 

Since Intel puts a lot of emphasis on employee development, does that mean that someone with no experience can join Intel?

Yes. I believe in the 70:20:10 model for learning and development. When you’re acquiring knowledge of something new, you learn 70% by doing it, 20% from others and 10% is taught in training. We also have internship programs, and we’ve been very successful with our interns—many end up working at the company full time. Some of our senior engineers began as interns.

 

What is working at Intel like and what’s special about Intel Romania?

I would say that Intel is quite diverse in terms of locations and business units. In addition to the site in Timisoara, there are sites in Galati and Brasov. Since there’s strong software talent in Romania, the work is very software focused. Moreover, we aim to have a good mix of male and female engineers, so we invest in diversity programs. We also invest in university programs as we want to attract the best talent and give them the opportunity to work for Intel and learn new skills and technologies. Our team follows the Agile methodology, which enables us to show our clients prototypes and get early feedback, as well as integrate changes more quickly and release products more often. Collaboration is also highly important at Intel, and we work with teams from other Intel sites all over Europe and the United States.

 

Is there something about working at Intel that you’d like to emphasize?

I would emphasize that I decided to return to Intel. It’s such a great company that I came back! Plus, Intel is very focused on employees' well-being. We have many programs, including “wellness hours,” which are in addition to regular vacation days, to help us manage the personal impacts of working from home due to COVID-19. I think that it’s very important to notice that Intel takes care of the mental comfort of employees.

 

Interested in joining one of the teams at Intel Romania? Explore available job offers today.

 

 

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