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Electrical Engineer Tests New Memory Designs For Intel’s Latest Innovations

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SodiqSideView-e1563812288666.jpgName: Sodiq Balogun, Design Engineer

Degree: University of District of Columbia, M.S., Electrical Engineering, 2016

Division: Non-Volatile Memory Solutions Group, Hudson, MA

My name is Sodiq Balogun. I have been at Intel for the past 1.5 years, and it’s been an exciting experience so far. My team and I are in charge of non-volatile memory within Intel. The products we design go into memory devices like the new  Intel® Optane™ memory that was recently launched, and also storage devices like solid state devices (SSDs) in your PC.

To the layman, I am a software engineer. I use a hardware description language to write code to build hardware. I work end-to-end with a designer who designs a block of logic for the memory controller. I then develop a verification test bench, a virtual environment used to verify the correctness of the design, to test what the designer creates. The testing and debugging process continues until both the test bench and the design block are 100% with no errors.

A day in the life

7:30 amThis is where my day begins. Getting out of bed is always a struggle since I am certainly not a morning person. Since I work with a lot of people on the West Coast, and there is a three hour time difference, my day doesn't fully start till about noon.

9:00 amI badge in at the office and go straight to the cafeteria to get my daily infused water and some fresh fruit, which is an Intel perk for employees.

9:15 amI get to my cube, review my daily to-do list, and run through my unread emails.

10:00 amHere is where I typically check the tests I kicked off the night before and look for any unwanted behaviors or errors in the simulation. Just found a new bug! Doing verification is interesting when you find a bug. Believe it or not designers (and the team) are always happy when you find a bug. It's counter intuitive but finding a bug before the product is released to a customer makes people happy!

12:00 pmTime for lunch. My team here consists of about 20 people, and usually about 10 of us will go to lunch together. We treat this as a great opportunity to do some team bonding, and so we sit at a table, crack jokes, and talk about a wide variety of things, like the weather. Everyone loves to hear me complain about the New England weather. This gathering is good because I get to know what is going on with my team members outside of work.

1:00 pmTime for meetings. A team that develops one of the tools I use has developed an updated version, and they want me and other users to test it out. We meet over Skype to discuss issues we found with the tool, possible new features we would like added, and questions about how to use the current features.

1:30 pmNext, I run to a biweekly NIA (Network of Intel African Americans) meeting to discuss some current trends affecting people of color and discuss the high school visit we are planning.

2:00 pmEmails are coming in – My manager is requesting a status report due Friday and he also just approved my travel to Folsom, CA to meet with the designer! I also just learned about a new campus recruiting trip coming up I might be able to join. Lastly, my team got word that one of our teammates will be relocating to the Texas campus, so we are planning a surprise for him and I can’t wait!

3:40 pmMy meeting with the verification team lead ended a little early. I step into the meditation room to say my mid-day prayers then head downstairs to play some ping-pong in the game room.

4:00 pmFinish some last emails before I close my laptop for the day, and then check on my to-do list for tomorrow. The designer updated the design today by adding a few new features and fixed some old bugs. I didn’t get to run it inside my test bench yet, so I’ll work on that tomorrow morning.

5:00 pmAs soon as I leave work, I pay a visit to the gym on Intel’s campus. Having a gym on campus lets me do things like step out of the office mid-day, get a quick workout, and come back to my desk in my gym clothes to do more work. The gym and free personal trainers on-site are my favorite Intel perks!

6:00 pmOnce my workout is over I head home for dinner. I made some pounded yam and egusi soup that I’ll eat while I catch up on some of my shows and favorite YouTube channels.

As a graduate student, having the opportunity to intern with Intel became the beginning of a lifetime of excellence and influential innovation. Looking back, my transition to a full time employee has been extremely rewarding and I am excited about the exciting experiences in the future.
About the Author
Heather Mattisson is a Program Manager in Global Diversity & Inclusion, and enjoys writing about the witty side of life.