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Intel Finland: A thermal design engineer’s hardware career journey

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Meet Sanna Peurala, a Hardware Engineer for Intel. Her areas of expertise are thermal and Electromagnetic compatibility (EMC). Sanna works for Intel's Emerging Growth and Incubation (EGI) organization. We recently caught up with Sanna to hear about her 25-year journey in hardware engineering, what inspires her and how she maintains a work-life balance.


How many years of experience do you have as a hardware engineer? What did you do in your early career?

I started working in the hardware engineering field in 1996, making it 25 years this year. Initially, I was a hardware engineering intern at Finnelpro Oy, a Finnish electrical engineering design company, where I wrote my M.Sc. thesis about EMC in digital x-ray imaging systems. After I finished, I realized that I had fallen in love with the EMC topic.

Soon after my graduation, I applied for a job at Nokia, first as EMC type approval test engineer, and later as EMC design engineer. I worked at Nokia for 13 years in product design, several hardware platform designs and supported integrated circuit (IC) EMC design as a Principal Specialist. When I decided it was time to move forward, I applied for a job at the Intel Finland office in Tampere in 2011, and I’ve worked here for the last ten years.


Why did you choose Intel Finland?

It was an easy decision to join Intel. The position that I applied for was very appealing and suited me perfectly. I already had some contacts working at Intel, and a few of my old colleagues from Nokia joined Intel around the same time.


What exactly does your team/business group do?

Our business group is a product development unit that aims to identify, develop, and commercialize new ideas into products. Its mission is to create an environment to identify, incubate, and scale new billion-dollar businesses by leveraging Intel's competitive advantages. Our team is a horizontal engineering group for prototyping and enabling different innovative products and ventures.


What is your role at Intel Finland?

I'm a thermal design engineer in our local hardware design team. My responsibility is finding optimized thermal solutions for our designs, running thermal simulations to support the design work, and thermal testing. I still work in the EMC design area, but my primary responsibility has changed to thermal design recently.


How has your career developed at Intel?

During my first nine years at Intel, I worked locally as an EMC design engineer on several different projects and teams. Additionally, I supported Intel teams at other sites since they didn’t have their own EMC engineer. I learned to use EMC simulation tools efficiently, making them suitable as part of our internal design process. EMC simulations have made it possible to pass required certification tests for very complex designs with only one or two design rounds. Last year, I got a chance to learn new skills in thermal design and thermal simulations. I'm now a thermal design engineer on our team.


What makes your group successful?

Successful projects start with talented people. We have very experienced and talented employees on our Finland team, with long track records in electronics, mechanics, software, firmware, drivers, operating systems—you name it! Our group has the holistic knowledge to execute projects from start to finish, and we are the ‘one-stop-shop’ for the whole product. Our track record consists of many product deliveries and design wins.


What’s the biggest challenge in your current work?

The biggest challenge for me is to remember to take short breaks during the workday. I often get so focused and feel so passionate about the work that I forget to take them! On days when I take these breaks, I'm more energized and relaxed.


What excites you most about working in your business group?

I've been given a chance to work on several different projects and support other Intel teams in the EMC area at Intel. I’ve had the opportunity to challenge and surpass my previous work with different kinds of designs. I’ve learned a lot and grown my expertise with all the passion I have for EMC and thermal design. I’ve also been given time to learn new things, and our team is fearless in implementing new ideas. I like working with experts in many fields, for example, thermal design is heavily based in mechanics and software. At Intel Finland we have a great team spirit and a can-do attitude.


What is special about working at Intel Finland?

You can grow as an expert in your area and learn new skills that are needed on your team, or even pursue your own areas of interest. At Intel Finland there is strong support for learning new skills and bringing new ideas that can be developed further. We have a very experienced and talented team, and it’s easy to fit in and be part of our team.


Which Intel values appeal to you the most?

I can say that all of Intel's values are visible in the day-to-day work of our team. The top values for me are One Intel, Integrity, Results Driven, and Quality. As a team, we work for One Intel. I want to be open and honest, so that my team can get the best possible results in time; both EMC design and thermal design drive product quality.


Is it possible to maintain a work-life balance while working at Intel?

Yes, Intel's culture encourages employees to both live and work at their best, and there are broad healthcare and wellbeing benefits offered for our Finland employees. Intel supports employees' physical and mental wellbeing holistically by providing a variety of options. We have, for example, sports benefits to encourage us to join different sports activities, like going to the gym or swimming pools.

I also have flexible working hours, which means that I can arrange my working day to fit my life. I have taken time during the workday for gym exercise, walks with my dog or playing my violin. Sometimes workdays are long due to tight project schedules, but I have the ability to take time off. Since Intel Finland is still primarily working remotely, I’ve been able to sleep longer in the mornings and be more relaxed for each new workday.

We've also been given COVID-19 related benefits. For example, Intel is offering paid time-off for wellness during the pandemic, and we can take 12 hours of paid time-off during each half of the year to focus on wellness.


What makes for the ideal job candidate for Intel Finland?

An ideal candidate is an enthusiastic person and a team player who is willing to go above and beyond on any project and to learn valuable new skills. Good communication is important, as well as a ‘can do’ attitude.

The Intel Architecture, Graphics and Software (IAGS) group is currently hiring in Espoo, Finland. Candidates should have a good understanding of C/C++ programming skills or Python scripting, experience developing system software for Linux OS, and extensive debugging and system integration skills.


Want to know more about Intel Finland? Check out this Graphics Software Engineer role or see all jobs at Intel Finland.