The joy in getting a light emitting diode to illuminate
“For those of us who work with embedded software, there is great joy in getting a light emitting diode to illuminate.” So says Anders Ernevi, who works as a software developer within Embedded at Semcon.
Not everyone understands that joy. Perhaps because it’s not a question of a diode illuminating, but of all the hard work and code that lies behind this particular diode illuminating.
"Sometimes there are months of work behind it. To illuminate a light emitting diode is nothing, but to illuminate this particular diode is everything."
For Anders, the work of a software developer is about solving problems. The restricted environment for embedded software often leads to complex challenges that demand determination and cooperation.
“It can sometimes be a great struggle in situations when everything should work but doesn’t. Finding the solution is incredibly rewarding.”
Learning about different systems and industries
Anders has worked as a software developer at Semcon since 2007. The great variation in assignments has led him to learning about many different systems and industries.
“I like the mix we have here, both sitting in-house and working in teams on projects, and sometimes being out on assignment with customers. Visiting a company gives me new knowledge and always contributes to ideas. Since this is the case for most consultants at Semcon, there is a constant exchange of knowledge here. It’s very stimulating and a lot of fun.”
For a year now, Anders has been working on a project for an automotive industry customer, which is similar to the black box in an aircraft. The purpose of the box that Anders is working on is to monitor the various systems in a car to ensure that processes take place in the correct order. And to record the times when they don’t.
System that keeps track of 100 computers in a car
“It’s fun because the assignment is so varied. One week I might be working in a PC tool, and the next week tinkering with an embedded Linux system. It might be at driver level, with very hardware-intensive fixes. We also need to think about the interface, so that the data we log are easily accessible and useful. The complexity increases rapidly because everything has to move so quickly, at the same time as there are around 100 computers in a modern car, which our system has to keep track of.”
One person sitting alone is rarely enough for success. That’s why a large part of the job is about collaboration and getting the most out of the team.
“One valuable thing I have learned over the years is that software development is about teamwork. The challenges we face are increasingly complex, and it’s difficult for one person to have all the knowledge and experience required to meet them. Ours is a creative and somewhat geeky culture that means we constantly bounce-off each other and test different ideas. We pick up new ideas and we talk about them, as well as about our ways of working, and how we can create better solutions for our customers. This is very empowering, and at the same time to be part of a good team gives support and encouragement.”
People from all over Semcon meet up in the lab
At Semcon, there is a wide range of projects in progress simultaneously. This is particularly evident in the lab at the Gothenburg office, where the 3D printers run hot while people test and build.
“There’s a bit of everything possible in the lab, where people meet from all over Semcon. Once I was sitting down and doing a bit of soldering while a team was testing fabric through ironers for a customer. It’s also great to be able to 3D-print different things, which means we can test ideas very quickly.”
There’s also the freedom to test private projects in the lab, which can be on just about anything thanks to the culture, curiosity and competence in the building.
“My personal interests are music and electronics and I build effects pedals, among other things. One fun thing about Semcon is that there are people who are interested in just about everything. And build ideas from it. Recently, a colleague was investigating whether he could build a sensor for his heating boiler. Others print out components for robots they are building.”