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Alan Tetley (September 1999 - December 1999)

Name: Alan Tetley

School: Washington University in St. Louis

Major: Electrical Engineering

Co-op period: September 1999 - December 1999

Current school/company and what you do:
Microsoft. SDE/T Lead (SDE/T = Software Design Engineer in Test) in Windows Mobile. My team is in charge of writing test tools, automated tests, and tracking metrics (perf, reliability, battery life).

Current Location:
Seattle, WA

What was the interview process like?

I don't remember the interview very well – what I do remember was the EE aptitude test. It was the first time I'd been tested.

What did you do?

I remember 4 major tasks:

1) Getting WinCE up & running on a CEPC. This involved parsing through a bunch of crappy documentation and a trial & error approach to getting the thing booting. Funny to think this was so hard (I think the interns before me spent an extra 6 months on top of the time I spent) and now where I work I build & boot these almost daily =). This was very frustrating for a long time, but was a big payoff (very rewarding) when I finally got it working.

2) Testing a calibrator tool. Thinking back this was my first real job testing, which is what my career is now. At the time, however, I found it pretty boring, since it was very repetitive. In the end it was cool because the work paid off and the calibrator tool finally met the specifications it was designed for.

3) Fixing returned wheel-balancer motors. This was cool because I got to diagnose issues, use the soldering iron to fix the boards, and then test out if they worked. The main disappointment was I wasn't able to fix a lot of the boards because I didn't know how to diagnose the whole system – I could only address a specific set of issues.

4) Implementing the IR portion of a larger hardware project. This was my bread-and-butter project, and was an awesome project to get as an intern. The goal was to communicate with a CE device over IrDA with a simple 8-bit microcontroller, so I reverse engineered the CE device to figure out the minimal set of stuff necessary to communicate with it. I got to do so many of the things I enjoy – wiring up the IrDA hardware, writing software for the mcu & ce device, dissecting protocols, etc. This also ended up giving the experience that helped me get an internship at Microsoft working on mobile devices.

Would you do it again?
Yes – got great experience. I found in all my internships I learned more in 1 summer than all my other years in college

What was the dress code?

I think I wore slacks & a collared shirt. If I knew I was going to see higher-ups I would wear a tie.

Overall the corporate culture was quite different than what I do now. Hunter was arrive @ 8:30, eat lunch from 12:15 -1 (normally worked out), leave @ 5. I never stayed late (even if I wanted to I couldn't as I'd get locked out ;). At Microsoft I work crazy hours, my hours change from day-to-day, and lunch varies between snarf-at-desk and leisurely-bask-in-the-sun. I also wear major grubs at all times.

Was the work more individual or group work and how does it compare with what
you are doing today?

More individual than what I do today. Also more localized. I would typically work with 1 or 2 people on each project (if anyone), and everyone had a pretty similar goal set in mind. In my current job I'm often coordinating teams working with multiple other teams, all of whom have different priorities and different goals.

What are the pros/cons of working in Saint Louis? (Maybe compare it to where you
are now)

I'm from Missouri so I like Saint Louis. Big enough it's got everything, but it's still a friendly midwest town. Seattle is very different, but I have to admit the outdoor activities here are better (hiking in mountains, scuba, snowboarding).

What were your living arrangements during co-op?
Lived at school with roommates in school. Sucked when I had to wake up and go to work @ 7 in the morning, as my roommates were on school hours (they'd often still be up when I woke up). However, awesome on the weekends since I didn't have homework ;).

How was the supervision?
The people at Hunter were awesome. Very friendly, lots of camaraderie. I was given meaningful projects and given the opportunity to grow (which means succeeding or failing on my own). Plus who can forget the Friday DQ trips =).

Anything else you'd like to tell us about yourself?
I eventually ended up graduating with a degree in Computer Engineering. My exposure to software during my co-op made me lean towards more of the software side, but I realized how much I enjoyed working with hardware, so this seemed like a natural switch.