A conversation with our engineering intern

This week, we invited Stephen Matz, part of our intern class of 2019, to reflect on his time with Champion ONE and offer advice to potential future interns. Check out our full interview below.

Tell me a little bit about your background. What attracted you to joining Champion ONE?

I am a student at Cleveland State University studying Electrical Engineering. My interests are in hardware design and communications/information theory. I met Tim Yanda while he was a guest speaker at an alumni panel discussion for a student organization and learned that he is the Director of Engineering at Champion ONE. Tim mentioned that Champion ONE was looking for engineering interns to work on specific projects, and I was drawn to the opportunity by my connection with Tim, the technical hardware redesign, and exposure to the telecommunications industry.

Talk about a typical day for you at Champion ONE.

The typical day for me often took many different types. Some days, I spent a lot of time at the desk working on the laptop; sometimes, I had meetings to attend; other days, I was working on equipment in the lab – away from the desk completely. In general, I started my day with a cup of coffee, review the tasks due that day and in the next few days, and address any emails I received while I was out of the office before continued working on whichever project I had at the time. The day often ended when I had progressed to a good stopping point on a project, so that I wouldn’t leave a project in one train of thought and return the next day in a completely different one.

What sorts of projects have you been working on?

I’ve worked on several projects: enhancements to the uTune Director; the AOC/DAC/Breakout Cable product line expansion; oscilloscopes and test equipment; updates to our Glossary of Terms; and updating test procedures and documentation to fully support 400G data rates going forward, including I2C documentation and test procedures; a complete oscilloscope and test equipment document; and eye diagram testing procedure.

For every project, a lot of research was required to ensure complete familiarity. That usually meant reading through lengthy data sheets, application notes, engineering standards, schematics, textbooks, and online resources to be sure I had a thorough understanding whatever I had to do.

What is the most valuable thing you’ve learned from your experience here?

In a technical mindset, I learned that the best way to learn something new is to do it. While studying and reviewing are extremely helpful and often a prerequisite, I found that things really began to ‘click’ when I physically tested a transceiver or had to go through the process of setting something up. Going through that process made it obvious if there’s a gap in my knowledge; if I didn’t know how to do something or explain why something was happening, I knew there was more to learn.

In a non-technical mindset, I learned that the company culture and work environment have utmost importance in how effective and company or organization is. People enjoy doing their job much more when they enjoy the people they work with and the company, and Champion ONE does an excellent job at holding a good company culture.

Do you have any words of advice for future interns?

First, be honest with yourself about forming a realistic plan. I set rather ambitious deadlines for earlier projects because I did not account for changes of scope or pitfalls I encountered while working. Careful consideration expecting “worst case” scenarios helped me properly prepare my goals and complete them.

Second, embrace learning new things. I had zero business experience and no knowledge whatsoever about the fiber optic industry, so I had to immerse myself in the industry lingo and technology, as well as glean what I can from the business side of Champion ONE. Even after learning all the terminology and forming a good understanding of the technology, I found that there was always still something more to learn more about that could make whichever project I was working on better.

What’s next for you?

I will be continuing classes at Cleveland State University for my final semester in the spring. While finishing my last semester, I will be interning at the NASA Glenn Research Center working with CubeSat radios, developing the official documentation for the radio’s transmitter and receiver performance and waveform characteristics. After graduation, I am currently looking to pursue a master’s degree in Electrical Engineering with a focus on Telecommunications/Information Theory.

Interested in becoming a Champion? Check out our Careers page to see our current openings, across all departments and experience levels.

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