Designing The Brains Of A Hard Disk Drive – IC Design
For Ashwini Wali, being passionate about electronics and the desire to understand the intricacies of an integrated circuit led her to pursue a Master of Science in Integrated Circuit Design at TUM Asia. After graduating, she joined Marvell Asia Pte. Ltd. as an Analog Integrated Circuit Design Engineer, working on the design of preamplifier chips, which are the brains of a hard disk drive.
Hi Ashwini, could you give us a short introduction about yourself?
Ashwini: My native hometown is a small town in the southern part of India. I moved to Singapore about three years ago and I enjoyed living here till today. I am currently an Analog Design Engineer employed with Marvell Asia Pte. Ltd.
How did your interest in electronics and integrated circuit design first begin?
Ashwini: When I was younger, I have always wondered about the working mechanism of things around me, which naturally drew my attention towards science. Coming from a small town with limited educational resources, pursuing a higher education was not a popular option. My determination to explore further drove me to pursue my bachelor’s degree in Electrical and Electronics Engineering at a private engineering college in Dharwad, India. My four years stint with engineering was an amazing journey for me, where I had an opportunity to learn basic disciplines that helped me understand the emerging new technologies like Artificial Neural Network, Nanotechnology and Photonics. But what really stood out to me was the breakthrough in semiconductors – which was why I decided to enroll into TUM Asia’s Master of Science in Integrated Circuit Design programme.
Tell us more about your role at Marvell.
Ashwini: Marvell is a leading provider of innovative storage technologies – hard disk drive (HDD) is one of them. HDD have an embedded analog – mixed signal preamplifier chip which acts as the brain, and I am a part of Analog Design team at Marvell that designs these preamplifier chips.
With all the latest developments in technology, it is a great time to be in STEM because the industries are expanding and changing so quickly that there are a lot of opportunities for new graduates.
What do you enjoy about being a Design Engineer?
Ashwini: Being a design engineer has given me the advantage of having a better understanding of the product that I am working on, from device specification, design concepts, to device manufacturing. Having a thorough knowledge always boosts my confidence.
How do you think you have grown as an individual since graduating from your Master studies?
Ashwini: The self-confidence that I gained during my Master’s has helped me to improve my interpersonal skills. From an introvert girl hailing from a small town, I have grown to become a more confident, pragmatic and responsible person.
Were there any barriers or obstacles you had to overcome when you first entered your new job?
Ashwini: During my Master’s studies, I took up an internship role at Intel Mobile Communications which gave me exposure to working on real-time projects. The experiences gained were helpful when I first joined Marvell. At first, it took time to connect the dots between what I studied and the technical concepts of my project work. But with time, I was able to keep pace with the project concepts – though I still have a long way go.
The self-confidence that I gained during my Master’s has helped me to improve my interpersonal skills. From an introvert girl hailing from a small town, I have grown to become a more confident, pragmatic and responsible person.
What would you consider your greatest achievement in your career so far?
Ashwini: I believe I still have a lot to achieve in my career, but I do consider working my career journey as one my greatest accomplishments. I started as an Automatic Test Equipment (ATE) Test Engineer, then as a Radio Frequency (RF) Validation Engineer and now an Analog Design Engineer. Accomplishing this in a new environment and new country has also opened my eyes to new possibilities. The opportunities presented in each of these roles were all part of the learning process that helped me deepen my knowledge of engineering concepts.
Any advice for female engineers who are considering entering the STEM industry?
Ashwini: I would say, be open to learning new skills, always be self-driven and self-motivated. With all the latest developments in technology, it is a great time to be in STEM because the industries are expanding and changing so quickly that there are a lot of opportunities for new graduates. Build an early interest in technology during college days and keep yourself updated in the field of technology that you are interested in.
Ashwini Wali was from the NTU-TUM Master of Science in Integrated Circuit Design Programme. More information about the programme here >>
This interview was published in the DIGEST May – August 2019 issue >>