Graduate success: Anurag Chand, FPGA Technical Lead at GE Aviation

Anurag Chand

‘I have been involved in developing a traffic advisory system for the Chinook Helicopters, power distribution system on Gulfstream and Boeing jets, Flight control system for COMAC jets and an open flight deck architecture development for the next gen aircrafts’

Anurag Chand, FPGA Technical Lead at GE Aviation, studied Computer Systems Engineering with Year in Industry and graduated in 2017. In this interview, Anurag shares some exciting projects he’s working on, and his advice for students looking to get into the industry.

How do you feel your time at Kent prepared you for working in the industry?
Studying at Kent provided me with all the necessary technical knowledge I needed to get started in industry. One of the key things that makes engineering a challenge is the ever changing nature of technology and the need to keep up to date with the changes that are occurring.

My time at Kent helped me get all the basic low level knowledge in embedded software, hardware, FPGA and VHDL as well as electronics design and systems approach that are heavily sought after in industry today. With this knowledge, I gained enormous confidence in being able to solve technical problems.

One of the other key areas that helped prepare me for my role was the push to work and collaborate in teams. This is something that every industry seeks and having had the opportunity to provide technical solutions in a team work environment in both my bachelors and masters years was invaluable.

What did you learn in your degree that has been beneficial to you in your role?
Throughout my degree, I acquired a large amount of technical knowledge in many different specialities such as PCB design, Embedded Software, Object Oriented Software, CAD design, Analogue and Digital Electronics. However, the most applicable to my role today is my introduction to VHDL and FPGAs.

Currently all industries are struggling to recruit engineers that are skilled in Digital Hardware Design and FPGAs which many of my colleagues from other universities have not had a chance to work on as hands on as I did during my time at Kent. This hands on experience working with VHDL and FPGAs as well as the classroom knowledge of the evolving technologies in that sector has given me all the tools I need to find success in my career.

My year in industry also helped me massively as it helped me change my behaviour and approach to problem solving. This is a good learning experience when you move into industry, and it made me much more efficient at being able to solve problem using a prescribed method.

What are your main responsibilities and tasks?
As an FPGA Technical leader my tasks vary immensely. Working in a process heavy industry such as Aviation means my key responsibilities are to provide technical and process oversight to my team on safety critical projects as well a plan and execute projects to the standards set by the FAA and EASA.

Alongside this working on technical plans, review of my teams output, customer support, audit support and problem solving issues using a prescribed Top Down approach are some of the key day to day activities I have to look after.

Outside of this, I also mentor young engineers that are interested in VHDL and FPGA development as well as volunteer in STEM activities outside of work to encourage young people to step into the world of engineering and science.

Are you working on any exciting projects that you can share?
Coming through the graduate pipeline I have been very fortunate to have been involved in multiple exciting projects in the software, hardware and systems domains. Previously I have been involved in developing a traffic advisory system for the Chinook Helicopters, power distribution system on Gulfstream and Boeing jets, Flight control system for COMAC jets and an open flight deck architecture development for the next gen aircrafts.

Currently however I am working on the CCS (Common Core System) on the new Boeing 777X aircraft. This system comprises of the entire computer network inside the aircraft and is used by all the systems, from cockpit displays, autopilot and flight functions to the inflight entertainment systems. Fortunately I have had the chance to be involved with the program at a project management stage as well as development and verification from an FPGA perspective.

What are your plans for the future?
I enjoy my role as a Technical Lead as I enjoy being involved with the technical aspect. Technical problem solving is something I have always liked and my current role gives me the chance to do this.

However, in the far away future I would like to move on to more Project/Program management and Engineering management with some technical input as I enjoy being part of the technical leadership team that provides technical and process oversight. So in the future I would still like to retain some of this.

What advice would you give to someone wanting to follow the same career path?
One of the biggest pieces of advice I wish someone would have given me when I was at university was “Gain as much background knowledge as you can and utilise the lecturers and others around you.” This is something that many take for granted while at university and having that solid foundation of technical knowledge will prove invaluable as you begin to start your journey in Engineering.

Another piece of advice I would like to share is to plan your future out, apply to as many industries as you can, stay up to date with developments happening in different industries, and take ownership of your own development. Don’t be afraid to ask questions if you are unsure. Be confident on where you want to get to and create your own plans that will lead you there and utilise all the wonderful support staff at Kent who can help you with these matters.

Finally, I would highly recommend any student who wants that outside perspective to do the Year in Industry program. Kent provides this wonderful opportunity and its paramount you seize it as it will improve you industry understanding and change your problem solving behaviours. Not to mention the boost it will give your CV.

What was your favourite memory from your time at Kent?
Something that I still cherish from my time at Kent was the diverse range of people I met. These included people I had met in my own department and the people I had met on campus in general through other societies. One of the best memories I had at Kent was being involved with the “Biggest Rocket ever Built” STEM initiative. I got to meet some wonderful people while being involved in this program as well as going into schools to promote engineering while standing next to a 8ft model of the Saturn V is still something I remember very well.

University can be a wonderful time to meet new people, learn new things and in general find yourself. We don’t tend to worry or think too much about our futures until we get towards the end. However, I would say prepare yourself early, sample as many things as possible and look to form a goal for yourselves. Your career is ultimately in your own hands and you will find many wonderful people at Kent and in Industry that are willing to help you meet those goals. You just have to ask!