National Engineers Week takes place this year from February 27th until March 5th. The week-long festival of nationwide events, of which Intel is a proud supporter, celebrates the world of engineering. 63% of all Intel employees are engineers and to coincide with Engineers Week, Intel Ireland will share our #HowIBecameanEngineer series. The series shares an insight into the many different and diverse pathways that can lead to a career in engineering. Next in the series is Mike Nolan, a Software Modelling Manager in the Internet of Things Group, who shares an insight into how he became an engineer.
Can you share a brief description of what your job today at Intel involves?
Number one job by a long distance is the development of our engineering talent! If our engineers are continually improving their soft skills and technical skills, then everything else takes care of itself. We do this by putting job satisfaction as the goal of cross-project quality activities such as dev ops and validation. Our engineers love to do all these things, they get frustrated when processes and barriers prevent them achieving their goals and it is our role to make sure they have the space, time and tools to make it happen.
Can you share some details about your academic studies?
From 1995-1999 I completed a 1st class honours degree from University of Limerick in IT and Telecommunications. The internet was just taking off – Google, Facebook, Amazon, Twitter, YouTube, cloud computing, smartphones, etc, etc did not exist or were unheard of at the time. In 2014 I went back to do a Masters in Computer Science in UCD to learn about AI, recommender systems, android, machine learning.
Did you have any practical work experience that led you to Intel?
I am from the country, I had a few jobs locally working on farms and as a forecourt attendant. My first practical work experience was actually as an intern in Intel in 1998, I worked in an on-site call centre providing IT support for staff onsite. It was scary work as it was so different to my life experience at the time, but also very exciting to get a first taste of working in the technology sector.
Did you undertake part time work that influenced your career path?
Yes, my afore-mentioned internship in Intel. When I completed college, I applied for several roles, one was a research job in UL, a few others were software development in Microsoft, HP and AIB, but Intel was my first choice and I was delighted to be able to return.
Tell us about some of the experience you gained at Intel?
I have had a very untypical journey in my time at Intel. I spent my first 10 years in data centre operations supporting the fabs in Leixlip. In that role I got to design and fit out new data centres in Ireland and in Arizona, I travelled a lot to the USA to learn about rolling out new factory infrastructure at scale and I used to run shutdowns on the Ireland site where we took the fab down for extended periods to carry out application and infrastructure upgrades in the data centre. My interest in cloud computing grew and as a result I joined Intel IT’s innovation centre which was to later become part of Intel Labs. This was a highly formative part of my career. I worked on many EU funded research projects with external universities and companies across Europe, I published peer reviewed papers at internal and external conferences, and filed dozens of patents. I worked on many technology transfers to Intel business groups and I was the cloud architect for Atlantic Bridge which was IoTGs first reference architecture (IoTG was brand new and we were their first port of call when setting up). I also completed a masters in that time.
My technology interests moved increasingly from cloud to the edge and I completed that transition by taking a role as a Software modelling developer in Movidius about two years ago, becoming a people manager a few months ago. In 2017 my research into long term retention of born digital records was externally recognised when I received a Ministerial appointment to the National Archives Advisory Council (NAAC). The NAAC is a body established under the 1984 National Archive act to advise on matters of public interest relating to the preservation of records of state, for example records documenting the Irish Government response to events such as the troubles in Northern Ireland, the 2008 financial crash, the mother and babies homes commission and our COVID-19 response so that future policy makers and historians can study and learn from the past.
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