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    Default Re: My pursuits - The prequel


    My Story


    I am a south indian thenkalai iyengar brahmin. I was brought up in the warmth of near and dear from all of my extended family. I had decent schooling, did well in my education. Scored top 95% in All india level in English in my Xth Std. I also got nominated to stand in the school pupil leader elections, became a house captain and also led my house (Brilliance) to 2nd place in overall points for the year to lift the cup for the 2nd place in the year 1996. In the midst of hormones, teenage and fights with my parents I got only 80% in my XII std exams. So I got only a payment seat in a college far away from Chennai. I still performed decently in college and everyone liked me. All through I was devout and firmly believed in god who I called perumal. I had quite a few muslim and christian friends but was never worried about caste issues or problems in my youth.

    After I finished my BE (ECE), I wanted to become a fighter pilot and wrote the All India Civil Services exam for defense which was the CDS exams three times. I passed in all attempts but was never shortlisted at the end of the 5 day selection process at the air force camps. In those days, Information Technology was just starting to take root and jobs were still a bit hard to come by. I tried my hand at door to door sales, software sales and also working in a Antenna manufacturing company without a salary. I also took up an entrepreneurship class which was free of charge and a embedded systems programming class where I got a 70% scholarship based on an entrance test they had conducted. Around this time, my niece gently introduced to my mother to the idea that I was only good at reading and so should try to do MS degree. That eventually forced me to write GRE and TOEFL and apply for US universities. I got top 98% marks in my GRE and TOEFL and was also gifted with a scholarship from a university in the US.

    I left for the US in September 2002. I was probably the only guy who cried when his Jet airways flight to the US took off. I had really wanted to be a fighter pilot, I had been too damn patriotic and had wanted to be part of the defense forces. And instead of sitting in the cockpit, I was sitting in the passenger seat. I did not want to go to the US. But there I was on my way out of the country I loved.

    Things did not go so well in the university for me. What immediately struck me was that the classes had no windows and when the classes started, all the lights were switched off so the presentation could be visible. The drone of the professors language and the dimly lit classes always put me to sleep. It was incredibly hard to concentrate. I barely passed in my subjects. To top it, I also got distracted. Unlike colleges in India, US universities had a lot to offer.. they had gyms, swimming pools, sports teams, and such.. I really wanted to try my hand at sports and signed up for the rowing team. That started a enjoyable period of my life, we trained everyday for two hours and took to rowing in the river and also travelled to surrounding universities on road trips to participate in boat races. But this also affected my performance in my studies and I totally lost sight of the need to do a thesis. I only realised my folly when my friends started on their thesis and also started to get jobs. At this point, I turned my focus around back to studies and did my thesis on patch antennas. I did it sincerely and submitted it to be published online in the university catalogue. At that time, I did not realise that my work was good enough to attract a german publisher. In 2011, approximately 6 years after my thesis, I had completely left the antenna field and was into embedded systems. So when I was offered the chance to publish my thesis as a book at no cost to me in exchange for its copyright, I happily signed on the dotted line. The book is now available on Amazon.com as of Feb 2011. The title of the book is "Mutual Coupling in Patch Antennas".

    In the midst of all this, I also had time to fall for a girl of ebullious beauty. Now, having been in a sports team, that too water sports, where girls usually do not come attired in the traditionally demure saree and bindhi, I had the opportunity to come upon a few of the better female specimens. But sanja (pronounced sanya) was special. She with her gap in her front teeth could possibly have no match except maybe for keisha grey whose face looks vaguely similar. Oops. But yes, I did not fall from the skies. I was/am just another guy with his fair share of testosterone driven thoughts. Unfortunately when I did gather up my courage to go and profess my love to her, the most unexpected thing happened. I remember it like it was yesterday. That day evening, she was having a run in the football ground and I just walked up to the side of the tracks and hailed her.. 'Hi Sanja'. She stopped, smiled and walked towards me. With a straight face and clear voice I told her ' I wanted to see if I can ask you out sanja. Would you like to go somewhere tomorrow evening?' To my utter surprise, her eyes widened for a slight bit and she started laughing. I did not quite know how to react. She was clearly laughing but she was not laughing at me. it seemed more like I was expected to laugh too but did not get the joke. I waited for her to calm down a bit, which she did and with glittering eyes she said.. "I am flattered krishna.. I really am. But I have other men in my life and I dont want to confuse our relationship and theirs" For some completely unknown reason, that reply did not hurt me, I did not feel any pang of great pain like the heros in our tamil movies seemingly experience. Instead, I surprised myself as I continued in the same clear voice.. " Its ok sanja. I had always liked you and I did not want it to be that I never took a step forward for you. I will see you around.." and I started walking away down the track. As I started to walk away, I noticed she was starting to enter another bout of mirth through the corner of my eye. So I looked straight ahead and started to walk. Within a few steps, I noticed another girl walking towards me with this biiig smile on her face. Her eyes were rapidly switching between looking at me and looking at sanja. She obviously derived quite a sumptuous amount of happiness from whatever she thought had just transpired between me and sanja. I could not understand the reactions of both sanja and that girl. But that was the last time I saw sanja.

    After graduating, I knew that getting a job was going to be tough so I took the next flight to california where my undergrad college friend had joined a software consultancy and was now successful at his work in the software industry. I too joined the software consultancy and studied Siebel CRM and Siebel Analytics. I was also looking out for a full time job in the engineering arena at this time.

    I met Adam in one of the Job fairs that was held at San Jose. He was the engineering manager at a probe card company based out of Livermore and he suggested I apply on the company website. I did so and was duely invited for an interview. After I was selected as a project leader in my first job out of college, I worked hard to impress one and all at work. Eventually I made my presence felt in the design team as an intelligent Project Leader. There were only 4 other people in my position in the company and we basically were the lynch pin of the entire design of probe cards - being responsible for everything from the initial feasibility analysis to see if the company can build the card to creating design files once the customer request comes in to getting all the approvals from all the departments to monitoring the progress of the design through all the departments and finally providing test instructions to the test team. Before the end of the year, I had made a name for myself as intelligent and hardworking. Unfortunately for me there was an incident 6 months into my working as a Project Leader when I made a silly but serious mistake of forgetting to connect the ground to the appropriate PCB layers. This resulted in the probe card being manufactured and delivered to the customer and it was only found at the customer site that the card was not working. This resulted in me being put on a 3 month performance improvement plan.

    I must say that I ended up surprising myself and also all around me when before the end of the 3 month period, I had completed all the assigned design studies and we had basically run of work to allot to me. At this time, I was alloted work to study why some of the designs failed - something which was usually the R&D's cup of tea and not the work of production team. After the performance improvement was done and dusted, I was encouraged to take up designs which were based on the latest technology that the company R&D was trying to push into the production environment. At first, it was just like any other design.. just that it was slightly more complex to fit all the requirements into the chipset area. But when I finished it, almost everyone acknowledged that it was quite a piece of work. It seems it was the first design solution that we had been able to create for texas instruments. All previous attempts at providing a solution to them had failed. I was quite happy and continued with my work. After about 4-6 weeks, the bomb dropped.

    At first, there was an email from the test team that one of the pins seemed to be too close to violating design requirements when physically inspected through a microscope. There was a picture attached. I did not know why I was copied on the mail and so ignored it. The next day there was a bunch of replies to the email with the final one being from the R&D department mentioning that there was indeed a design violation and that this was not approved by them. After a few more emails, someone wrote in bold capital letters my name and said that I was the project leader for the design. I was totally shocked and looked at the design which was being discussed. It was the texas instruments design that I had been responsible and praised for. Immediately I took up the design files and all the approvals from R&D, electrical, mechanical and testing groups. On verifying that all was as things should be, I bluntly replied that it was not a design problem. After a small flurry of emails, the R&D department again sent an email with two pictures of what was approved by them and what was designed in real time. It was for sure shockingly different. I immediately pulled out all the design files and started going over them. Thats when I realised that the design that I had completed and got approved was not the one which was sent for production.

    In the ensuing fear, confusion and surprise I suddenly remembered how my co-worker had informed me with a non-chalant, cheerful smile that I had missed a feature called ABF in one of my designs and that she had added it when reviewing the design. (All designs were reviewed by a co-project leader). Now this ABF feature did not affect the functionality of the probe card at all, its only use was to point out which was the top end of the card because once the cards were used for sometime, it would eventually become difficult to recognize which side was up and which side was down. But when this ABF was added, it immediately violated the distance requirement between pins by a good 5 nanometers. This would have caused the pins to eventually brush against it and fail when put to work. Although it was a bit of a relief that I can fall back on emails noting that my design was actually approved and the ABF was added later, I could not actually put this down in an email. That would have meant pointing the finger at my colleague who had only meant to help. So as the issue escalated and more and more senior members were added onto the email chain, I feverishly tried to work out a solution. By the time I had worked out a solution, the senior management was already watching the progress simply because it was the first design to TI using our company's latest T3 technology. I quickly drew up pictures and steps to take to help correct the parts that were already at the end of production, at the start of production and those that were currently being manufactured off-site at our partner concerns. I provided 3 possible solutions.

    Before I understood what was happening, I ended up in a meeting discussing what to do with the different parts in different stages of production and manufacturing. I was all of one year old in the company and was a bit overrawed by having the management as part of my meeting. I just blustered my way through it before finally accepting I was not upto it. I therefore requested one of the program managers to handle it and left the room.

    After sufficiently satisfying myself that I have done all that I could, I reclined in the heated seats of my cadillac. Sat there for a bit before driving off to the perumal temple in livermore where I always spent my evenings. When I came back to work the next day everyone congrajulated me.

    Suddenly.. I was a star.

    And that.. was the exact point in time when the world around me started to fall apart.

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    Last edited by www.pvkrishnan.com; 10-02-2020 at 09:05 AM.

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