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10 skills embedded engineers need to acquire

10 Feb 2015  | Karen Field

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6. Know your software well but always tinker with the newest processors.

It is good to know a few languages; some people recommend learning one new language a year. However, while pure software engineers need to learn languages to fit specific needs, embedded engineers need to learn chips. A deep understanding of C or C++ is critical, but the newest trendy language is not as important as the newest, trendy processor technology.

It's important to know about processors; that's just the nature of embedded. Because we have resource-limited systems, we need to understand those resources we have available. A new and nifty language like Go might be incredibly powerful, but it's very likely that it doesn't run in our resource-limited environment.

In the end, you should acquire lots of shallow breadth and a few areas of deep depth. Keeping current is important but learning all you can about a few areas makes you an expert.

Source: Elecia White

Title & Company: Embedded Software Engineer,

What I do: I have been an embedded software engineer for over 15 years. I did normal (server) software before. I've done some management over the years but I enjoy the hands-on technical aspects more.

7. Get comfortable with open source software.

There are literally thousands of software packages that customers want integrated into their systems, so this is an area where all embedded engineers need to feel comfortable.

I would also stress that you should avoid pigeonholing yourself into one area, as the skills you have will almost inevitably become obsolete and/or prevent growth.

And make sure that you understand both hardware and software; engineers who know both are the most valuable.

Source: Rob Oshana

Title & Company: Distinguished Member of Technical Staff and Director of Global Software R&D for Digital Networking, Freescale Semiconductor

What I do: I have been an engineer for 31 years. I was educated as an EE, but I have been doing software engineering most of my career.

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