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    Posted November 5, 2012 by
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    I am a Chip Design Verification Engineer and I am proud of it


    I am a Chip Design Verification Engineer and I am proud of it
    - By Sunil Kakkar       


    Follow me at https://twitter.com/weverifyit


    Friday September 21 2012, it was a sunny morning in Silicon Valley and people from all walks of life woke up and reached out for the morning newspaper. The techies glanced over the front page headlines and proceeded to the business section, hoping to get their daily dose of news on the bay area companies and hopefully, a stock tip. They got what they were looking for, but what caught their attention was the picture of a high schooler, with the caption – “BRIDGING THE GAP”, on the front page. The feature has a headline "Young blogger helps unite generations of engineers, challenges public perception of people in profession".


    The feature has been authored by Mike Cassidy, so the question of ignoring it did not arise. Over the next few minutes, they learned more about a teenager who was trying to find a footing in the hi tech world. Shachi Nandan Kakkar, a Cupertino High School senior, was attempting to relate what he had learned or what he knows, to what he cautiously wanted to do in College – study engineering. In trying to find answers for himself, he had answered some tough questions though, questions which the valley engineers had been struggling to answer for a while. Is engineering too geeky? Is it fun? Is it rewarding? Do they fulfill a critical need? His blogs delicately indicate that engineering is as much fun and challenge as other fields, provided that the passion burns in you and there is a desire to excel. There was an icing on the cake for design verification engineers. The online version of the feature has a title “Cassidy: Don't tell teenager Shachi Kakkar that chip verification is for nerds”.
    That was like cool breeze on a sultry afternoon. As we grow up, we look up to youngsters for everything fashionable and what they do is considered hep. Suddenly, chip design verification did not appear that boring after all. Brian Bailey, previously chief technologist for verification at Mentor Graphics and now an independent consultant, recommended the feature on his EDN best of the web, for the week:
    He remarked “This is such a delightful story and an inspiration to many.”
    Before long, favorable reaction was beginning to come in. One comment read “See, being an engineer it's not all that nerdy. Just to have an open mind. Who knows, you can become one too..”. The school principal, Kami Tomberlain commented too ”At Cupertino High School, we are very proud of Shachi's creativity, clarity, and ingenuity. What an inspiring story.”


    Shachi must have tried to put the feedback in perspective. According to Suzanne Deffree, EDN's online managing editor “When I came across this young man who so absolutely gets it, he gets what an engineer is about, he has that excitement, when we find that, we want to celebrate that, and we want to connect the established generation with the younger generation." What started as a quest, for search for his relevance to engineering, had served as a means to the answer. Through his blogs, Shachi has been attempting to relate what he understands well - the world of drama, chess, basketball and even Olympics, his experience as a FBLA state level winner and as a DECA officer, to the achievements of a successful electronics engineer. Now, veteran engineers are coming back a full circle and comparing their engineering world to these fields and trying to draw parallels. Reality of their engineering profession and nostalgic recollections of these fun filled activities seem to be convergng towards a common goal of taking pride in their achievments and having a good time.

    Gabe Moretti even dwelled on the technical aspects of comparing drama with verification:


    Veteran enginners were becoming nostalgic about their school and college days.Tom Fitzpatrick – A Verification Evangelist commented “As a former “theater guy” I really appreciate your approach. … Just as two actors can memorize the same script and deliver two very different performances, so can two verification engineers look at the same spec and achieve different results. The key is to draw from your experience and use your insight to get the best performance.”

    Seasoned veterans like Tom Anderson, VP of Marketing, Breker Verification Systems drew a parallel with their jobs  "Shachi, I agree with the previous comments that you have found a valid analogy to link the seemingly disparate worlds of theater and hardware verification. One of the hardest things for those of us in technology is explaining what we do to non-engineers. By using a non-technical analogy, your post illuminates the role of a verification engineer. I’ll propose that final hardware-co-software verification is the “dry run” in that it’s the point at which everything comes together. Tweaks can be made at that point, but it’s too late to make major changes without delaying the “opening.” Thanks for your thoughts!"


    Is engineering as exciting and as much fun as theater? Will Cummings said: "Shachi – I think that your thoughts on the relation of theater to the world of hardware verification engineering were brilliant.  . .. You make me hopeful for the future."


    Rakesh Jain, a renowned agriculture expert, said: "Shachi, I agree with Will, I liked your writing on the relationship of theater to the world of hardware verification engineering. We often hear that fine arts and physical sciences, such as computer engineering, come from two opposite sides of the spectrum of human thinking and that there is little in common between them. However, to be successful in either field, we have to recognize that there is a method or a sequence of events that needs to be followed to transform a raw idea into a finished product, whether it is a performance in a theater or computer hardware design verification..."


    The evening of September 21st, engineers and especially verification engineers were heading home, looking forward to a relaxing weekend. But, they somehow appeared more confident and poised.


    Recently, SiliconIndia, a major producer of technology news, introduced a feature on Shachi with the following headlines – “Blogs by a 17 Year Old Inspires Veteran Engineers”


    Techonline India, a UBM publication, also introduced Shachi's blogs as a guest blogger, on their front page


    As for myself, I have always been fond of acting in a drama.


    Shachi’s regular EDN blogs can be read at:



    (Sunil Kakkar is the President and Chief Architect of SKAK INC.,a chip design and verification company, he founded to provide customized efficient solutions to ensure 100% fully functional first silicon.)

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