Engineering Beyond the Cubicle: Are You Ready to Change the World?
Written by Bert Farabaugh
January 28, 2020
In my admittedly partisan view, engineering is one of the most rewarding careers to have. You get to design, integrate, test and deploy new systems and applications. What’s even more rewarding is when those systems actually enable and advance the betterment of all mankind. What I would like to do in this article is to introduce you to a different kind of engineering. But first, a few questions:
- Are you an engineer?
- Are you stuck in a cubicle, wanting to get out and experience different kinds of projects and applications?
- Have you ever considered making a change to the type of engineering work you do on a daily basis?
- Are you interested in the growing field of autonomous vehicles or the latest in medical devices, such as surgical robots? What about space robots?
- Would you like to be involved in the evolution of smart-grid energy distribution?
- Do you care about enabling the next generation of Industrial IoT applications to help solve some of the world's most challenging and pressing problems?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you may want to think about applying for a position on RTI's Field Applications Engineer (FAE) team. I think you'd be a great fit!
I’ve been an FAE at RTI since 2003. In this position, I have worked with the largest provider of hospital patient monitoring devices (GE Healthcare), the largest provider of mining equipment (Komatsu), several autonomous self-driving vehicle programs, and Lockheed Martin on the Aegis defense system for the US Navy. Over the years, I have learned that there are many challenging technical problems out in the world, and the solution to these problems involves enabling the proper connection of distributed network applications. The applications I mentioned above are great examples of where RTI’s software has enabled innovative new systems.
As an FAE, I have had the pleasure of working with many applications and customers – no two are the same! Just take a look through our Customer Snapshots and these blog posts to learn about the types of applications we work with. Let's just say, it's always exciting.
So what exactly does an FAE do?
FAEs do many different things (this is one of the best parts of the job!). During a new customer engagement or project, one of the first things we do is assess the networking and system requirements of their distributed application. To me, this is the part of the position I like the best. This is where I get to learn about all kinds of different applications and the problems they are working to solve. For a brief period, I get to be part of their development team. Then, if we can help them solve some of those problems, I get to help them understand our infrastructure, and show them how to get started on a path to a fully scalable, high performance solution.
In addition to working with customers, I also get to develop custom demonstrations and evangelize the value of a data-centric infrastructure by presenting at conferences and writing technical articles.
The Life of an FAE at RTI (according to our FAEs)
I have the pleasure of working with an incredibly talented FAE team. I'll introduce you to a few of them so you can hear their thoughts on being an FAE at RTI.
“I love the fact that our product is such a horizontal technology. In one 48-hour period, I was in a mine on top of an autonomous truck as big as my house, and at a NASA lab working with a team on flying drones. Tomorrow I’ll be on-site at a microgrid working to integrate renewable energy into the power grid. Most of my “typical” weeks are extraordinary. I can’t imagine another job where I’d be able to explore and participate in all of these cutting-edge technologies.”
- John Breitenbach, Regional FAE Manager (Mid-Atlantic US)
“We (FAEs) go in, understand the customer's problems, and help them by mapping those problems to DDS™ and RTI product features. If they need more help to achieve their goals, we do not let them down: our Services team steps in! All of this helps them succeed and turns what was discussed in their early meetings into reality. Lastly, we always go back when the customer is wrapping up the project, and they proudly share the final product. I love this, because you have this feeling of closure…seeing that you helped build something big.”
- Sara Granados, Lead FAE (Europe)
“Good people, good work and good benefits. RTI has a strong culture dedicated to customer success and works towards that goal as a cross-functional team. The variety of work is incredible, from working with engineers developing flying autonomous taxis to engineers building the next version of cancer radiotherapy machines. RTI also provides some of the best benefits in the industry, including the flexible hours needed to succeed as an FAE.”
- Hasnat Ashiq, Senior FAE (Northwest US)
“What I like most about being an FAE at RTI is that I’m provided with everything necessary to succeed. People at RTI do their jobs (quite well) and don’t need to tell me how to do my job. This is unlike every other job that I’ve had as an FAE or in engineering.”
- Patrick Keliher, Senior FAE (South Central US)
“Before I became an FAE, I was a software engineer working for a major A&D vendor on a long-deployed system. I spent years working on the same system in the same lab. It was easy to get burned out. Being an RTI FAE means that I get to see a variety of new and exciting programs and I know that no two days will be the same. I also get the benefit of seeing cool designs become reality and the knowledge that products that use my company’s technology change people’s lives for the better every day. I do not think that I could go back to being a straight software engineer after being an FAE.”
- Rob Proctor, Senior FAE (Southeast US)
“My role as an FAE at RTI has been both intense and rewarding. So far, I’ve spoken to customers using Connext DDS for everything from aircrafts to ships, and from audio equipment to racing cars. Every one of these applications has been a great opportunity for me to learn about cool customer technology, while expanding my knowledge of equally cool RTI technology (plus programming languages, open standards, networking technologies and so much more).
“Our customers push their own technical boundaries to create new, more advanced solutions, so we as FAEs need to push the boundaries of our own experience and knowledge to help them. And that’s what makes this job so much fun!”
- Paul TIngey, Senior FAE (Europe)
“What I like most about being an FAE is that you get to be an engineer some of the time working on demos or helping customers configure their systems, but you are not sitting in an office all the time. You can get out in the field and are able to talk to different people and get involved with a lot of really interesting projects. I also really like selling a good product, and I believe we have that with RTI’s product suite. The software is fun to demo, and it really works.”
- Dave Seltz, Regional FAE Manager, (Northeast US)
It’s All About the People
Hopefully this gives you a sense of what it’s like to be an FAE here at RTI. However, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention one of the top reasons that I have been here at RTI for 16 years. I know that people always say “I love the people that I work with!” – but for me, it’s actually very true. The culture that has been part of this company is the core fabric of why I wake up in the morning and when I start thinking about my day coming up at work, I smile.
Take a look at our Core Values and Beliefs statement from our website. I'll summarize it here:
- We realize the potential of our employees and our company.
- We provide extraordinary value to our customers.
- We run a profitable business with uncompromising ethics.
- We work as a team.
- We actively pursue excellence.
- We strive to make the world better.
When all the people around you believe in the journey, it makes a big difference. I can honestly tell you that all of these values are taken to heart every day, and it shows in the day-to-day work here at RTI.
If you are interested in a challenging FAE position and want to answer yes to all of those questions that started off this blog, then please head over to our Careers Page and apply now.
About the author:
Bert Farabaugh is the Field Applications Engineering Manager at RTI, and in addition has been working as an FAE covering the Northeastern US and strategic accounts. Since starting at RTI in 2003, Bert has expanded his expertise in real-time applications and distributed systems architecture design
Starting off in developing robotic systems for 12 years at a few defense contractors, Bert developed a strong understanding of what it takes to create a real-time system. From 1998 through 2003, he further expanded his knowledge of real-time applications by working for Wind River, a leading provider of real-time operating systems. Bert holds a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from The University of Pittsburgh.