Test Engineer Celebrates 25 Years at Maxim
August 29, 2017
|By: Lynn Osborne
Director, Employee Communications, Maxim Integrated
Noel Subala, director of test systems development at Maxim, recently celebrated his 25th anniversary with the company. To commemorate this milestone, we asked him about his journey at Maxim so far. Listen in.
What was your first job here?
Fresh out of school, I was hired as an AMTS into Test Systems Development. My first business cards plainly said, "Member of Technical Staff" and didn't say much else, but I was pretty happy with that.
What made you join Maxim 25 years ago?
In short, the people, the connected atmosphere, and Maxim's principles.
The long story: I was fortunate enough to have participated in a work experience program during eighth grade at the Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division in Point Mugu, California. I shadowed the team that supported the large aircraft used for airborne threat simulation for four hours a day. For a nerdy eighth grader, I couldn't imagine any job being any cooler than getting to be near jet fighters every day of school.
That was my first real job exposure, and it was inspiring to be around the technology that made world-class air defense and precision strike equipment possible. So when I graduated from college, I was looking to get a job at one of the several large aerospace and defense companies in the Los Angeles area.
Anxious about making a good first impression in job interviews as a first timer to the job market, I wanted to practice first with an expendable job interview where I wouldn't worry about making mistakes. During the student bidding process for job interviews at our school, I noted one unfamiliar company that did not seem to be getting much attention, so I bid a few points to see if I could land an interview for practice. That one turned out to be Maxim, and my on-campus interview with Maxim was my first real job interview. One by one I worked through the rest of the interviews. One thing was clear to me after all the onsite interviews: Maxim stood out as having the feeling of being the most productive work environment with the most engaging professionals who openly displayed and practiced a unifying set of practical group principles for success. No jet fighters or missiles were anywhere to be seen, but "Maxim = Dynamic + Engaging + Challenging + Exciting" was far better.
Which roles have you had over the past 25 years?
As a fresh college graduate, I started as an AMTS in Test Engineering in Sunnyvale and have worked continuously in this function since. For the first six years, I worked at (previous) headquarters in Sunnyvale. One day, while sitting in the hardware lab waiting for our tech to complete a modification on my test hardware, my manager roamed in and started a casual conversation about engineering in the Philippines. He shared thoughts about establishing a test engineering team offshore to provide development level support on-site. He casually asked me what I thought. Worried about my time on the test equipment running out, I mindlessly said it sounded like a good idea. What happened next was a blur. Almost 20 years later, I am still excited to be working with our team in the Philippines. Along with our team in Thailand, they are the best group of engineers I think anyone could find assembled in either of those countries.
Which professional accomplishments are you most proud of?
Getting to be a final test engineer and work with Tunç Doluca (now CEO) on the first couple of parts Maxim did for notebooks (the MAX782 and MAX786—the industry's first high-integration notebook power-supply ICs) was a great initiation into doing new product test development.
As a junior engineer, I didn't know a whole lot when I started on the MAX782 project, let alone the intricacies of the new product test development process. The first and only thing I received was a printout of what looked like a bunch of random parameters and limits and not much anything else. I remember staring at it and wondering what I was supposed to do with it. There was no part description nor any block diagrams. When I asked for guidance, my boss told me to ask Tunç for a block diagram. When I did, Tunç told me he didn't really have anything else that would be useful for me, and the best thing to do was just ask him questions. So I did, and that turned out to be an extraordinary learning experience unlike any I had before or since.
Founding the Test Development teams in the Philippines and Thailand locations has been my most satisfying achievement. To find the best talent back then, my colleague and I traveled all over the Philippines, lugging around a huge, white, padded transport case that required two people to carry. You could spot it from a mile away; it held one of the only two projectors Maxim had in the Philippines at that time. Recruiting was quite the challenge because no one knew who Maxim was. I started the team with four young engineers eager to change the world. We borrowed bench space in the hardware lab as a makeshift office. Almost 20 years later, and under our managing director’s leadership, the teams at both sites now have grown to over 140 combined.
What was your best day at Maxim?
If I had to choose one, then I'd have to say it was the day I walked up to the dispatch window and came eye to eye with the person who would eventually become my best friend, my greatest supporter, and my better half.
What do you like best about our culture?
The give-your-all, unselfish support that I have enjoyed throughout my career at Maxim has always shined the brightest for me. From day one, I readily saw how everyone on our team boosted each other's confidence to go above and beyond, and that defined the blueprint I use with my teams today.