Jay Ferchoff, Technology Specialist, MTS Allstream
As we continue to celebrate Engineers Week, we took some time to interview Jay Ferchoff, Technology Specialist at MTS Allstream, a telecommunications carrier in the Canadian province of Manitoba, about his inspiration to become an engineer and how he collaborates with ARRIS to solve industry challenges. Take a read below.
What inspired you to become an engineer?
My father is an engineer, and I always enjoyed hearing about the challenging and engaging projects on which he worked. It was easy to tell that he found his job thoroughly enjoyable, and he would often talk about how rewarding it was to see a project go from conception all the way to implementation. My older brother is also an engineer, and I was always interested to hear about his university lab projects while I was in high school. I guess you could say that engineering is the family business, but it didn't hurt that I enjoyed math, physics, and computer science in school, and I knew I wanted to pursue a career related to those fields.
What does a day in the life of an engineer at MTS look like?
Engineers at MTS work on a very wide breadth of projects due to the complexity of our network. Engineers can, among other things, design configuration for core networking equipment, develop and test firmware for modems and TV set-top boxes, or build large-scale systems to automatically manage and collect data from our networks. Engineers working on these projects at MTS operate in large project teams. This allows for day-to-day collaboration with engineers working on other areas of the network to ensure that all of their solutions can operate together harmoniously, as well as collaboration with other departments in the company such as the operational staff that will support the solutions after they have been implemented.
How do you collaborate with ARRIS engineers to solve industry challenges
Collaboration between ARRIS and MTS engineers is valuable, because we each provide a different perspective on the industry. ARRIS can provide MTS with information on how other telecom companies are using their products and solutions, and therefore make valuable suggestions and recommendations to MTS. In turn, MTS can provide information to ARRIS on what impact their solutions ultimately have on the end consumers of telecom services and how ARRIS's solutions could be modified and improved based upon these impacts. We've utilized this approach with many ARRIS solutions in the past in order to maximize the quality of service that we at MTS ultimately deliver to our customers.
What are the most common challenges that engineers in our industry face?
One of the most common challenges is striking a balance between keeping up with rapid changes in technology and ensuring that sufficient time and effort are dedicated to launching a quality product or service. There is often pressure to release products quickly because of a relatively short time to obsolescence, and also because of heavy competition in the industry, so engineers must be able to walk the line between over-testing/over-engineering and rushing products to market before they're ready.
What is one piece of advice you wish someone told you when you were pursuing a career in engineering?
Understanding the business and financial aspects of engineering projects is just as important as understanding the technical aspects. You need to be able to approach the work from all perspectives without having tunnel vision toward the technical side of things if you want to be a successful engineer and an effective team member.