Meet Our People: Tom, Chief Software Engineer in Bristol, UK
“Thanks to sound processes, an environment of self-driven learning and the support and drive of everyone on the team, we got through.”
Tom Lucas joined Zuken in 1997 and has been challenged in a variety of roles and rewarded with promotion opportunity. Today he is part of a small but mighty team of three specializing in PCB routing research, and is based in the Zuken Technology Centre in Bristol, UK.
I started working for Zuken as a Leading Software Engineer, having previously worked in systems support, as part of electronic design related research, at Aberystwyth University. I was attracted to the role because I wanted to develop a career in programming.
There are career progression opportunities available to everyone
My role has certainly changed over the years; from Leading Software Engineer to Chief Software Engineer, and everything in-between. I began working in the Visula Layout development team between 1997 and 2002, before transferring to work in the HotStage (now Lightning) development team (2002 to 2012). From there, I joined the routing technology development team (2012-2018) and I’m now in the Routing Technology Research Team. From a tool feature perspective, I’ve worked on functions for schematic entry and editing, PCB layout, design rule checking, constraint management and high-speed design and routing technologies, with performance improvements common throughout.
I’m surrounded by a great support network
One of my biggest challenges to date has been the multi-board project I worked on in the earlier days of my career, as Senior Software Engineer in the Lightning team. There was a high volume of work involved, but thanks to sound processes, an environment conducive for self-driven learning and the support and drive of everyone on the team we got through. Moreover, the processes, the practices and the support of others continue to be part of Zuken’s make-up.
One of my most memorable projects involved a completely new application.
This was a standalone project and I was starting from scratch and using tools I’d never used before. I’d been used to working on improving existing products, so this was brand new to me. The project was assisted by other developers in programming, but I had a much more hands-on approach and the freedom to enhance my skills.
My role may be Chief Software Engineer, but I’m still learning something new and interesting every day.
I’m currently in a supporting role within the routing technology research team, and this also involves some elements of Machine Learning. This is a new area for me – it’s very interesting and mathematical and I’m enjoying the fact that it’s on the cutting edge of research. I’m learning lots all the time.
Times have changed but, socially, we haven’t changed our tune.
In my early days, I was in a Zuken band. There were enough musicians at the time to form one for work parties and social gatherings. I remember one year, I was dressed in a Borg costume (from Star Trek), up on stage playing bass guitar. The band is no longer, but the entertainment continues through Zuken’s sports and social club. An event I’ve never missed is the Bristol office annual Christmas Challenge. It involves forming into teams and setting three-minute challenges – some of them quite mentally taxing. It’s great fun. I’ll also never forget competing against a Territorial Army team in a Dragon Boat Race. There’s always a variety of events on the calendar, from curry nights to trips to the theater and more.