June 23, 2022
Bianca and Swati are Cosworth’s PDR (Performance Data Recorder) Validation Engineers. Their roles involve end to end unit and system level testing for the PDR programme, which is a software and hardware ecosystem developed for GM’s performance vehicles. Bianca and Swati manage software verification and validation tests performed on bench and in vehicle prior to software releases.
The testing identifies software and customer issues that are then reported to the development team. Bianca and Swati also try to find the root cause of the issues as well as feeding back highly detailed information found during testing, to the development team. Bianca has been with Cosworth for over a year and Swati has been with us just 6 months, which makes it all the more impressive that they are leading the validation testing.
Can you both tell us about your role?
“For the most part, we are testing or preparing for tests, whilst the development team is working on implementing different features on the software. During preparation we need to acquire as much information as we can, to establish the requirements from our customer, GM. This ensures that we have a full understanding of what the development team are required to implement and work on.
“Once we have the required information, we can start developing our test plans. We begin to hypothesise all of the possible scenarios on how the software or certain new features may be wrong. So, we are really thinking outside of the box, predicting how the end user will use the software and all of the potential results including failures.
“Once the software is released to us [the validation team], we begin our planned work and start testing. One area that is involved is at the infotainment level, meaning that we analyse the display, which is the main human interface for the software. We need to ensure that whatever is on the screen is displayed correctly, functions the way it was intended to. In order to do this, we are using different tools to simulate how the software will behave in the car.”
“My role at Cosworth is to validate PDR software. Even though I have worked in the Automotive industry for entire end-to-end vehicle validation, dealing with PDR ECUs can be challenging as the ECU has many differences in hardware and software.
“As suppliers, we get specifications from GM on how they want the PDR function to work. These requirements must be captured, broken down into test cases, and then developed into real-time test scenarios. This is a part of the PDR system’s end-to-end validation process. As we try to simulate real-world scenarios on our test benches, we validate any requirements using real-time hardware. If we receive defects from the OEM, we attempt to reproduce the issues on our test benches using Simulation Tools in order to fully understand the issue. When we are able to accurately replicate the bug, we investigate why it occurred and attempt to find a solution.”
What inspired you to get involved in engineering?
“Mainly because, even though engineering may seem like an exact science, it also gives you the opportunity to push boundaries and explore your imagination and creativity. I chose to get involved in the electronics side of engineering because it offers a wide range of opportunities, and it is used in almost everything nowadays.”
“I was always surrounded by engineering family members. My father was not an engineer, but he used to work in the engineering field, and I was very curious to know the details of what and how he did it. Then, as I grew up, I became so inspired, that I wanted to take up engineering and I wanted to enhance my problem-solving skills.
I used to take up challenges which pushed me to come out of my comfort zone and do something different. I know electronics are everywhere and electronics engineering is very versatile. If you pursue this area of engineering you can go into a variety of fields like aeronautics and aerospace, as well as automotive, defence, and the Internet of Things (IoT). So, I think if you’re an electronics engineer you can go almost everywhere.”
How did you get into engineering and then Cosworth?
“I have an older brother who is very much a role model to me and he’s in engineering. When I wanted to choose my university, I wasn’t sure which one to go for. So, my brother helped me with that. He came home one day with a booklet from his university, which was in engineering, and said, “Why not come to the open day?” So, I went and started speaking with people from different colleges. They presented a lot of interesting projects. So, I said “Yes, I want to be part of that.
“After university, I was offered a position in the automotive sector. I started out as a Diagnostics Engineer, working on electronic systems for a large OEM. There, I had to design and develop the software for the OEMs after-sales diagnostic tool and write technical documentation, that is used by dealership technicians to identify electrical or electronic issues. Another exciting part of the role was the validation of both the diagnostic software and the technical documentation, which led me to the role I am currently in here at Cosworth.”
As I was always surrounded by Engineer Family members, by the time I was finishing my High School I was quite aware of the changes Electronics was bringing to industry. Slowly I started taking more interest in Control Systems and made up my mind to pursue a degree in Electronics going ahead.
I worked as a Validation Engineer for a Japanese OEM, where I gained experience in all stages of the vehicle development cycle. Also gained valuable experience in automotive infotainment domain skills such as specification creation and validation, HMI, functional and system level testing and UDS protocols, DTC, CAN Tools and Infotainment software architecture understanding.
“I was able to get my role at Cosworth because of my Japanese OEM experience.” I moved to the United Kingdom with my husband in 2021 and applied for electronics jobs, and now I’m here.”
What challenges did you have to overcome in your career?
“When you first move into an engineering role after university, it’s a big change. You think you know a lot after completing your degree, but when you are actually facing the task, it’s not that easy. Also, what you learn in university is useful, however it’s not as straightforward as arriving in your new role and instantly applying it. There are a lot of things that you learn on the job during your time in the role. Additionally, if you change role, even though you’ve come with some experience in the same domain, it will not be directly applicable. Even with two automotive companies, both are building cars, but they are going to be different 90% of the time. They have different ways of working.
“An example of a challenge that comes to mind related to testing, is when your plan for the day doesn’t work. You had planned for a scenario to take a certain amount of time but it may happen that one little step in the test goes wrong and that ruins your schedule. It can expand sometimes from half an hour to two days trying to investigate to see where it went wrong and fix it. This is when you need to be proactive and focus on solving issues as effectively and efficiently as possible.”
“When I landed my first job, I was given the task of writing code in C Sharp and Java. At the time I couldn’t write anything in Java because Java is from the Computer Science industry, and I had completed my studies Electronics Engineering. So, this was a real challenge because the coding languages are different. Thankfully, I had an understanding of the basics and managed to write my own pieces of code.
“The basics of coding will always remain the same. So, you will know how your loops should work and how the control flow works. If you know these basics, you only need to know the syntax of any programming language and then life becomes easy.”
Another example of Validation is that we must ensure that all Functional, Regression, and Stress testing is completed on time, but if some steps go wrong, determining the root cause will take the majority of our time, and we will only have a limited amount of time to complete and submit validation results.
What excites you about your role?
“The first thing is that it keeps my mind busy all the time, because you always have to think outside the box and predict how the end user will operate the software and what could go wrong. You have to think about all of this when you’re writing your test plans. Also, I love the attention to detail that we need to give, it’s really impressive how errors that are barely noticeable are caught and reported by my colleagues and I, it’s a real challenge to ensure everything is running perfectly.
“The PDR software is produced by the development team, and we’re trying to make sure that we support them in delivering high quality software and minimise costs of product. At the end of the day, I am the one who delivers the software to the customer, and this is one of the things that I appreciate about my role because it gives me a sense of completion. We also have the opportunity to test the product directly in the cars which is amazing. The Cosworth team is exciting, and everyone is so warm and welcoming. The environment is great.”
“It’s great to be a supplier!” Previously, I was usually working with OEMs, where I learned a variety of end-to-end vehicle development processes. I’ve worked with suppliers before, and I’ve realised how vital and difficult supplier tasks are. I was astounded by how in-depth a supplier’s understanding of the issue was. I was really interested in learning how they handled all of their development systems, as I was always doing end-to-end testing. Working at Cosworth, on the other hand, allows you to learn the finer points of each and every piece, which is something that especially fascinates me. I’ve always wanted to work as a supplier, and Cosworth has given me the opportunity to do so.”
Together as women, you are solely managing the PDR validation programme. What does it feel like to do this in a male dominated industry?
“Exciting! PDR is such an amazing, cool project and I’m thrilled to be a part of it. I don’t feel any different from my other male colleagues and I’ve never been treated differently from my teammates. Additionally, I get great satisfaction knowing that I did a good job, and that I contributed to delivering some of the highest quality Cosworth products.”
Great!!! We get guidance not only from the PDR team, but also from various internal projects on occasion. People in our project are helpful but being one of just two women Engineer of the PDR team is incredible.
What would you say to women, or what do you think needs to be done to bring more women into the industry?
“I would say, have confidence in yourself. Once you know what you love, what your passion is, just go for it. Don’t listen to what anybody else has to say. When I chose the University to get into engineering, I did tell a friend at the time and their reaction was ‘Really? But this is too difficult for a woman, why would you do that?’ But that didn’t stop me. Instead, it actually gave me more power to push and continue and to prove that I can do it.”
“Motivation. Women must be inspired before they begin their education. Some women, I believe, are hesitant to enter this sector because they believe they will be asked, “Why do you want to come here?” by too many people. Isn’t it too intimidating? I believe some women are afraid of being intimidated. Don’t be afraid; there are so many distinct roles to choose from that you may easily see yourself in one of them. There are many Engineering women who can provide you with further information on how to get into engineering.
“I think women need to explore the field of engineering. If you’re interested and you want to get involved, you can do it despite what other people may question or say. Don’t get demotivated by minor setbacks that may come up. If you want to make it your choice, you will definitely become a successful engineer.”
OVERVIEW This is the second case study in our two-part, simulation series. This instalment covers the challenges and work we... MORE >
OVERVIEW Over the last two decades an increasing number of race teams have invested in using driver-in-loop simulation as a... MORE >
AMPLiFII came from the Office for Low Emissions Vehicles in 2017 and was granted £9.98 million of funding for the... MORE >
CAT GEN – FILLING THE VOID
We recognise the role we play in tackling current environmental issues; our work in delivering emissions compliant propulsion solutions... MORE >
DIABLO GUEST DAQ SYSTEM
In the majority of wind tunnel test facilities, you will find our Diablo software as the main SCADA... MORE >
MATERION MMC PISTIONS
The never-ending pursuit for performance and efficiency within the automotive industry necessitates... MORE >