Our Principal Software Engineer, Mauricio Varea, is part of the software team making sure Fluidic Analytics instruments run smoothly and have an intuitive and helpful user interface.
We asked him about his career leading up to this role, his typical day, and how working at big and small companies compares.
Mauricio, tell us how you got started in software – what did you study at university?
Actually my first degree was in electronics, in Argentina. It was only when I did my PhD at the University of Southampton in the UK that I got started in software professionally. Before this it had just been a hobby.
My PhD was in electronics and computer science, looking at hardware/software codesign – a method where both sides are developed together to streamline product development.
After this I began a PostDoc position purely in computer science – this was based on ubiquitous systems, basically the first steps towards the personal devices we see everywhere today.
So after moving into software, how did you make the move from academia into industry?
First I took a position with a small company in Southampton, around 20 people, developing tools for electronic design automation. After 1 year there, I moved up to Cambridge and joined another small company who made software for MP3 players.
Around a year later, I got a call about a role at ARM and took a position at their headquarters, also in Cambridge.
So from small companies to ARM – that must have been quite a change?
Yes of course – I was in the HQ but ARM has thousands of staff at sites all over the world.
My next role was in a large company too – after almost 3 years at ARM I moved to Illumina, who have around 4,000 people.
That was your first role in software for biotech?
Yes, at Illumina I was developing high performance computing for DNA analysis, and later looking at a slimmed down version for use on PC’s. It was also where I first worked with cloud computing – it was new at this time and we looked at putting the high-performance analysis onto the cloud.
And where did you move to next?
After 8 years with Illumina I got a call about a role at Fluidic Analytics.
At the time it was a new startup with no software team – quite a change from my direct team of around 10 people, and the hundreds of software engineers over different sites at Illumina.
How did you find that transition from large companies back to a small one?
It was fine – I really enjoyed the work at larger places, but it can become routine. In a small company like Fluidic Analytics you need to work on multiple projects in parallel and know about different areas not just be focused on one. It means there is more variety every day.
So what does an average day look like for you at Fluidic Analytics?
Most of my time is spent on code development. Designing and reviewing the architecture of the code is of paramount importance for reliable and robust equipment. I speak to the engineering and science teams as well as my own team on a daily basis, to discuss changes and priorities in projects. Our work is based on the Agile Scrum methodology, so depending on what stage we are at my activities can change quite a lot.
Here’s an average day for me:
Arrive and check my schedule for the day.
Answer any urgent emails or issues, and let the rest of my team know (via our internal chat system) what I’ll be doing the rest of the day.
|10:00||Code development – I’m currently working on new features needed by the optics department, to support their research.|
|13:00||Meeting – we have our weekly software standup to have a quick catch up among the team. Some days I will also need to meet for longer with our lab or engineering teams for overall project reviews.|
|14:00||Some time on code review – I’m currently going through a pull request generated by a colleague, to see if I can spot any unsafe construct.|
|16:00||Reporting and planning – I make sure my changes are pushed in our version control system, branches are merged, tickets are marked as either “in progress” or “done”, and discuss with the rest of my team any change of priorities rising from the work I did today.|
Thanks for sharing with us Mauricio!
Fluidic Analytics are frequently looking for new software team members. If you want to help shape and develop the software that underpins new lab instrumentation pushing biochemistry and biophysics research forwards, get in touch. You can view our current vacancies, and how to submit a speculative CV, here.