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Embedded Systems Engineers

The Job

By lunchtime on a typical day, you might encounter dozens of embedded systems (which are sometimes called cyber-physical systems)—without even knowing it. They’re in our homes (appliances, televisions, DVD players, home automation systems, smart meters, etc.), on our roadways (microcontrollers in cars, traffic lights, etc.), and in our workplaces (printers, security systems, etc.). They also are key components of cell phones, trains, airplanes, digital musical instruments, and medical equipment. Embedded systems engineers research, design, develop, test, and troubleshoot these systems. Job duties vary by employer, but most engineers have the following responsibilities:

  • design and configure the hardware components (processor, controller, memory, timer, serial communication port, output/output circuit, system application specific circuits, power supply, keypad/keyboard, real-time clock, etc.) of embedded systems
  • design, develop, debug, and unit test the software in embedded systems, ranging from device drivers and real-time systems, to application programming interfaces and touch-screen interfaces
  • participate in requirements, design, and source code reviews
  • identify and implement opportunities for software process and development cycle time improvements
  • develop customer documentation, such as training manuals, performance specifications, and operating instructions
  • provide oral and written project status updates to managers and executives, as well as clients
  • troubleshoot malfunctioning embedded systems by creating documentation, flowcharts, and diagrams to support problem analysis
  • supervise technicians and technologists engaged in embedded systems research or production
  • conduct engineering studies and product evaluations to support new products
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