The first year of Sii Częstochowa was marked by projects in the area of embedded systems. A team of experienced embedded engineers implements projects for global brands in the automotive and railway industries. Among them are Łukasz Grądzik and Artur Bałut, who talked about the specifics of their work, biggest challenges and career paths.
What project are you currently working on?
Łukasz Grądzik, Architect at the Embedded Competency Center: Together with Artur, we are involved in the Secure Gateway project in Body Control Module system for an electric car of an European brand. Body Control Module, which is responsible, e.g. for lighting control (inside and outside the car), windshield wipers or windows was naturally already implemented in the previous generation of the vehicle. The “secure” element is the innovation. The main functionality of SGW is to ensure communication between several buses in the car and the security (cybersecurity) of such a connection.
Artur Bałut, Software Engineer at the Embedded Competency Center: For the vehicle user, the main consequence of implementing Secure Gateway will be the lack of access to settings, modifications and making changes to these specific modules. This means that most operations will have to be performed by an authorized service center. From a classic local area network (ethernet), this solution resembles an eight-port router, a managed switch. Cybersecurity elements used in the project include signing new software and access authentication using X509 certificates protecting sensitive data, as well as calculating CMAC for software already loaded, in order to eliminate its substitution or damage.
Why are you interested in embedded systems?
Ł.G .: Since I got my first computer – Atari – when I was young, I was interested in how it happens that when I write a command, the computer provides the result. When I was learning my first programming languages – Basic and Pascal – I was bothered by the fact that it is a kind of an “overlay” for a user, that there is much more going on underneath, but this is not visible at first glance. When writing programs, I also studied assembler and used optimization tricks. I liked low-level programming. I felt that I was going in the opposite direction to the whole industry, which introduced programming languages with an increasing level of abstraction, trying to maximally separate the software from the device. What do I like the most about embedded? “Squeezing” maximum performance from the equipment, creating dedicated solutions. The greatest satisfaction comes from the physical result of work, that the created device can be picked up, that the effect of its operation is reflected in our physical world.
A.B: I became interested in programming as a teenager. At the time, it only concerned a PC, although there was more than one item on the list of technologies and languages I tried. It wasn’t until the third year of my university studies that I joined the scientific association for microcontroller programming. And that’s how it all started.
Have you been implementing projects for the automotive industry from the beginning?
Ł.G.: For most of my professional life, yes, mainly in security systems. In addition, I also created software for electricity meters, elevators, and railway security systems. As a hobby, for a change, I’m developing a home automation system.
A.B.: I started my professional adventure with the embedded world in the radio frequency department. I was responsible for data receiver from the sensors measuring the tire pressure. Then I switched to passive security systems. I programmed modules responsible for detecting accidents and launching airbags.
Most of the projects you worked on were security related. What are the biggest challenges in your everyday work?
Ł.G.: Partly the same as for any programmer, i.e. fighting against time and deadlines in which the project must be delivered and rapid development of new technologies – you still need to learn and develop.
And partly typical for the embedded world problems resulting from a large interaction with the physical world, very limited resources of microcontrollers, sometimes fighting for single bits and fractions of seconds.
A.B.: In addition to the time mentioned by Łukasz, it is also a modest resource of flash, RAM and processor clock speed far different from the values known from PCs or even smartphones. And last but not least, these are errors that occur at the interface between hardware and software. Among other things, these challenges cause some uniqueness of the embedded programmer’s work, which is unknown to Java or C # programmers.
Łukasz, in Sii you often appear as a speaker at various meetups. Why are you willing to get involved in such initiatives?
Ł.G.: I just like to share knowledge. In addition, it is a field to discuss and learn the point of view of other specialists – a great opportunity for me! The need to prepare logically coherent materials for a presentation also makes me identify gaps in my knowledge, which I then gladly fill.
Everything points to the fact that the next year in Sii Częstochowa will also be marked by embedded systems. We are looking for the following specialists to join our team: C / C ++ Embedded Developer, Autosar Developer and Test Developer with Python. Experts will have the opportunity to develop mainly in projects in the automotive industry with an emphasis on the area of autonomous driving.
All job offers can be found in our career tab.