Shachi Nandan Kakkar
Engineer in making
Silicon Valley veterans and experts accept young engineers as one of their own, at DesignCon, make them feel at home
February 5th, 2013 by Shachi Nandan Kakkar
When I, a high school senior, got an invite to be a panelist at a panel discussion on “Engineering The Next Generation”, I was a bit surprised. I aspire to be an electronics or a computer engineer, but have still not entered College. My dad, Sunil Kakkar who founded a chip design and verification company SKAK Inc., serves on the technical program committee of DesignCon, told me that electronic design and semiconductor experts from all over the world will come to participate in the conference that will run for 4 days. The conference would be a high tech affair, so I would have to be technical in presenting my thoughts. I was somewhat apprehensive. Will he be able to get their attention – I thought? Could I speak on topics which will make sense to them? What will their reaction be, on a high school senior fromCupertinoHigh Schoolparticipating in the DesignCon conference?
So, I collected my thoughts together on why I want to become an engineer and what kind of a support from my teachers and parents has helped me make up my mind to do so. I also dwelled on the role of society in encouraging a youngster to choose STEM studies in College. My mom, Sarini Kakkar, designs costume jewellery for Sarini’s creations and it dawned upon me that she also architects and engineers every piece of jewellery to bring out the inner beauty of a woman. The relative dimensions, the colors, the stones are meticulously selected just as an architect designs a building. So, engineering is involved in everything that we do. When I arrived at the conference on venue on 29th of January, I went straight to the registration room and got a badge. The lady who signed me in was also surprised and appeared excited. I wore my speaker badge and entered the expo floor. Once on the floor, the glittering booths with lots of technical demos going on, attracted me towards them, but not for the technical content but for the various goodies which they were handing out like lighted pens, candies and free gourmet Pete’s coffee and signature desserts. I saw lots of smiling faces who were very willing to talk to have a conversation with me. I realized that engineers have fun too and they are not all about coding the entire time. I mingled with the veterans of the industry and they all wanted to hear my viewpoint. Later, I went to the Chiphead Theater where my panel was scheduled and met my co panelists as well as the panel moderator. Suddenly, it was like we were all collaborating to work on the next class project.
Later, I spoke on the importance of parents letting their children figure out how things work since they are inherently curious. I wanted to highlight that there is an engineer inside each kid and that curiosity needs to be groomed. I also mentioned that I regard my dad as my hero in the engineering world since my dad motivated me to consider engineering as a viable career. I chuckled that my dad told me I could do whatever I wanted to do as long as I did exactly as my dad told me to do. Other young engineers also brought out several interesting points which were reported in EETimes and Siliconbeat.com, the next day. Satisfied with the outcome of the panel discussion and with the reaction from the expert engineers, I met some more engineers and then proceeded to the VIP reception area where drinks and dinner had been arranged for the speakers and other members of the DesignCon staff. There I relaxed, and spent my time chatting up with several marketing and engineering executives of hi tech companies. Soon, I was one of them, dining and socializing with them, exchanging thoughts on the future of engineering. I felt as if I had known them for a long time and they were just my buddies at a school get together.
When I came home that night, I spread out my booty of goodies which I had managed to grab, on my bed, but also got a feeling that engineering is fun and that engineers relax after working hard during the day. I had made several new friends that day and had got a heartening welcome into the DesignCon community. But, the best friend that I made that day was “Mr. Chiphead”.