Software Systems Engineer
Computer Engineering, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX,
Marshall is a system
and embedded software engineer working on interactive
technologies for DLP® projectors.
that you can be passionate about, and look at your classes
through that lens. Being passionate about an end goal will make
learning the basics much easier."
When did you know you wanted to become an Engineer?
As a young kid, I always wanted to invent and
create new things. I would take apart toys and try to make them do
something new. This usually ended with me breaking the toy. Then during
the last few years of elementary school, my brother taught me how to
program in BASIC and C. As a result, that creative desire naturally
funneled into programming small games. Engineering became a perfect fit
as I grew older. It also didn’t hurt that my father, brother, and sister
were also engineers.
What was your college experience like?
College classes were
much more challenging than high school for me, so I quickly had to learn
how to study and manage my time. I focused mainly on electrical
engineering classes so that I could broaden my technical knowledge
beyond software. Of course, I balanced school work with the typical
college fun. At Texas A&M, that meant attending all the football games,
going two-stepping, and experiencing all the other traditions.
Did you incorporate work experiences while you were an undergrad?
I interned at TI all
three summers during my undergrad. My last internship was in the DLP®
group, where I hired in after I graduated.
How did you get your first job?
I submitted my resume
to TI through A&M’s engineering career fairs and ended up traveling to
Dallas for an interview. I then had to follow up a few times with the
recruiters to make sure I got placed for that first internship.
What's the most rewarding thing about doing the work you do?
The best part of my job is getting to work with so
many talented and cool people. I have had the privilege of working with
countless engineers across many disciplines, traveling the world to work
with customers and experience their cultures, and traveling with
business and marketing folks to promote our products. The people that I
work with are what make this job fulfilling.
Is there an example you can provide that shows how something you've
worked on has positively impacted the world?
The technology from
my pet project has recently made it into several products. Our DLP®
interactive projector technology allows teachers to turn just about any
surface into an interactive whiteboard. It does not require calibration
and allows the teacher to interact with the image at a distance. This
allows the teacher to walk around the room and better engage the
Do you spend a fair amount of time traveling?
It varies from year
to year, but a typical year might include a trip every couple months,
either overseas or domestic. I have had the great opportunity to travel
frequently to Asia and develop friendships with coworkers at our field
offices and engineers at our customers.
Do you have a mentor? Or did you in your college years? Was this helpful
I do not have a
formal mentor, but I have always had plenty of good relationships with
coworkers, management, and family. The experiences and advice they have
shared in casual conversation has been invaluable.
Do you find yourself working more in a team situation, or more alone?
I work exclusively in teams. There will always be
work that must be done alone, but the majority of my time is spent
interacting with others.
Do you find you are able to balance work with social/family life while
working in your current job?
It can be difficult
during crunch times when finishing up a project, especially when you are
personally invested in the project. However, my managers have always
supported a balanced work life. The challenge is learning to turn off
your own personal drive and set your own limits.
If you had to do it all over again, would you earn the degree you did?
Yes. There are
certainly classes I wish I had not taken and other classes that I wish I
had, but overall it prepared me well for the career I wanted.
If you had to do it all over again, would you be doing the same work you
are doing? Why?
Yes. It has not all been easy, but my work has
exposed me to such a broad life experience as to make it worth it.
Did you think that your education prepared you for the way the work gets
done in the real world?
My education prepared
me well with the technical knowledge necessary for my job, but my
internships were what prepared me for the way work gets done in the real
world. The key is learning not to rely on others for direction. Taking
the initiative to get things done, whether it’s your job or not, is
invaluable to an organization.
Where do you see jobs in the future for those interested in science,
technology, engineering, mathematics, or medicine (STEM)?
The best advice I can
give is to keep your eyes open, look for ways to improve the world, and
create the job or position for you to accomplish that goal.
What should middle and high school
students be doing to prepare themselves to take on STEM careers?
Find something that
you can be passionate about, and look at your classes through that lens.
Being passionate about an end goal will make learning the basics much
How important is mathematics to the work you do?
Mathematics and logic are the building blocks for
everything I create. When I studied math in school, I was not good at
memorizing steps to solve a problem. Instead, I focused more on how the
equations behaved and how they could be used, and that has become
essential to my everyday work life.
What advice do you have for teachers or counselors who are assisting
students who are interested in STEM career?
Teachers should be
passionate about the subjects they teach. The subjects that held my
interest in school were often the subjects with the most passionate
teachers. Beyond that, help find projects where the kids can develop
their own passion. Give them the tools and freedom to go beyond canned