Pattern recognition in music and engineering go hand in hand
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Name: Brian Cabinian
Job Title: Process Engineer
Country: United States
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your current role at VIAVI?
Hello! I’m Brian. I grew up in Illinois and went to school there, but got sick of the snow and decided to move to sunny California. In 2018, I joined VIAVI Optical Security and Performance Products (OSP) in Santa Rosa as an Engineering Development Program (EDP) trainee. After finishing that program, I joined the process engineering team in June 2020. As a process engineer, I monitor and look for ways improve manufacturing yields for the optical filters we make for consumer electronics (i.e. cell phones). I work with people from many groups (operations, quality, maintenance, and equipment engineering) to identify the root causes of yield loss and develop feasible ways to prevent the same yield loss from happening again.
Tell us about your favorite hobby and what skills or qualities it enables you to bring to your role at VIAVI.
My favorite hobbies are playing and listening to music. I play classical music on clarinet and piano but like to listen to all genres of music. I think the skills you develop as a musician are surprisingly similar to those that you use as an engineer. Reading a musical score is a massive exercise in pattern recognition – to read and play quickly, musicians have to recognize the notes and sounds they’ve seen before. And pattern recognition is one of the most essential skills for engineering work – to solve problems quickly, I need to recognize if there are any similarities between a new problem that’s come up and all the other problems I’ve seen before. Practicing music also requires you to experiment with the smallest details to get the sound or impression you want. That creative experimentation is quite close to the scientific method that I use every day to come up with hypotheses and experiments to better understand or improve our manufacturing processes.
Name something that VIAVI offers that would be exciting for early-in-career employees.
I recently read “Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World” by David Epstein, which suggests that the majority of high performers across a variety of fields began their lives or careers with a significant “sampling” period, where they tried many different activities. The sampling helps individuals improve their “match quality”, how well their internal goals match their external activities, and also gives them a diverse knowledge base to draw from once they choose an activity to specialize in, if they specialize at all. I think VIAVI is great at offering early-in-career employees this exact kind of sampling period.
The EDP program I took part in was explicitly designed to provide these sampling activities by having trainees work with 9 different groups within the company before taking on an official process engineering role. The program gave me many project and problem-solving experiences that have been really valuable in my new job. And even on the process engineering team, we still have great flexibility in what problems we work on. No one is stuck doing one thing; people can challenge themselves to develop new skills. The flexibility and diversity of experience that you can get at VIAVI makes our employees more efficient problem solvers, more creative innovators, and more empathetic team members.
You can read more about VIAVI Customer and Partner Champions on the “Together with VIAVI” website.