How This Intel Principal Engineer Created a Breakthrough in Remote Architecture
From being the first engineer in her family to becoming first female principal engineer in all of Intel IOTG Malaysia, Angie Ng has had quite a career. She has pioneered multiple innovations and is the lead of the Industrial Advisory Panel for Multimedia University, and she also mentors technical women who need support in moving up the career ladder. But before she accomplished all of that, she was a timid schoolgirl who almost failed her first physics test.
We recently spoke with Angie about her professional journey and the wonderful work she does at Intel.
Can you tell us how your fascination with engineering started?
I grew up on this lovely island in Penang, and I attended secondary school at Penang Chinese Girls’ High School. When I was in Form 4, I almost failed my first physics test. My physics teacher was one of those people who was very passionate about the subject, and I was very anxious about upsetting him with my results. So, I studied for my second test and made sure I scored really well. This continued over the following years, and I gradually developed a fondness for the subject and the field. So, that’s how my physics teacher inspired me to choose engineering as a profession.
What brought you to Intel?
In my 24-year-long career, I changed my job role every three or four years. And it was not about the money; I was always eager to keep learning. In fact, when I moved to my second company, I downgraded my position with zero pay adjustment, just so that I could learn the new field-programmable gate array (FPGA) technology. It was for the very same thirst for learning that I joined Intel in 2009, rejecting offers from other companies. Looking back, I am confident that I made the right choice. I learnt and grew so much at Intel with the flexibility I was given to explore my innovations in the field.
Can you take us through your career evolution at Intel?
I started my career as an electrical validation engineer before getting promoted to electrical validation lead within a year. Even though I was not a manager then, I had 17 engineers working under me, and we were reporting to senior management in the U.S. Within two years, I became a validation engineering manager and was sent to Chandler, Arizona to complete a certification in Functional Safety (FuSa). I completed six years in the Engineering Validation group at Intel, and then moved to Customer Engineering, which was truly a transformative experience for me. We had to interact with customers, and understand their use cases, pain points, and requirements. To do that, we had to hone our soft skills like stakeholder management, presentation skills, and so on. It was really exciting to switch from a validation engineer to a customer-facing platform application engineer (PAE) and that is my current job role, along with being a principal engineer.
Can you talk about the System Cloud for Universities initiative you pioneered? How was the idea born?
The vision for the project took shape when one of our customers asked me to urgently visit their site in Japan. The first thought that came to me was I could debug the board remotely without having to actually travel there. At that time, I was able to resolve the issue immediately using TeamViewer, making the customer really happy. I started building on the idea and realized that TeamViewer had some limitations, which led me to create a robust remote architecture called Cloud-Based Remote Debug (CBRD). This allowed both the internal Intel teams and external parties to have concurrent remote access on the same platform, enabling simultaneous design or debug activities. This was a big breakthrough in architecture.
When I realized the strength of the innovation, I extended this idea and applied it to the System Cloud for Universities (SC4U) initiative. The objective was to provide an alternative for professors and students to access the FPGA development kits in the universities, especially during the pandemic. The students could complete their final year projects and the professors could teach digital engineering remotely using FPGA. We also developed a few additional innovations for SC4U based on augmented reality and robotics.
What advice would you like to give young people who are considering Intel?
I always encourage youngsters to join Intel. There are a lot of great factors that make it an ideal place to start your career. One of them is the flexibility of job rotation Intel provides. If a different department needs help, either full time or part time, it is posted on an internal portal. This helps you try out a new role in another department without actually moving there. You can expand and develop your skills with the number of opportunities at Intel.
How do you see your future unfolding at Intel?
As I mentioned earlier, I usually change my role every three or four years, but I want to stay in my current role for much longer. I will continue to drive all the innovations under CBRD, SC4U, and artificial intelligence that I am working on. I am also looking forward to creating new solutions and innovations in the coming years. I see a bright future at Intel, where I hope to expand my efforts and innovations in different business units and geo-sites globally across Intel. Yes, there definitely is a bright future for me here.
Inspired by Angie’s career? Enhance your skills and grow your expertise in the Internet of Things Group (IoTG) at Intel Malaysia. Click here to find out how.