UltraSoC started life as a university spin-out so the company understands the importance of close ties to education and of fostering a continued stream of talented engineers plus business skills for the future development of the company and the industry. Demand for electronics and software engineers and data scientists continues to outstrip supply, particularly here in the UK. As a growth-stage company, UltraSoC invests a relatively significant amount of time and money into its education program.
Collaboration with university departments on commercial projects:
In the summer of last year, UltraSoC led a consortium with two university departments and a security consultancy to secure an Innovate UK grant of £2m – the ambitious project will improve the safety and security of tomorrow’s connected and autonomous vehicles (CAVs).
Machine Learning (ML) experts from the University of Southampton now work alongside UltraSoC engineers to develop algorithms and code to identify security and safety issues; in parallel, the Institute of Future Transport at Coventry University is funded to develop a testbed demonstrator representing a full-scale automotive functional architecture to prove the solutions
Education awards and sponsorships
UltraSoC works closely in supporting the work of valuable industry bodies such as the UK Electronics Skills Foundation and Engineering Development Trust. https://www.ukesf.org/company/ultrasoc-technologies-ltd/
In 2019, UltraSoC sponsored two UKESF awards, one aimed at raising awareness and building skills in embedded systems engineering:
The other (together with AESIN and the UKESF) in automotive systems, functional safety and cybersecurity: https://www.ukesf.org/universities/automotive-electronics-competition/
UltraSoC has agreed to sponsor both again in 2020.
Later in 2020, UltraSoC will sponsor a Southampton University code quiz event.
Supporting engineers via internships and initiatives
UltraSoC runs a successful sponsorship programme for individual PhD students: for example, Dave McEwan, of the University of Bristol, is currently working on statistical, logical, and machine learning methods to gain insights into the operation of complex chips. As well as directly supporting his research, UltraSoC has sponsored his participation in industry events and conferences, including the recent RISC-V European Workshop.
Ricki Tura completed two successful internships at UltraSoC as part of the ‘Industrial Studies’ year of a five-year course in MEng Electronic and Electrical Engineering at University of Southampton. Last year, Ricki was recognised in the EW Bright Sparks award for 2019. In December 2018 Ricki was also awarded the UKESF Scholar of the Year Award. UltraSoC gave Ricki the opportunity to share his experience in a blog, to encourage more internships and to highlight the value of the program for industry and students alike:
UltraSoC’s internship program continues to be crucial to its own development and growth plans – with a number of new interns gaining experience last summer.
Aileen Ryan, Chief Strategy Officer (CSO) commented, “We find the program is genuinely valuable for both the company and the interns we choose – UltraSoC gains energy, enthusiasm and new ideas, while the interns gain experience of a busy, technically-demanding work environment, but are also empowered to explore ideas that can inform their future development both academically and professionally.”
The company is currently looking for an intern studying on the GCHQ accredited CyberFirst Programme.
Following a successful round of funding, UltraSoC followed through on its commitment to expand globally and opened a new office in Poland last year. The location in Warsaw was selected for its proximity to the city’s three key technology universities from where UltraSoC has been recruiting a team of UltraSoC embedded software engineers.
Encouraging female engineering students
CSO Aileen Ryan is keen to see the industry further supporting female students. As a member of the GSA Women’s Leadership Initiative committee, Aileen strives to ensure more young women not only enter the industry, but stay in the field and thrive. Aileen continues to focus on new initiatives that brings more women into the industry – and finding more ways to encourage young women to pursue engineering degrees is a crucial part of that.
As a current example of this, Senior Engineer Rasadhi Attale has been accepted onto an MSc in Software and Systems Security (GCHQ Qualification) at the University of Oxford and the company is supporting her with fees and study time.
Rasadi commented, “UltraSoC is more proactive than many large companies in providing such support. Myself and other colleagues have found barriers getting support for higher education from bigger companies.”
Direct support of university programs and events
UltraSoC has an ongoing University Program as part of which it provides free IP licenses to its commercially available products to participating university engineering departments, for the purpose of research or even for pre-commercial investigation, as a significant “value in kind” contribution.
On the back of the Innovate UK funded project with the universities of Coventry and Southampton, UltraSoC plans to fund at least one student to undertake a PhD or Masters.
Senior UltraSoC executives also sit on advisory boards for universities: CEO Rupert Baines at University of Bath business school, and CTO Gajinder Panesar on the board for Computer Science at Bristol University.
The company regularly sends team members out to universities across the country. For example, in February 2019, UltraSoC ran a spotlight event at Lancaster University, where Director of Systems Engineering Marcin Hlond, and Hanan Moller, Systems Architect, presented to students.
Looking further afield, CTO Gajinder Panesar has been supporting a RISC-V open-source project with ETH Zurich (https://ethz.ch/en/the-eth-zurich.html), a leading science and technology university in Switzerland. Students from ETH are already adopting UltraSoC’s RISC-V Trace specification to develop their own RISC-V trace encoder.
In June 2019, Alex Potter, one of UltraSoC’s youngest Design Engineers, participated in one of Sheffield University’s Taster courses – run in conjunction with the Engineering Development Trust and the UKESF. Out of 80 pre-university students participating, 40% were female and all expressed an interest in studying Electronic Engineering. The event involved networking and information sessions, with an opportunity to meet young engineers already active in industry.
Beyond pure technology programs with universities, UltraSoC is keen to encourage the development of business skills for technology and the company already sponsors a program with the University of Cambridge Judge Business school which is focused on business modelling for engineering companies. Last year, a team of 5 MBA students from Cambridge Judge worked on a successful market research project on automotive, defense and server markets. This year the company had another Cambridge Judge team helping with a market sizing project. CSO Aileen Ryan has also been mentoring another team on a project for another company, whilst the students work simultaneously on an UltraSoC project.