Ten questions for Heidrun Bohris, a firmware specialist, who has been supporting our development department with her technical expertise since 2010.
When you were a little girl, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I can’t remember myself but my mother once said that I was determined to be a doctor’s assistant.
And when did you decide that you wanted to study electrical engineering?
After I completed my apprenticeship as an engineering assistant. Prior to that, immediately after I left school, I wouldn’t have dreamed of doing something like that. At that time, that was something that only a few nerds studied.
Why did you decide to enroll in a technical degree? Was it a question of the only thing being left to do?
Economics or something along those lines was out of the question – I hate even having to complete my tax return (laughs). People who study languages mostly go into teaching and I didn’t want to do that either. And I didn’t have the stomach for medicine. During my apprenticeship I became aware of the things that a development engineer does and discovered that this was also precisely what I wanted to do.
As a firmware programmer you are working in an area dominated by men, aren’t you? Yes. At least that’s been my experience. In three places where I worked I was invariably the only woman. However, I often had female colleagues in the software department.
What exactly do you do at SVS-Vistek?
I am responsible for programming industrial cameras. That involves controlling the image sensor (CCD or CMOS), image processing (error correction, image quality optimization) and the transmission of the image data to the PC via various interfaces (Ethernet, CXP).
What do you find so fascinating about FPGA programming?
The fact that I am so close to the hardware. You are really directly involved in the electronics rather than merely pushing a few buttons on the screen. Others may see only a blinking LED but as a FW engineer you have a feeling of great joy. The epitome of that is to see a camera image on the PC in which something is moving. And you can fiddle around with the algorithms to your heart’s content until you get a perfect image.
What projects are you working on at the moment?
At the moment I am integrating a number of features in the HR25 and the SHR47 with the CoaxPress interface. We already have an image but want to be able to reduce its size or rotate it, for example.
What is the most difficult task that you have had to solve with SVS-Vistek firmware to date?
We recently had an error in a prototype that was very well concealed. It was very difficult to localize and reproduce it.
And did you find a solution?
Yes, but only by working in a team. Someone describes the problem, while the solution occurs to someone else. This is how you tackle the problem.
You are a working mother – how do you manage these two aspects of your life?
I change hats when I leave for work in the morning and at noon when I come home again.
What do you think that the company and the government can do to achieve a better balance between having a family and working?
I must admit that we have always been lucky enough to find a place in daycare centers, kindergartens and lunch-hour child care without too much of a delay. And I am able to organize my working hours fairly flexibly. For instance, I can go home for an hour at short notice or stay longer at work when my daughter is with her grandmother. So we have no major problems.
What do you do when you are not programming firmware for SVS-Vistek? House work, helping with homework for example. In my spare time, I do yoga, go swimming and go on hikes.
With firmware there is no risk of infections. However, in real life, there is currently a high risk of contagion - what are your recipes for dealing with the sniffles or a cold?
Spending as much time in the fresh air. And if it’s not too cold or wet, I cycle to work. That way, I don’t have to go to a fitness center!
Many thanks for the conservation