As a Computer Engineering graduate I had been exposed to a huge range of hardware and software challenges throughout my degree. Whether it was programming FPGAs, or optimising algorithms, I’d had some experience. This was what drew me into applying to GCHQ – the chance to play with the cutting edge of hardware and software.
Now, on a daily basis, I’m experimenting with an even broader range of “shiny toys” than ever before. It could be that one day I’m making use of machines filled with custom developed FPGA boards or GPUs to solve hugely challenging problems, or that I need to understand the complexities of running large NUMA clusters when other architectures just won’t cut it. At other times, I’ve designed and deployed the latest 40/100 Gigabit networking technologies throughout Advanced Technology Research and am even involved in taking storage in a brand new direction.
Software development is another key area for our team, with Linux kernel driver development for our custom boards, algorithm development and acceleration (both for our own research and supporting others across the department) and a host of other things programmers can get stuck into.
The sheer range of opportunities that a research post presents means that I’m constantly expanding my knowledge in a wide variety of fields, which is boosted further by getting to attend international conferences like SuperComputing. The information gained from these trips, as well as my own tinkering I do at home for fun (such as learning new languages and keeping up to date with the academic and commercial world), all gets bought back inside to support the wide-ranging research programme.
Whilst getting to grips with so many different technologies can be initially daunting, the wide variety of experts within research means you can be up and running in almost no time.