An Exciting Co-op Term in Silicon Valley

Spring 2014

Nicole Pitre

Schulich Leader at University of Waterloo

My winter co-op term was one of the most exciting and valuable experiences in my life so far. At the beginning of January, I hopped on a plane and landed in the San Francisco Bay Area of California (often referred to as Silicon Valley) to start an internship at the Sunnyvale office of Broadcom Corporation. Broadcom is a global leader and innovator in semiconductor solutions for wired and wireless communications. Needless to say, I was excited to get involved in the technological innovation that happens at Broadcom. My role in the company was called Applications Engineer. I was part of the Mobile and Wireless Group, which is one of Broadcom's three main business units. From my first day on the job, I was contributing to meaningful projects and constantly learning about engineering concepts and wireless technologies. My job focused heavily on preparing, testing, and demonstrating the capabilities of new wireless features and technologies. B efore starting at Broadcom, I knew very little about the IEEE 802.11 wireless networking standards and how to set up a wireless network. After a few weeks at the company, I was able to build a wireless network and explain the differences between the different 802.11 standards. I was also able to test and explain the throughput (i.e. data rates) for wireless chips. My manager was always enthusiastic and supportive during my time at the company; he made sure that I was working on interesting projects and that I was able to meet my career development goals (e.g. developing new technical skills). Even though I was working in Sunnyvale, I was living in downtown Palo Alto, near Stanford University. I visited Stanford and met PhD students and post-docs from the Stanford Linear Accelerator (SLAC) who were involved in groundbreaking research. In conclusion, living and working in Silicon Valley was an enlightening and unique experience. I am grateful that employers in North America an d across the world provide such fantastic STEM internship opportunities to University of Waterloo co-op students. Now I am attending the Spring term of classes (May-August), which will be the final academic term of my second year. I am looking forward to another busy and enjoyable term here at the University of Waterloo!