LER TechForce Employee Spotlight: Making an Impact
LER TechForce is launching a new blog series to highlight unique accounts of resounding recent successes. Every few weeks, we will shine a spotlight on an interesting customer, employee, or characteristic of life at LER.
LER TechForce has been a leader in technical and engineering solutions for the past two decades, partnering with world-class organizations in not only on-and off-highway transportation, but also the heavy equipment, medical device, and aerospace industries. Our resident engineers have provided crucial resource capacity in the form of timely expertise in functional safety, IT, and embedded controls and software, to some of the top companies in the world.
With our unique combination of highly-focused technical specialization, strategic partnerships, and career-focused recruiting and retention, we consistently deliver timely, high-quality engineering resources. Our relationship with LHP, Inc., a world-class consulting firm, gives us access to superior trainers and consultants in functional safety and engineering disciplines, which, combined with our highly-qualified workforce, provides engineering capacity our clients can depend on.
We provide engineering capacity to a world-class clientele across a wide range of industries. Resident engineers Shashidhar Baichbal and Matthew Winter recently shared some of their most memorable victories and client solutions they’ve found through the years.
Matthew Winter and Shashidhar Baichbal have nearly twenty years of combined experience with LER, and they share more than a few similarities. They’re both experts in their respective fields and are both very excited about finding new technical challenges. Both were recruited to come work for LER directly from college, where they earned advanced engineering degrees. In addition, not only did they start their careers providing engineering capacity to the same Fortune 200 global engine and technology manufacturer, but have returned years later to work on some of the most challenging projects for the same client. LER TechForce is counting on these resident engineers to lead their teams, and the client, to success.
Shashidhar came to LER after grad school and went immediately to work designing interfaces, control software, and developing system requirements. He performed validation testing of software features on engine simulators and developed on-board system diagnostics systems, among other tasks, on three different projects for 6 years before moving to another customer for a short stint. Following that, Shashi reported for duty for his most challenging role yet.
Matthew similarly came to LER directly after graduation. He designed, developed, and executed software tests on embedded controllers and other hardware. He moved to several projects over the next 5 years, and sometimes performed onsite management duties of LER technical team members in addition to engineering solutions for those customers. Matthew has been on a challenging new assignment since 2021, solving unique and difficult problems for a client.
Matthew next went to a major North American motorcycle manufacturer as a software engineer, and was able to bring more of his engineering skillset into play as he also built some test hardware for the project. “This customer was a great place for me because I got to do a lot of fun hands-on stuff again,” he said. This also showcases one of the great strengths of LER TechForce’s resident engineers: they are fully equipped with engineering training and industry knowledge. If they discover a need for a hardware test component that’s unavailable, their resourcefulness and ingenuity will help them find solutions and drive the project to completion.
The project had reached a point at which on-vehicle testing of components and control software was going to commence. “Motorcycles are relatively small and lightweight compared to cars or trucks. They’re easy to maneuver into position. Sometimes you could test things by just installing the module on the bike and running it on a dynamometer or even a set of rollers.” However, to test the antilock function against all the simulated use cases required, the rollers were not the answer. “They were spinning the same speed as the tire, so the antilock function wasn’t being tested adequately.”
With the knowledge of an LER resident engineer at work, this issue was soon resolved by the expedient method of simply building the test hardware that was needed.
“I got to build up basically a mini-HIL (Hardware-in Loop) bench tester for rapid prototyping to test that ABS (anti-lock braking) module. We had to simulate the bike going different speeds and then all these scenarios in the test plan. There was a lot of wiring, crimping, soldering. Hardcore engineering stuff. I built so much bench equipment, I basically lived down in the electrical lab for a while. The office had rules about how big a power supply you could have at your desk, and what we needed to test this brake module was going to draw a lot of power. So, we built this test bench down in the lab. We were able to use it to simulate the bike going different speeds and going through all these scenarios. It got the project moving, and on to the next step.”
For Matthew, LER’s contract with a supplier of heavy-duty off highway vehicle suspension components was a chance to get out of the lab and solve problems outdoors. “One project that really stands out for me,” he said, “was up in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. The project involved work to develop controls for suspension systems in military and off-highway applications. There was a lot of off-road driving on the suspension test track.” Testing of these systems occurred largely on-vehicle at that time, on a test track adjacent to the facility – a facility where Matthew was also an on-site manager for the LER TechForce team.
“That test track was really more like a giant off-road course,” he said. “We tested new combinations just about every day in these massive vehicles. To the military, they were medium-duty, but to me, they were gigantic. It was such a good experience, though, because you received immediate tactile feedback on everything you did, every change you made. Because you were out on the course testing it in this multi-ton vehicle. There’s the aspect of putting yourself out there a little, like old-time racing mechanics riding along with the driver in the car. You’d go through some part of the course and you could feel the vehicle’s behavior, the component’s behavior, in real time.”
Between the tactile feedback and the test drivers’ annotations, Matthew had all the information he needed to make improvements to the suspension controls on these off-highway vehicles.
Both resident engineers are now taking on new challenges.
Shashi Baichbal took nine months out from providing controller design solutions for his usual client base to do some model-based design and engineering of controllers in a new industrial setting and customer. He says that it’s vital for engineers to experience different and unusual problems and scenarios if they’re going to grow professionally. “The technology varies throughout LER’s customers and the industries we serve,” he said. “Some of our clients are building a whole vehicle, and not focused so much on engines and engine control. When you experience new situations, you bring fresh perspective and insight back with you, new solutions for solving sticky problems. It’s a real journeyman situation.”
Matthew Winter found a place for his advanced skills on a project that others seemed to find daunting. “It’s kind of a demanding set-up,” he said. His team deals with an outside customer who wanted to license and use certain engine-management software to control engines the two produce as a joint venture. “Most of the time, our client sells the engine, they build the software to run that engine, and it goes to their customer as a package. But in this partnership, it’s more like the client is selling software to go on someone else’s engine. It’s been a different experience.” The team’s project has faced challenges, but they are meeting them. And that’s right where Winter wants to be.
When Shashi Baichbal recently came to a new project, it was also to a team who’d been presented with a difficult task, which was a challenge he says he enjoyed. First as a Mechatronics product engineer, then working on calibration for manual testing and troubleshooting for On-Board Diagnostics systems, he said he expected a difficult task.
“This project was one that people thought was a very tough one. I had a lot of roles and responsibilities and not much time to absorb all of what was going to be required. I had to hit the floor running in here. But sometimes, when you’re too comfortable, that’s not right. You always want challenges or you don’t grow. When this project was first presented to me, of course, I felt nervous. But I kept thinking about it, getting my mind around it, and I thought, I can make this happen. And honestly, going in with the attitude that we’re going to tackle this as a team and make it work, it turns out that it wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be. I think one of the main reasons for that is the teamwork among the LER crew we have here to work on this project. Our teamwork here is amazing.”
Shashi says this latest project has kept him on his toes, but that through teamwork and the lessons in patience he learned earlier in his LER career, they have met the demands. “Once you master the tools, half of the problems are solved just by applying them. The other half, that’s the part where people have trouble, because that’s where you have to rely on your team, and use that fresh perspective from other experiences.”
LER TechForce serves multiple industries and provides consistent, professional, highly-trained and motivated engineering problem solvers. We increase our clients’ engineering capacity not only by the mere addition of workers, but by the fact that those workers are among the best and brightest in their fields.
Our exceptional workforce possesses world-class expertise, and we hone that with superior training and a focused approach to the problems we solve. Our clients don’t just receive added engineering capacity; they receive advantage, value, and a partner invested in their success.
As Matthew Winter says, “We’re the crunch-time team, the ones who come in to solve the problems that a client hasn’t been able to – that can be due to time limits, technical challenges, capacity, or some combination. We’re an intelligent, dynamic, and cohesive engineering powerhouse. LER’s executive team has the skill to make this business model work and keep us driving the client’s bottom line.”