Priit Tänav, an electronics engineer at Krakul, graduated from the Estonian Aviation Academy and received a Master’s in electronics and communication technologies at Tallinn University of Technology (TalTech). Priit’s interest in electronics started at the aviation academy when he began building physical components, switches, indicators, and buttons for flight simulator computer games in addition to the lectures. Priit advises young people to study electronics because, in this field, it is easy to achieve a level of competence that seems like a complete mystery to the rest of the world.
What are your duties?
Krakul has been engaged in electronics design for ten years. The company has many clients and ongoing projects being developed in parallel. Customers often want to modify some finished products and add or remove functionalities so that the product can be used in other applications. My work involves a lot of updates for existing projects according to the client’s needs. For example, a customer may say that he/she has an idea, but would it fit into the product’s case, and could it be done? Part of my job involves negotiating with component manufacturers before making actual changes. I will initially make a sample or model to test whether pieces of these sizes would fit in the product or fit electrically and research what other components and modules would be needed. If the sample suits the customer, we go into more detail – write a specification document, agree on what the customer wants, and then start developing a specific product.
What does your working day look like?
We have a team meeting on Monday mornings, where the team leader asks for feedback on the completion of the previous week’s tasks, and together, we set new tasks for the week ahead. In the meetings, we estimate how much time something will take and what could be done during that week. The rest of the time is spent on the assignments agreed at the meeting. When I finish something, it goes to another electronics guy in Krakul for review.
Work is done in teams. When we start a new project, we propose various ideas, and when one engineer moves on, others participate in the documentation. In addition, my job also involves communicating with clients during the meetings.
What is the most satisfying thing about your job?
In a way, I feel that the electronic world is where I can improve something. With these skills, I can make myself necessary – offer value to others and not wait for input from somewhere else on how to develop myself.
Every job has a name, and I would like to feel proud of what I have done. Working on projects you believe in as a user or investor is easier.
What are the biggest challenges in your work?
Electronics is a field in which not everyone can be an expert. Our customers are mostly not electronics specialists. In electronics, even a tiny detail means a lot, and there are very many of these tiny details. Sometimes doing a seemingly small thing can take a lot of time. Our project managers must be able to explain to the client why things sometimes take time. In electronics, doing one thing well at a time is better. The alternative is to make several prototypes quickly and then see what works and what doesn’t. Both options are possible, both have pros and cons, but I prefer a way of working where I can control these things.
What skills does your job require?
I don’t believe only one type of person can work as an electronics engineer. It is important to dig deep and make yourself easily understood in complex technical matters. There are many different subfields in electronics, and if I must ask another electronics specialist for advice, I need to make my previous work easily understandable to the other person. If, for example, another specialist has not familiarized himself with the important topics to me, he cannot answer anything in passing. You must be able to describe what you know and don’t know, where you recommend going next, or what you think should be done.
How long have you worked in this profession?
The first project was completed in 2015 when I did my thesis on an electronic measuring device at the Estonian Aviation Academy. It was an actual device that could be used. For two years, I worked as a software developer and did various other projects under my company. Now I am working for the first time as an electronics engineer.
What have you studied? Why did you decide on this specialty?
I came to electronics by first doing applied higher education at the Estonian Aviation Academy in aircraft construction and maintenance. In the second year, we had an avionics basics course where the lecturer was electronics engineer himself. Besides lectures, he introduced us to the world of microcontrollers. I became very interested, and I started to build myself physical components, switches, indicators, and buttons for flight simulator computer games to increase the realism. That’s where my interest in the field started. The academy also had other electronics-related courses – digital electronics, basics of electronics, electrical engineering, and professional practices- requiring manual skills. This gave me the academic advantage to go on to study master’s degree in electronics and communication technologies at TalTech.
Why would you recommend young people to study electronics?
Starting with electronics, it’s easy to achieve a level of knowledge that seems like an utter mystique to the rest of society. Since most of the problems related to electronics are invisible on the circuit board and difficult to imagine, understanding electronics or being able to build electronic products seems like a magical skill that is very difficult for outsiders to understand. How even the simplest things work, like a traffic light and how it flashes, is space science to others.
At the same time, it is very easy for today’s teenagers to get started with electronics independently without external help. High school students can, for example, build something on development boards without a supervisor.
This article was first published at elektroonik.ee home page: https://elektroonik.estonianelectronics.eu/elektroonikainsener-priit-tanav/