Ben Houston – Engineering with the Measure Twice, Cut Once Approach
No matter how great a company’s products are, it’s the people behind them that raise a company to the next level. We are so very proud of the quality of our team at RLE. The people here make it a great place to come to work every day, and if we kept all their greatness to ourselves, well that would just be selfish.
We’d like you to meet Ben Houston. He’s been with RLE for a year and a half and he’s taken the reigns of our next wireless project. He’s smart, dedicated, and diligent. But the thing we like most about Ben? He works with all these complex systems and technologies, but will absolutely take the time to answer any and all questions you have about what he’s working on in a way that so is relatable and understandable. We’re grateful to have Ben at RLE, and are excited to see all his research and hard work come to fruition!
What do you do for RLE Technologies?
I am a firmware engineer working on new product development. I’ve been with RLE 1.5 years and have a background in wireless communications and electrical and computer engineering. I appreciate the opportunities for growth at RLE, both the opportunity to help grow the company and the personal growth that comes with it.
As you can imagine, working for a small company we all wear many hats. I’ve gained a much better understanding of how all aspects of a manufacturing business work through my time at RLE, and I find that very valuable. Coming from the military sector, when you work on a government funded project you have a lot of financial resources. When you work for a small business, you need to understand how to maximize efficiencies to work within your budget while protecting the company’s bottom line. From an engineering standpoint, one of the most effective ways to maintain this stance is to apply rigor and discipline to engineering research and practices. It’s the familiar measure twice, cut once approach.
I’ve also been able to share my experience with scalable processes. I’ve helped our teams apply the processes engineering teams use in larger companies. This concept, the ability to implement scalable processes into our footprint, is so critical and symbiotic. It has helped create a framework that will grow with our company, while at the same time facilitating and enabling that very growth.
What’s the best part about your job?
I value the ability to look at large systems and concepts at a higher level. I analyze big picture items and also the lower level components so I can develop and present a complete picture of a system. This helps provide solid groundwork for design architecture and project execution.
This also gives me the understanding and ability to characterize the problems of a customer and work with the RLE team to find solutions given our current design roadmap.
Describe your research – what are you investigating?
My current research involves documenting the RF ecosystem within a datacenter. I’ve gone to a series of data centers and used RF instrumentation to take samples, over time, of their RF (wireless) energy. Through quick, strategic targeting, I’m working to understand how to navigate a wireless system within the 900ISM band in a datacenter environment, and to identify any potential pitfalls that may be present.
RLE needs to understand how to make a wireless system that will operate harmoniously with what’s already in a datacenter space, as well as with what will be there in the future. And by what will be there, I don’t mean having the clairvoyance to foresee what will happen in the marketspace. Rather, we need to understand how to design flexibility into our system. We already know if a new system is introduced into an environment that contends with ours, we could see a loss of data. But how do we use that flexibility, that agility, to recognize the disruption in the data stream and adjust our system accordingly so both our system and the newly introduced system can successfully operate in the same space? Ultimately, this coexistence is what the data center operator is looking for.
Why do you believe your research is interesting and helpful for the general data center industry?
This concept of cohesion is so important. We need understand where the pitfalls are for this project, and where the space is to operate successfully within a data center environment. After all, we don’t engineer in a bubble. Understanding the internal wireless systems in a data center and characterizing the external wireless systems that are not controlled by the data center operator are paramount to the development of a successful wireless platform.
Describe RLE in three words – why these three?
Dedicated – We listen to our customers and incorporate employee input to act upon customer needs. Everyone here is onboard, looking for better ways to help our customers and each other. We’re all striving to improve the customer and internal company experience.
Innovative – We’re always looking for new products and technologies to help our customers and end users. Today we’re developing our first completely in-house wireless system. We’re trying something new, but are careful to do our due diligence and scientific research so we launch with a solid foundation. Engineering rigor and discipline are applied throughout the project.
Productive – RLE has a track record of 30+ years of manufacturing production. We’re always churning out products, and we’re always looking to make the next new product or revision. We’re a company that thrives on product evolution and new product development. It’s interesting – and a little weighty! – to see an entire company grow anxious and expectant for a new product launch. Everyone at RLE just has that innovator mentality – we want new, quality products, and are uncomfortable with stasis. As an engineer, it’s a great environment. I feel very enabled at RLE – no idea is a bad idea, and every idea is an opportunity for discussion and evolution.
Leave a Reply