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Monday, Jul 30 2012

The “Minnie” Scoop on Cisco’s TelePresence System: A Video Test Engineer’s Experience

Written by

Minnie Yuan, Video Test Engineer at Cisco

minni.y.blog .pic For over a year now, Minnie Yuan has been a team member of The Armada Group working as a Video Endpoint Test Engineer for Cisco Systems, Inc.  Prior to working for Cisco, Minnie attended the University of Massachusetts and graduated with a M.S. in Computer Engineering where she began working for High Tech company in Massachusetts.  In 2000, Minnie relocated to California to explore her opportunities in the world-renowned Silicon Valley.  When she reflects on the advantages of the West Coast, she comments, “With so many companies in [the] Silicon Valley, we [engineers] definitely have an advantage with working for different companies with software testing experience and expertise.”  Through Minnie and Armada’s team effort, she was connected to such an experience, and has since enjoyed working with Cisco’s TelePresence System.

From her previous years of working experiences, Minnie had learned much about the processes and structures of working for a large company.  As she explains in her own words, “…the process is the most important thing.  We all come from different backgrounds, and if there is no process to follow, [then] everyone does their own thing and no one works together.”  As part of Cisco’s process, test engineers are required to become familiar with a project before they begin working on it.  To gather information about the product, test engineers must first conduct their research by looking at relevant in-house documentations.  Since in-house documentations are not always up-to-date, Minnie relies on her co-workers for information on new or unfamiliar projects.  From her personal discovery she states, “The fastest way [of researching] is talking to people who have worked on the same project… [because] each of their answers will point me to one area.”  If her co-workers help is still not enough, Minnie resorts to the Internet.  As she recollects the past, she notes, “Before Google, we only searched for information in-house.  Now we have it [available] worldwide for common knowledge, and if you want more information on something you can Google it.”

As a video test engineer, Minnie is also responsible for setting up software and ensuring product quality.  When the products have been ordered and shipped from in-house manufactures, the test engineers must assemble the different cables and wires.  Once the hardware pieces are positioned in place, the engineers go online to attain the product’s source code to set up the network.  According to Minnie, getting the hardware and the network running can be tedious and take up to a couple of days.  As soon as both systems are set up, the test engineers can finally test the video product itself. 

Testing the product and making video calls to other test engineers is Minnie’s favorite part of the job.  Minnie said the hands-on experience of using the product is both fun and vital to the overall quality of the TelePresence System.  As she points out, “…for video products you still have to have a human experience.  It’s not like you can just let the machine run automatically overnight [for] 24 hours per day to get pass or fail results.”  Engaging and interacting with the product is also important in gaining insight and knowledge on how the customers will be using the TelePresence System.  During testing, Minnie explains, “…you definitely need to hear it and see it… because that’s what the customer is going to use every minute when they turn on the TelePresence.  They are going to talk, see, and share information.” After the engineers finish their initial examination of the product, they begin focusing on testing assigned features of the system.

When testing the system’s specific functions, the engineers are required to examine many defined feature cases to find and correct product errors.  With new hardware or software, test engineers treat each of these cases as important, but if they are working with a newer version of software, they focus on prioritizing the importance of each case.  In order to accomplish looking over 300 test cases, Minnie makes 15 cases a priority and executes those first.  If she finds anything wrong with the products from her test results, she is quick to inform the developers so that they can immediately fix the problem.  Once the higher priority cases are looked over and the errors are fixed, the remaining cases are considered medium to less important because of their low impact on the entire project.

The experience Minnie has gained as a video test engineer for Cisco has been most valuable and educational.  She enthusiastically says, “I am very happy to have the opportunity to work on a very high-end product with such a great company.  After a year of working on the job, I really see a lot.”  Also proud of her success is the Armada team who helped connect Minnie with her worldwide experience at Cisco’s Telepresence.  We are inspired by her accomplishments and hope to connect our future consultants with similarly successful and innovative opportunities.

Contributed by: Renee Gonzalez, The Armada Group