Blog: August 2016

Ready, set, go! Kickstarting with E.S.R. LabDays

| Bastian

When we joined E.S.R.Labs around the start of June this year, it was an exciting time for us: Getting to know a new company, new people and learning about the amazing complexity of handling full-stack software engineering not only on ECUs from very low-level we-control-single-pins-on-microcontrollers to fairly high-level we-have-a-Java-VM-with-Android-running-on-our-controller, but going even beyond the boundaries of the embedded devices.

“We”, this is Tom, Wolf and Basti who all are experienced in software engineering and decided to join E.S.R.Labs in various roles.

Right after we joined, we were offered the option to participate in the LabDays this year: Go to the “cabin in the woods” in Austria for three days and spend our time on some fun engineering projects. Obviously, we didn’t think twice and agreed to join – after all we are totally engineer-mindset-ed just like all the other colleagues and it was a great opportunity to have some fun and get to know a bigger bunch of people right away.

labdays2016_cabin So we drove together with the other participating colleagues to the cabin and first of all enhanced that wooden, traditional cabin with all our tech equipment: Laptops were unpacked, network switches and cables were put into place, power cables were distributed and microcontroller development boards were prepared. All in all, it felt a little like those LAN parties we had when we were younger – you know, getting together with friends, everyone brings their computer to play some games and first of all you try to get the network up running – with which we oftentimes failed back then because no one knew how it actually worked. And after the network was finally up, half of the scheduled time was already gone. labdays2016_work

Actually, that kind of comfy vacation feeling kept up for the rest of the LabDays – we were not strictly “working”, but it rather felt like “hacking with friends”. That probably was possible since basically all of E.S.R.’s employees are great tech-people with whom it’s simple to connect with and we all were able to focus on the LabDays without being disturbed by e-mails, calls etc.

The projects we worked on were – just like last year – defined beforehand and were set up in such a way that they’re small enough, but still ambitious to achieve within the given time. ladbays2016_robot Also people were encouraged to work on something that is not directly part of their day-to-day work, but rather on something that interests them or where they’d like to get started somehow – be it new libraries, new programming languages, new protocols or whatever one could think of. For example, we had a project where our company library should be accessible easier through an Android app, we had some colleagues getting started on machine learning, a team working on a self-driving robot, one implementing a blazingly fast IPv6 switch, someone was getting started with Clang/LLVM and another team built a digital picture frame that was identifying the people passing by via bluetooth.

As we were playing working hard, we also needed to eat something. But everything was taken care of: For example one time there was the engineers most-liked food: Pizza! But then other times we were either cooking ourselves (also very yummy breakfast!)


Or were having some barbecue.


All in all – who would’ve expected anything different – the LabDays were a great success! We, the new guys, got kickstarted to learn more about which colleagues work on what in day-to-day life, what they are interested in apart from that and were able to experience that great feeling of having joined a totally tech-focussed company with everyone participating in coding on the projects – from the software engineers to the engineers in residence and to the project managers. It was basically a great company-wide team building event, without the sometimes slightly embarrassing “games” the participants need to play on other such events, but instead totally tech-focussed and it was fun for everyone! labdays2016_outsideAnd even the chicken was delighted ;-)

We’d like to thank, first of all, the two guys who organized this whole event, Andrei and Tom, and of course our new employer, E.S.R.Labs for making this possible!