The University of Arizona

Alumni Early Career Profiles - Rene Bernal

Name: Rene E. Bernal
Education: B.S., Engineering Mathematics, Minor, Mechanical Engineering, The University of Arizona, 2006
Position: Applied Software Engineer
Honeywell Aerospace
Sector: Manufacturing


My employment after college has been with Honeywell Aerospace where I am currently working as an Applied Software Engineer. My duties primarily consist of developing code and logic diagrams for Auxiliary Power Units (APUs) that can be placed in commercial and government airplanes, as well as loading code onto Electronic Control Units (ECUs) to verify that the different states flow smoothly, all test vectors pass and safety conditions are met. A strong understanding of C/C++ is necessary to fulfill any coding that is required and any software programs (such as MatLab) are all very helpful.

Typically, any day consists of defining airplane requirements and constraints, integrating code from manual coding and auto-generated programs (including debugging that may occur), and complying with standardizations. Additionally, I attend meetings with other engineers, as well as creating documents for any released material. For my job, I use an intense amount of calculus as well as linear algebra and any mathematical toolset included in MatLab. Since calculations on machines are done in real-time (CPU time)and truncated to the last available digit, errors will always be included in any mathematical functions and must be reduced.

I received a B.S. in Engineering Mathematics and a minor in Mechanical Engineering at The University of Arizona in December 2006. Basically, any computer skills - hardware or software - are truly a benefit to get started at such a nice job right after graduation. Knowledge of any Windows operating system is probably necessary at any job, and learning Linux is always a plus. I recommend students learn as many software applications that contribute to writing code and/or analyzing math. Being an expert in every application (such as fixing patches) is not necessary, but the ability to get around in the environment shows an open mind towards learning new software.

Mathematics is no walk in the park. Although many find it hard to learn, the underlying concepts will stay with you forever (whether you know it or not) and its applications reach far beyond any other discipline. You may not get a 4.0 GPA with a mathematics degree, but the mere fact that you obtained one shows other people that no challenge is too hard for you.