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Shachi Nandan Kakkar, a Cupertino High School senior, was attempting to relate his high school world to what he was considering doing in college—engineering. As he was searching for answers, he was also providing answers to some tough questions—questions which valley engineers had been struggling to answer for a while.

Is engineering too nerdy and only for geeks? Is it cool? Is it fun? Do engineers serve a useful purpose?

Kakkar’s message is simple: engineering is fun and challenging but one has to be passionate about the work and want to succeed. The message is not original but coming from a teenager it gathers some weight. At his age, teenagers like to imitate their peers and pursue passions that are considered “cool.” Kakkar’s blogs show passion for his chosen discipline.

Brian Bailey, previously chief technologist for verification at Mentor Graphics and now an independent consultant, recommended the article on Shachi written by Mike Cassidy in the San Jose Mercury News on his online magazine: EDN Best of the Web:
the-Web–September-19th-2012. The article is titled, “Don’t Tell Shachi Kakkar that Chip Verification is for Nerds.” Bailey remarked: “This is such a delightful story and an inspiration to many.”  The school principal, Kami Tomberlain agreed with Bailey. ”At Cupertino High School, we are very proud of Shachi’s creativity, clarity, and ingenuity. What an inspiring story.”

One reader commented: “See, being an engineer it’s not all that nerdy. Just need to have an open mind. Who knows, you can become one too..”

According to Suzanne Deffree, EDN’s online managing editor “When I came across this young man who so absolutely gets it, he gets what an engineer is about, he has that excitement, when we find that, we want to celebrate that, and we want to connect the established generation with the younger generation.”

What started as a quest for the relevance of engineering, served as a means to the answer. Through his blogs, Shachi has been attempting to relate what he understands well—the world of drama, chess, basketball, Olympics, his experience as a FBLA state level winner and as a DECA (business club) officer, to the achievements of a successful electronics engineer. Now, veteran engineers are coming back full circle and comparing their engineering world to these fields and trying to draw parallels. The real world of engineering and the nostalgic recollections of these fun filled activities seem to be converging towards a common goal.

Tom Fitzpatrick—A verification evangelist commented “As a former ‘theater guy’ I really appreciate your approach … Just as two actors can memorize the same script and deliver two very different performances, so can two engineers given the same specifications come up with different designs.” Engineering is as creative a field as theater.

Seasoned veterans like Tom Anderson, VP of Marketing, Breker Verification Systems drew a parallel between drama and engineering:  “… you have found a valid analogy to link the seemingly disparate worlds of theater and hardware verification. One of the hardest things for those of us in technology is explaining what we do to non-engineers. By using a non-technical analogy, your post illuminates the role of a verification engineer. I’ll propose that final hardware-co-software verification is the “dry run” in that it’s the point at which everything comes together. Tweaks can be made at that point, but it’s too late to make major changes without delayingthe ‘opening.’ Thanks for your thoughts!”

Kakkar was invited to speak at the prestigious DesignCon conference in January and present his views on “Engineering The Next Generation” at a panel. Kids want to break apart things to figure out how they work.  He felt that this curiosity in children needs to be nurtured for it could be the precursor to becoming engineers. Right guidance and motivation has to be provided along with suitable opportunities for the child to evolve in that direction. Kakkar’s views were well received.

Shachi Nandan Kakkar is a national level VLSI industry blogger who writes a blog regularly on EDN. He is also a Future Business Leaders Of America state level champion and a DECA President. He is on the advisory board as a Vice President for Creativity and Innovation at SKAK INC, a chip design and verification company founded by his father Sunil Kakkar.

(To read all of Shachi’s blogs, please google “Shachi Kakkar.” Follow Shachi on Twitter at )

Vandana Kumar

Vandana Kumar is a publishing executive with a 35-year track record in the industry. She leads the India Currents Foundation as President and CEO. As a new immigrant, she co-founded India Currents magazine...