Triggered by challenges
"Finding the solution to a technological puzzle such as making a system work consistently against the limits of its possibilities, is what drives me over and over again"
Q: Henk, what inspires you in software engineering?
After my studies in mechanical engineering, it wasn’t immediately clear where to go next. Then I realized what interests me more than anything, is how things are done. That’s when I decided that I wanted to be a software engineer. I have always been working in environments where the solution to a technological puzzle was important: how to retrieve information from an image, find the fastest and most effective way to put ink on the most diverse substrates, make a system work consistently against the limit of its possibilities. The programming language to use is not important, nor is the technical environment: the solution comes first.
Q: What do you like about working at VeroTech?
VeroTech gives me the opportunity to work in very diverse environments. Every new context gives me the challenge to explore and master a whole new field of expertise. And every time I find out that there’s so much more to learn, and there’s so much that I can pass on to my colleagues, within VeroTech and beyond.
What always strikes me is that, although we work scattered all over the country, in some respect I know my VeroTech colleagues better than I know my colleagues at the project. VeroTech is a community, and is not afraid to show that.
Q: What was your latest project about? Tell us more about the use and impact of the application.
I have been developing an emulator for automotive applications. Firmware in Electronic Control Units must be tested at every stage of the software development process, also in situations where the vehicle does not quite exist yet or when the tests are simply too dangerous to perform on a real vehicle. Test sequences must be played back on the ECU, with real-time precision if necessary, and the reactions from the ECU toward these triggers must be analyzed. Besides this, a lot of attention goes to the methodology of writing reusable test sequences, and to the challenge of closing the loop: linking functional requirements to test cases, and linking the test results back to the implementation and the requirements.
Q: In your opinion, what stands out about VeroTech as employer?
VeroTech maintains a very personal approach. People are closely followed and supported, and the match between the person and the project are guarded carefully. There are plenty of training opportunities, both for technical and personal skills. And social events are constantly being organized, to get together after work.
Q: How does your typical work day look like?
There is not really a typical day. As my responsibilities range from design, over implementation and testing, to bug fixing, every day is different. Usually I do debugging in the morning, followed by some creative work. The afternoons tend to be filled with hands-on work, trying to figure out how I can get the system to work. I try not to take my work home, in order to start the next day with a clear head again.
Q: Tell us something about your hobbies?
A lot of my spare time goes into board gaming. I’m a member of three gaming clubs in the neighborhood. Ever since I discovered that board games are alive and kicking and that there is an active community for it, I’m always on the lookout for exiting new games, and spreading the gaming virus wherever I go. An interesting niche is “cooperative” games in which you play as a group against the board. A good lesson in teamwork, and excellent fun too.
When I’m not gaming, I’m probably on the road. Long distance walking is my other passion. My favorite distance is 50km, but once a year I take part in one of the 100km marches that are organized all over the country. Besides finishing twice at the Dodentocht in Bornem, probably the most famous one in Belgium, I also finished about twenty other marches of this kind. There is nothing like clearing your mind for the best part of a whole day, while the landscape unfolds under your walking boots.
Far from living an ascetic life, beer is another interest of mine. I consider my cellar empty unless I have at least fifty types of beer to choose from.
And finally I’m very interested in languages. After Dutch, French, English, German and Spanish, I’m now studying Portuguese. Italian is next…
Q: Name 5 keywords that are important to you?
Community - loyalty - commitment - thoroughness - respect