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Radio frequency engineer: Wireless in Dallas

graphic
Christopher Byrd  

Name


Christopher Byrd

Position


Radio frequency engineer. An "RF" engineer designs and optimizes wireless networks -- cellular, PCS (personal communications services) and data networks. I work for a company named Metricom Inc. It's currently building out its nationwide high-speed wireless data network, Ricochet.

"Technology changes exponentially. Who knows what will be around when I'm in my 40s and 50s? What I do know is that I'd like to continue in the technology sector with the hopes of becoming a company CEO or own a technology company of my own."

Years in position


8

Age


32

Education


BS, electrical engineering, Florida State University

How did you get your current job?


I was recommended by a colleague from a previous project.

How many hours do you work per week?


Generally, I work between 40 and 45 hours per week, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., but that depends on workload, deadlines and travel time. I work in a fast-paced industry where time-to-market is the driving factor, so I am expected to get the job done. Thankfully, I have managers who rely on my professionalism to decide the time on the job above and beyond a standard 40-hour workweek.

What's the first thing you do when you get to work in the morning?


Coffee before anything. I spend the first half-hour or so checking and replying to e-mail. I'm responsible for the networks in nine cities, so 25 to 50 e-mails per day isn't uncommon.

  RICOCHETING AROUND
Metricom, for which Christopher Byrd works in Dallas, was founded in 1985 and is led by Timothy A. Dreisbach, chairman and CEO. Ricochet -- Metricom's wireless network with which Byrd works -- offers speeds of up to 128 KBps (kilobytes per second) from a laptop. The basic component is a wireless modem that works with PCs, Macs and hand-helds, using USB, serial or PC card interfaces. The company's stock trades under the symbol MCOM on Nasdaq. And we met Byrd when he used our submission form here at "A Day on the Job." If you'd like your day to be considered for a profile here at CNN.com/career, let us hear from you as Byrd did.
 

What time do you have lunch? What do you usually eat?


Noon. Anything but fast food. I like Tex-Mex, sushi, Italian and Chinese.

What time do things get tense around the office? What makes it that way?


Things really get tense between 1 and 4 p.m. Since we have offices in all four time zones in the United States, everyone is buzzing during that time.

If you're having a good day at work, what is it that makes it good?


A good day at work is one where I have a sense of accomplishment by finishing tasks or projects. I also enjoy coming up with solutions to problems or new design methods that haven't been tried yet.

  QUICK VOTE
graphic Want to fly like this Byrd? How would you like a career in RF engineering with wireless networks?

You just call (on a digital, please), I'm ready, sounds great.
Me, I'd rather use it than labor on it. I love being a customer and letting Chris Byrd do the work.
Sorry, I still think cords have a lot to commend them. With too much wireless, I can never get away from work.
View Results

How much work, if any, do you take home?


Even though I have high-speed wireless access to my corporate LAN at home, I try to minimize the work I take home with me. The company I work for stresses the importance of "home time" and "down time."

What does your work contribute to society?


At its core, the work I've done helps people communicate more effectively, and allows companies and individuals to compete in the global marketplace.

Do you expect to finish your working life in this career?


Yes and no. Technology changes exponentially. Who knows what will be around when I'm in my 40s and 50s? What I do know is that I'd like to continue in the technology sector with the hopes of becoming a company CEO or own a technology company of my own.

If you could have two more careers, what would they be?


Race car driver and team owner or an astronaut -- but I'm too tall to be either!

What is an unforgivable trait in a colleague?


Complacency.

What do you do to relieve stress?


"Things really get tense between 1 and 4 p.m. Since we have offices in all four time zones in the United States, everyone is buzzing during that time. "

I like to relieve stress by periodically walking around the office and interacting with my fellow employees. Talking through issues with others helps me to keep things in perspective.

What have you been reading lately?


John Grisham, "The Brethren" (Doubleday); Michael Crichton, "Timeline" (Random House); and Michael Palmer, "The Patient" (Mystery Guild/Doubleday).

When you have one of those days on which you don't think you can face the job again, what is it that gets you out the door in the morning and off to work?


Knowing that others depend on me motivates me to get out of bed in the morning when I'd rather not. I work with an outstanding group of talented engineers and support staff. The last thing I want to do is abuse their trust and respect.

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