Meet Rob, aka “Maple Leaf,” the engineer behind the RF spectrum view for our new 802.11ac access point.
Rob is originally from Canada where he studied systems design engineering at the University of Waterloo. He studied how to design interfaces to bridge the gap between society and the technology we all love to consume. Luckily for Meraki, this is exactly what we aim to do with our products, so Rob was a perfect fit.
In Rob’s first week at Cisco Meraki, 5 years ago in a humble one room office in Mountain View, Rob recalls his first project was to program the access points to ‘run dark’. “To make sure our products could run with all of their LEDs turned off to save a bit of energy and stop annoying blinking lights in dark rooms. We always joke that the firmware programmers are the ones that make the lights blink, but I guess I did the opposite.”
Our engineers always pride themselves on being able to adapt quickly to customer needs and Rob was able to do just that at the LeWeb conference in Paris. “At LeWeb we set up WiFi for over a thousand tech writers and bloggers. It was pretty exciting and a lot of pressure to make sure our equipment didn’t have any problems.”
Rob tells me about writing the SpeedBurst feature in one evening before the conference to ensure the attendees had a great wireless experience – burst downloads for quick web page loads, while still applying bandwidth limits to longer sustained streams. “It was a late night… or an early morning.”
One of the things I was most excited to ask Rob about was the RF Spectrum view he created utilizing the 3rd radio in our new 802.11ac access point. This view gives administrators deep insight into their RF environment along with average channel utilization for 2.4GHz and 5GHz channels. “The reason this is such a cool feature is that traditionally this is something that you get from a tool that requires you to be physically present. Now you can get the same data from anywhere in your network via the dashboard.”
He takes me through how he created this feature from scratch. “The radios change channels very quickly while collecting raw RF samples from an analog to digital converter. We then convert the RF samples into the frequency domain to present these graphs to the user.” Rob is able to explain this clearly and concisely but don’t be fooled, there is some serious signal processing happening in the background. Rob even got to break out some old textbooks and use those fourier transforms he hadn’t thought about since sophomore year in engineering school.
Rob has recently moved to a new role on our MX Security appliance team to work on even more features we will eventually see in the dashboard. On life at Meraki, “All of the people here are great. Everyone is forward thinking and there is no red tape. You can work on everything from bit toggling on the hardware up to creating a pixel perfect design in the UI.”
We love to let our engineers minds run freely. Check back for more highlights about the teams here at Meraki and as always, we’re hiring!