After a short sabbatical after working at Vertical Power, I joined on with CS Innovations not long after Westinghouse Electric bought the company in 2009. I believed my background with Medical Devices and MIL Spec development would lend itself nicely with the highly regulated nuclear industry. Within a year, the subsidiary went from 20 people to over 60; most of those resources were applied to their flagship product: the Advanced Logic System (ALS).
The ALS consists of a suite of electronic boards that provide high-reliability analog and digital controls for safety systems within a nuclear power plant. All boards have an FPGA-based control system to handle analog conversion, digital controls and inputs, communication links, and built-in-test capabilities. A set of boards would be plugged onto a single backplane to perform the functionality of a system. One of the boards was developed to allow system-specific logic to reside on the FPGA to coordinate the activities of the other boards in the system.
- My first task was to develop a software process that met the stringent requirements of 10CFR50 Appendix B - the defining document for NRC product approval. I was able to draft a set of documents before the project was put on hold.
- During the early stages of design and development of the ALS suite, an engineering tool was developed to help the engineers diagnose issues with the FPGA logic. I was tasked to restructure and enhance the tool to allow both the product and test engineers insightful access to the board-under-test. Most of that effort was providing the translation of data from raw bit sets to human-readable views. Other development aspects included a more robust calibration procedure for the analog circuits and a common look-and-feel for testing each ALS board type.
- The Diverse Actuation System, one of the first systems to use the ALS platform as a basis for its design, was being crafted at CS Innovations. I joined the team in order to provide them with a test and maintenance user interface for the ALS boards in the system. I worked alongside the system engineers of the project to define the requirements for the application. After I had designed and developed the lion's share of the software, I helped the system engineering team formulate system level requirements, define the logic sequence for the custom portion of the ALS, and drafted cable drawings. This work culminated in a demonstration to our customer early in 2011.
- The ALS test team was having difficulty tracing functionality through the requirements, design, and implementation of each ALS board. I was approached to identify how to perform formal requirements traceability to aide the test team in their task. After educating upper level management the need for a Requirements Management Tool, I identified a system that would work well for the size of the subsidiary.
- 10CFR50 Appendix B is a lot more stringent than I expected. In such an environment, by necessity, all activities should be explicitly defined in a policy, procedure, or checklist. Leave very little to the whim of the engineer when it comes to creating formal work product.
- Re-engineering another's copy/paste source code makes for an uneventful pastime.
- There needs to be more books like Effective C++; it's important to understand the underlying compiler methodology in order to write efficient code.
- The ALS system is the first of its kind to replace 40 year old technology used for nuclear safety systems.
- There are more initial sales of the AP1000™ nuclear power plant to foreign utilities - most of them in China.
- C++/MFC User Interface Development
- Hardware Verification & Validation
- Requirements Development
Notice: images acquired from public web sites.