Nikolay Momchev

MEng Electrical and Electronics Engineering, 2019

Why did you choose to study at the University of Edinburgh?

I was interested in the elective subjects (bioelectronics) and in general had heard good things about the University.

What path has your career taken since graduation?

I did several internships with Allegro MicroSystems where I did analogue design. It was interesting and I could use everything from my studies but I decided to move back to Bulgaria so I couldn't continue on that path. There I started some really interesting jobs: I worked for two years at Antelope Audio where I reverse engineered some of the most famous pieces of musical electronics.

I ended up disassembling actual pieces of history, tested, simulated and tried to approximate their behavior for audio processing. This really helped me make the change from electronics to software.

My analogue background was very useful for figuring out how the analogue audio processing worked as I learned the software skills to emulate it. Digital signal processing (DSP) courses helped a lot here as well.

I then switched to a completely software company in the same domain: Smule. Here my electronics wasn't that useful but the audio processing and DSP to some extent are still quite relevant.

What is your current role?

I am a Python Engineer at Smule which is a karaoke app. My main focus is on music information retrieval topics in the company which is essentially using DSP and machine learning (ML) on music (audio, lyrics, metadata) to get data that can be used by the company or the users.

Typically what I do is go over any alerts or dashboards and make sure everything runs fine. I would spend time on improving a specific process (make it run faster, more accurately, or with less errors) or improve the development setup (tests, containers). This could involve reading papers, trying things out, going over logs and lots of meetings.

What experiences do you feel helped you get to your current position?

The most difficult part was switching from electronics to software. Finding a job that required both software and hardware knowledge and then switching to a software one based in the same domain (audio) made it a lot easier.

I did spend time on Coursera to improve my coding and learn some machine learning fundamentals.

How have you used the skills and/or knowledge developed during your degree in your career?

I've been using anything I learned in DSP courses and programming as a base for figuring out audio processing and machine learning. Both analogue and digital electronics were very useful in reverse engineering electronics and teaching me how to think on difficult problems.

Did you do any work experience while you were a student at the University of Edinburgh, and if so how did it help you in determining the field you wanted to pursue professionally?

I did an MEng placement, summer internship, part-time job and work shadowing. These experiences helped me find out that I would enjoy electronics but unfortunately I couldn't pursue that due to other reasons.

Can you tell us of any personal or professional achievements in your career so far?

One of the software plugins I made based on a hardware device was nominated for best plug-in of the year (didn't win though).

If you could offer some advice to prospective and current students what would it be?

I wish I had done more exchanges, trips and internships in a different city or country while at university.