Design Engineering
Showcase 2021

NETGEAR

Tags
Wifi Networking
Cybersecurity
Web/App Development

Project Details

Student
Patty Lai
Team
SMB QA, Switch Security Team
Supervisor
Dr Nan Li
Role
Product & Software Quality Assurance Engineer Intern
Sector
Retail and Consumer Goods
Links
Email
NETGEAR Website
NETGEAR LinkedIn

“When the best WiFi is all that matters in our daily lives, NETGEAR® is the choice!”

NETGEAR is a global networking technology company based in California for over 25 years in 26 countries, pioneering in high-quality Switches, WiFi networking hardware, and management service software for business and households.

My expectations were to develop knowledge on cybersecurity and testing procedures of NETGEAR’s award-winning products which depend on impervious quality assurance efforts. As a QA Engineer intern, it cultivates my meticulousness and vigilance to comprehend the agile working of verification and maintenance of product and software before and after delivering to end-users.

Demonstration of Design Engineering Thinking and Skills

Although I have had the opportunity to explore various modalities in Design Engineering curriculum, my placement has allowed me to specialize in testing protocols and softwares to evaluate internet systems and broaden my knowledge base to previously unfamiliar aspects of Engineering. To participate in the backstages of unreleased products is an immense achievement for me as a QA, treating every operation as a new learning process aimed to find adequate solutions, through testings such as bug fix test and future-proofing 2nd source model. Unlike design engineering, the nature of QA work is systematic relative to the creative ideation design process. However, software QA engineers strive to solve issues by creating new test plans to innovate new versions, which encourages me to self-study, peer-coaching, and raising my problem-solving skills. Initially, I came in with basic knowledge of the networking industry with my foundation in computing, electronics, and data privacy in Design Engineering. It turned out my placement at NETGEAR helped me to see the whole picture of the engineering workflow process.

Mission and value
netgear goal

The market of networking products is fast-changing and ubiquitous due to trends of remote working and business transformation. NETGEAR aims to bring WiFi 6, 5G, PoE, and NAS technologies in a B2B environment. I collaborated with Product Engineers, App R&D in India, and US headquarters to upgrade and resolve software issues on: Unmanaged and Managed Switches, Plus and Smart Pro Gaming routers, Mesh WiFi products, the Network Management System and cloud-based platform(APP). Addressing ongoing technical errors that are unpredictable, strengthens my cohesive thinking to anticipate variance behaviours and execute network protocols.

netgear products

My responsibilities lay within creating test environments, test plans and scripts to evaluate new firmware, reporting results, resolving bugs, and making necessary adjustments based on each device. Due to rapid technological upgrades in the competitive market, I handle projects with short time cycles to make sure the new product versions meet the demand of ever-changing iterations. During my placement, I have studied many well-written test plans, and I plan to trial and develop test cases to improve the quality and performance of my upcoming projects.

The versatility of Design Engineering allows me to be involved in a variety of engineering processes including QA Engineer. I have built up specific knowledge on the PoE and L2 switching concepts, QA Server test cycles, ISO accreditation, and European General Data Protection Regulation. In this rigorous process, I was challenged to utilize a suite of technical skills and implemented over 18 software testing tools. The test plans I have implemented include applying Sifos PSA to test various power budgets, verifying the POE LED when reaching threshold power using Dummy Load, and forwarding traffic through Spirent Test Centre. For Sanity tests, 5 QA servers were used including Beta server, PRI/AUX QA, and Maintenance QA&Beta. For ensuring cybersecurity, OWASP ZAP, TFTPd64 and Plus Utility Tool are integrated penetration testing softwares to find vulnerabilities in web applications and Trivial File Transfer Protocol.

Role and Contributions

As a Product & Software Quality Assurance Engineer Intern in NETGEAR, I operated in the Switches and Powerline security division of the QA Department in its Taiwan Engineering Centre. My contribution has raised the efficiency that shortened task duration for QA operations and other departments. I recognized that while typical engineering projects center on creating tangible solutions for clearly defined problems under preset workflow, QA roles involve the ongoing efforts to address APP updates, firmware version upgrades and stay on track with customer issues that are unpredictable and ever-changing.

QA role
QA progress

Throughout my placement, I have carried out 6 types of test cases and maintenance tasks. Tested over 125 product models, upgraded over 43 firmware versions. As a result of these efforts, 23 bug issues have been identified and resolved for major client companies, including DNI, Broadcom, Realtek, Biamp, Foxconn, and Philips.

1. Power over Ethernet (PoE) Microcontroller Firmware Qualification:

A series of qualification tests to measure different protocols and power demands. The purpose was to ensure the Switches meet the specs based on IEEE AT/AF/BT standards, which are the classification of power sources. I cooperated with Product Engineers in developing the verification methods and test scripts for software features and conducted ethernet conformance tests and analysis data.

QA panel

2. Troubleshooting the INSIGHT APP:

An APP for managing and monitoring NETGEAR products from smartphone and web pages. The goal was to increase firmware performance and stability by the tests based on telecommunications interface standards. It is a precious experience to learn to integrate APP functions with network devices at the corporate level. I realized in real-life APP development, the enhancement of the intuitive design involves meticulous updates and UI/UX improvements to test on iOS TestFlight/AOS cloud portal applications.

3. jQuery Vulnerability Test and Security Verification on WebGUI:

Ever since a new firmware code is developed, I'm responsible for testing the web-based network management User Interface and every configuration on various model series and generating bug reports. After each WebGUI test, I generated reports for all features tested and forward to the next Regression test cycle, and also followed up Ethernet Security issue resolutions for ODM suppliers.

Netgear panel j Query

4. Security Bug Fix and New Feature Regression Test:

Aimed to ensure system security by preventing attacks under any changes and file transfer. I have simulated 3 types of penetration against the system: Firstly, a regression bug that made the system stop working; Secondly, a cyber attack that compromised the security system; Finally, a new feature bug that wasn’t encountered before. The testing results will be reported as the basis for the product engineers to further investigate and correct software bugs and deficiencies.

Netgear security

5. Short-term Projects:

Fan speed policy test was testing fan speed duty levels under different temperature and power parameters using the Tera term software.

In addition to test projects, we worked with our clients to troubleshoot their product application on our Switches, and resolved the root cause by simulating the test environment topology and developing solutions to meet clients’ requirements.

Orbi

Summary

My experience at NETGEAR was irreplaceable and nonetheless eye-opening. My advice to DE3 would be to experience what conventional academic programs cannot offer, and to have the mentality to challenge new fields of engineering. Take paths that are distinctive and explore the limits of innovation. For myself, it was unexpectedly enlightening to participate in such wide-ranging facets in a global scale of NETGEAR, as well as to traverse both expertise of quality assurance and design engineering.

Netgear summery photo