“Believe me, I’m sometimes amazed at everything Joeri can do!”
Which projects has Joeri worked on or is he currently working on?
Joeri works on passenger information (PI) systems for trains. These systems inform passengers about their journey, constantly updating them of the current location of the train, the next stops, possible delays, and even connections with other transport options at the station of their destination, all in real-time. All this can be seen on the TFT and LED screens designed and custom-made by Televic.
The accompanying audio system will also be used by train crews to communicate with each other or to make an announcement to all passengers. Televic’s systems are present on trains all around the world. Our customers are mainly train constructor and operators. Joeri has worked on a number of US projects for the train constructor Siemens USA. He started on the Phoenix2 project and meanwhile he also started on Phoenix1. Because of his accumulated expertise, he regularly jumps in to help with other projects.
Initially, there were some doubts whether someone with autism would be able to participate successfully in the testing department at Rails. How did Joeri manage to transform those initial doubts into your current conviction?
Since our customers often have different requirements, we have to be very flexible and creative with our solutions. This means that a very broad knowledge is needed to understand and structurally test a PI system. So, there was a steep learning curve to begin with, and on top of that, a lot of consultation with different parties is needed to bring the project to a successful conclusion. Therefore, as test engineers, we must be able to maintain an overview on a stand-alone basis and collect the correct information. That’s why there was a healthy suspicion as well as some ignorance as to whether someone with autism could thrive in our team.
Joeri certainly managed to surprise us and he’s really mastered the material. Of course, this required the typical coaching at the beginning, but as his project progressed, Joeri demonstrated that he could be a point of contact in terms of system knowledge about his project.
How does Televic as a company view the collaboration?
Joeri complements the team very well. His eye for detail and his constant accuracy are very valuable. If Joeri reviews something, he will always give valuable feedback that others often overlook. So, if you have Joeri test a system, you can rest assured that he will do so thoroughly. He is also very transparent about his work. It is very pleasant to have someone like that on your team.
In what areas has Joeri delivered a specific added value?
In our world, our customers often provide specifications that are difficult to read; these require a lot of concentration to read thoroughly. I often get requests from project leaders to have Joeri read a document. This always results in a list of points that will not be noticed by many people. Such thorough detection at an early stage provides a benefit that’s not to be underestimated. Many a little makes a mickle…
In addition, Joeri also has a strong sense of efficiency. Certain activities that need to be repeated are often error-prone, but Joeri responds to this by automating things. Joeri has created a System Software Package tool that has saved our team hours of work.
How has Joeri integrated into the team?
The team is very accepting of Joeri; they know that they can count on him. He does have more trouble speaking up in a group, but if he can help, he will always say so. Joeri is very flexible, for example, Joeri regularly subbed for colleagues during the holiday period.
What would you say to companies or decision-makers who have doubts about whether people with autism can participate in dynamic environments?
Just try it out; give them a chance and make your judgements afterwards. Their unique qualities are very valuable, especially in the world of testing. Automation is not always possible, meaning that people will have to do things manually. For many people, this is not always challenging and difficult to continue doing without losing concentration. These are precisely the aspects that people with ASD can complement. Believe me, I’m sometimes amazed at everything Yuri can do!
Finally, what does the job coach mean for you as SPOC in our cooperation and how is the contact with the job coach?
The job coach is trained to work with people with ASD. In the hustle and bustle of the job, we as colleagues sometimes forget that Joeri occasionally needs a different approach. I have a weekly meeting with the job coach, which is followed by a meeting between Joeri and the job coach. This takes about 15 minutes per week, which is often enough to discuss the ASD aspects. Job coach Hanne will always try to mediate, with regard to both Joeri and me. She sends me a weekly report. That way, we can respond to things very quickly and the cooperation continues to feel right for everyone involved.
Nick Vancauwenberghe (Teamlead QA Rail) and Joeri (Test engineer)