Optical/IP Networks

Optical Team Seeks Group Gig

At least 50 engineers laid off by Lucent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: LU) last month are looking to move on -- as a group.

"We're looking for a company that needs a complete R&D team to develop optical networking products," says Trey Weaver, former director of Lucent's R&D facility in Research Triangle Park (RTP), N.C. "We've got every conceiveable kind of expertise -- software, hardware, firmware, optics, real-time OSs, you name it."

On the downside, Weaver says the group does not have ASIC (Application Specific Integrated Circuit) development experience.

Weaver, 47, opted for Lucent's early retirement package back in July 2001, just before the company closed its doors in RTP. Since then, he's been juggling his own consulting business with keeping an eye out for possible group opportunities.

He says at least 50 and possibly as many as 80 engineers would be interested in joining a startup or an established company seeking a ready-made team in RTP. "We'd love to help a big company start an optical facility here," he notes.

Other RTP employees of Lucent, who've been given 60 days' notice, say they're ready to go. "We were a cohesive unit," says technical staffer Mark Reeves, whose expertise lies in embedded firmware and device drivers. "A lot of good, talented people would definitely be willing to work together again."

"Trey helped put together a good group. We enjoy our work and would like to stay together," says Rex Carroll, a 20-year Lucent veteran with optical software expertise.

Lucent says it notified roughly 100 RTP employees in August that the company would be closing the facility, which was opened about two-and-a-half years ago to develop low-end DWDM equipment. According to Lucent, an undisclosed number of employees were given the option to relocate to Lucent facilities in Cary, N.C. Lucent does not have any other RTP facilities.

The team developed two products during its tenure and was working on another when it got the closure notice. One product, a 400-Gbit/s platform called AllMetro, was discontinued when Lucent purchased Chromatis in 2000. (Subsequently, Chromatis was closed -- see Lucent Ditches Chromatis.) A second product, Metropolis MLS, a 50-Gbit/s DWDM metro access box, was never officially released and has hit the "rationalized" list. But Lucent says its technology will be incorporated into future versions of the company's Metropolis Enhanced Optical Networking (EON) DWDM systems.

Weaver and his fellow ex-Lucenters say the present job market in RTP is tight, even though a good number of optical networking companies have facilities there, including Alcatel SA (NYSE: ALA; Paris: CGEP:PA), Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), Nortel Networks Corp. (NYSE/Toronto: NT), ONI Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: ONIS), and Redback Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: RBAK) -- as well as startups Caspian Networks and OptXCon Inc.

"The big companies have had huge layoffs, and ONI is primarily doing software here," says Weaver. Startups already are fully staffed. And according to Mark Reeves, candidates can expect to compete with at least 100 others for every job opening.

Weaver says he hasn't gotten any direct leads from companies seeking to put together a team. But he welcomes any input. He can be reached via email at [email protected]— Mary Jander, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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