Tag Archives: Engineer

If You Help an FAE…

In response to MarkAtMicrochip’s post about going down the rabbit hole that is helping FAEs. My story comes from the other side of the spectrum, a factory apps guy helping a field apps engineer. It’s definitely one-sided, biased, and not at all constructive but without further ado…

If you help an FAE

He’ll want you to provide a slew of measurements

If you send him off a the data

He’ll want to test the specs himself

If he goes off and tests the specs

When he’s finished

He’ll ask you some questions

That of course need answers yesterday because else the part won’t sell

When he gets your answers

He’ll notice the part suddenly doesn’t seem so competitive anymore

So he’ll probably ask you to bend the spec.

When he’s finished asking you to change the spec (again), he’ll need more input from marketing

He’ll start emailing

He might get carried away and promise things like pulling in schedules and higher sales

He might even demand a silicon spin

When he’s done, he might even want to change the specs again!

You’ll have to CYA in the email thread with talk of ways this will actually blow out the schedule and any potential issues that could arise

He’ll dig in, and demand some measurements you’ve already given him (twice)

He’ll probably tell you a story of being designed out

So you’ll spend days in the lab sweating and swearing and redesigning the circuit so it’s on the bleeding edge

When he sees the circuit he’ll get so excited he’ll want to show it to the customer. He’ll ask if you can reduce the BOM costs again though while still improving margin.

He’ll travel to the customer and test alongside them

In a lab

Then they’ll have trouble reproducing your results

Which means they’ll need

A detailed How To

He’ll take the detailed How To and throw it in recycling

When the board doesn’t quite work just right

He’ll have to try to troubleshoot it

He’s failed at this in the past!

So…

He does his “best” to make it work but it’s not his specialty

And chances are he can’t find time to finish the job

So he’s going to want you to help him.

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Surgeon – My Fallback Career

So I was knuckle deep in a crazy board rework today at work trying to fit a 1206 cap where it didn’t belong because it was left off the schematic and consequently the layout. About halfway through I realized that the rework I was performing required a pretty steady hand, like I imagined a surgeon would need. I chuckled to myself and tweeted that if being an EE didn’t work out I was going to become a surgeon as all the reworks I’ve done over the years count as practice.

Satisfied with my wittiness I pocketed my phone and continued on modifying the board. That would be the end of the story if my brain would ever let anything go. Instead I kept thinking about surgery the rest of the day and realized that actually, EEs are quite a bit like surgeons when you think about it.

  • Operating Room & Table = Lab & Bench
  • Scalpel = X-acto Knife
  •  Heart Rate Monitor, O2 Monitor, etc. = Oscilloscopes, Multi-meters, etc.
  • Cauterization Tool = Soldering Iron
  • Nurses = Techs
  • Tweezers, Hemostats, Cotton Swabs = Tweezers, Hemostats, Cotton Swaps
  • Isopropyl Alcohol, Antiseptics = Isopropyl Alcohol, Board Cleaners
  • Anesthesia = Flux (Just makes the whole process a lot smoother)
  • Microscopic Surgery = Soldering & Scrapping under a microscope
  • Defibrillator = ESD Gun
  • Too much caffeine makes operating harder = ditto
  • Sinus Rhythm = Steady State Response

So I guess all that’s separating me from becoming a surgeon is jargon am I right?


State of the Fake EE Union

Well hello there. It certainly has been a while since I’ve posted. Sorry about that, between the holidays and submitting a draft of my thesis to my adviser before Christmas I was running around with my head cut off and couldn’t seem to find the time to write anything. Just to keep everyone updated and what not here’s a couple of noteworthy news items:

1) Back on December, 20 I had an article published over on Engineer Blogs about the differences between school and work. Chris and the other EB writers were kind enough to offer me a spot guest writing for their site after I submitted the piece for their consideration. For the time being I will be submitting stories to EB for your enjoyment on a part-time basis and will work up to one day joining the team as a full-time author.

2) Though I’m writing for Engineer Blogs on occasion I will still be posting content here to this blog when I get a chance too. Fake EE Quips will stay more technical in nature (circuits, app notes, etc.) while any stories that I feel relate to engineering as a whole I will publish on EB. I’m currently trying to get a post out here before the new year so be on the lookout that in the next day or so (it’s about Jim Williams and a crazy op-amp trick). I’ve also got some more ideas bouncing around in my head but my lack of a home lab makes it difficult to prototype and test circuits. Hoping to acquire a scope and power supply in the new year but we’ll see…

3) The Amp Hour Bingo will be getting some updates in order to make it easier to win and more fun to play. For those of you who play along like I do I’m sure you’ve noticed it’s basically impossible to BINGO while listening to the podcast. As far as I know I’m the only one who has gotten a BINGO and it’s only happened once. Roel and I brainstormed a bit and came up with a way to place the tiles more efficiently so the most common aspects of The Amp Hour are always used when a board is generated and the rest serve as filler. Other features to add were also discussed including saving a board and posting results Twitter. I don’t know when exactly these changes will be put into place since I’m dead weight when it comes to coding but when Roel finishes them I’ll be sure to make it known.

So yeah, that’s what I’ve got for you at the moment. Thanks for checking out the site and reading my posts over these last 8 months or so. It’s been a lot of fun so far and I plan to keep writing in 2012 and longer assuming the world doesn’t end next December. Once my thesis is finally wrapped up I can even post on a more frequent basis too!

Happy New Year,

Carmen


Expanding the Analog Geek’s Toolkit

So I spent the other weekend in Washington, D.C. visiting a friend for his birthday. While I was waiting for my plane to take off in RDU Alan over at Tektronix was kind enough to provide me with some pre-flight entertainment. Back in 1987, Alan assembled The Ultimate Analog Engineer’s Toolkit designed to provide solace to engineers dealing with such problems as noise, the Miller Effect, and management, among other things. My personal favorites were the box of dBs (positive and negative flavors of course) and the Parasitic Pesticide. I tried to order some samples directly from Alan himself but he said his stock has run dry. I hope he can get another shipment delivered in time for the holiday season.

Anyways, as I was sitting in the terminal after reading it and I started to come up with a few additions to the toolkit and I present them to you here.

The Low Flow Current Adapter – We’re all familiar with the low flow shower heads installed in bathrooms nationwide to reduce water consumption. The Low Flow Current Adapter works in much the same way only on current instead of H2O. Plug this bad boy in between the power source and your circuit and watch as your product’s power consumption plummets before your very eyes.

Frequency Shaper Tool – Sometimes designs run over budget and when this happens you can’t always afford the box of high quality dBs needed to make a circuit meet the required specs placing a lot of “hertz” on you the designer. This is where the patented Frequency Shaper Tool comes in handy. While not as precise as a Box of dBs its low cost and reliable performance makes it ideal for the engineer on a budget. The Shaper allows a designer to grab a hold of an amplifier or filter’s frequency response and bend it to the desired shape. Need to nudge a zero in the stop band? Squeeze just a little more rolloff out of a filter? Reach for the Frequency Shaper and bend a transfer function into submission.

DocuGel – Come across an old PCB, product, or IC and have no idea what it does or how to use it? Did someone who’s clearly not as bright as you are forget to document their work and now the burden to upgrade the device is on you? Spread some DocuGel on the offending product and leave it sit overnight on your bench. Return the next morning and find datasheets, BOMs, gerber files, and schematics laying on your bench!

Grounding Stakes- Nasty PCB layout causing you problems? Is your circuit’s performance suffering at the hands of ground refusing to sit at 0V? Pound a ground stake into an open portion of your board and watch your problems disappear. Let your circuit know you only accept 0V, no more, no less.

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