Design007 Magazine

Design007-Nov2019

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NOVEMBER 2019 I DESIGN007 MAGAZINE 31 sors to autonomous driving, electric engines, creature comforts in the cabin, monitoring and measurement under the hood, and everything in between. There's such a myriad of cool elec- tronics going on in automobiles, and it is fun to be a part of it. Shaughnessy: It's a good time to be in the industry. A lot of people don't even know this industry exists. Stevenson: That's the truth. When I started out of college, it was a job, but now it's a whole industry and career. Shaughnessy: Are you a chemist? Stevenson: I am. My first degree was chemis- try, which is how I broke into the PCB indus- try. After about three years of keeping all of the chemical processes stable, I went back to school and got my chemical engineering degree. Then, I moved into the engineering realm of PCB manufacturing (process, materi- als, and quality). After several years there, it was time to go back to school again, where I moved to "the dark side" away from science and toward the business side with an M.B.A. Shaughnessy: What do you see going forward? Do you have any predictions on where we're going in the next three to five years? Stevenson: I don't know if three to five years is the right timeframe for it, but from what I see in the news, graphene seems to have a leg up as a potential replacement to copper for circuit boards. The chemist and engineer in me wants to dig in and figure out how to make that work, but I am sure there are already hundreds of smart people that are way ahead of me. Shaughnessy: We see graphene news every couple of days. Stevenson: It seems like graphene has that type of potential. It's probably too expensive and cost-prohibitive at this point to replace copper, but I think it will get there eventually. Shaughnessy: Sunstone is in a good spot because you have a design tool, which is pretty cool. People can use it and get PCBs and Ger- bers out of it. Stevenson: PCB123 opens up electrical engi- neering to the hobbyist if you will; it's a free tool that is powerful and allows you to do some pretty complex designs if your heart desires. It also takes the guesswork out of ordering PCBs and is nicely integrated. Shaughnessy: We see more and more of these free or cheap tools, like KiCAD and some of these things, and people swear that they're good. Stevenson: It's funny that you say that. Recently, I did a blind study where I took every free or almost free tool that I could find avail- able to download and gave them all a try. I'm not a designer by any stretch, but as a novice, I took each of those tools (15 in all) and tried to replicate an existing schematic. I found that some tools were intuitive and easy to pick up; their parts library was great, and I was able to do it pretty quickly. With other tools, the parts editor frustrated me. It's pretty amazing what some of these new tools can do, though, and they keep coming out. But for me, if the parts creation was too cumbersome, I gave up and moved onto the next tool. People are busy and don't have a lot of time to invest in a tool. Shaughnessy: Some of them look like they were created by college kids that came up with a tool that can design a few layers. Stevenson: Exactly. Software is going to be the wave of the future in a lot of aspects. Even in manufacturing, people are going to utilize software a lot more to make smart factories as efficient as possible. Shaughnessy: Thanks for your time, Matt. Stevenson: Thank you, Andy. DESIGN007

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