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52 DESIGN007 MAGAZINE I FEBRUARY 2020 Feature Interview by Barry Matties and Andy Shaughnessy I-CONNECT007 Andy Shaughnessy and Barry Matties recent- ly spoke with Alexander Löwer, a freelance de- sign engineer based in Germany, specializing mostly in EMC optimization. A self-described "project firefighter" called in to fix the direst of design situations, Alex discusses some of the EMC issues he sees and why properly de- signed differential pairs and power distribution networks and can help preclude EMI problems later. Andy Shaughnessy: Alexander, start off with a little background about yourself. How did you get into electronics? Alexander Löwer: My physics teacher got me in- terested in electronics back in high school. I went to university and studied classical electri- cal engineering. After graduation, I started to work in a small company, mostly with ASICs. I found that instead of working on something that is the size of a thumbnail, it's much more satisfying to work with something larger, so I went into PCBs. The company I had worked for was not much into PCBs, which meant I had to find something else. A friend of mine was self-em- ployed as a freelance engineer. He introduced me to the concept of freelancing, and I ended up where I am now, as a one-man fire brigade. It usually goes like this. A customer comes to me and says, "Alex, something isn't working." That's about all the information I get, paired with a date when "it" has to work. Speaking of firefighting, they tend to contact me once something has already gone wrong. Then, I have to find a solution to their problems that is feasible for the company. It heavily depends on the options left in the project and the state of the product. Sometimes, it's too late, or the customer has to make a tough decision, but I usually come up with a solution that satisfies them. Shaughnessy: You're an electrical engineer by education. What's your specialty? Löwer: My favorite area is EMC optimization. Of course, I work in other areas as well, es- pecially as companies are having a hard time finding engineers. My other sweet spots are schematic and layout optimization and the EMI Challenges: A Contract Designer's Take Alexander Löwer

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