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44 DESIGN007 MAGAZINE I MAY 2020 Feature Interview by Andy Shaughnessy I-CONNECT007 Albert Gaines is the founder and senior de- sign at HiGain Design Services in metro Atlan- ta. I usually chat with Albert at SMTA Atlanta each spring, but with all trade shows canceled because of the COVID-19 outbreak, we decided to conduct a virtual interview. I asked Albert to discuss what fabricators and customers expect from a designer and vice ver- sa, and what can happen when expectations are not met. Much of this problem can be pre- cluded with good communication on all fronts. As Albert once told his kids, "They can't take away your birthday for asking." Andy Shaughnessy: I'm glad to hear you're do- ing well in this strange time, Albert. As a de- sign services provider, what do your custom- ers expect from you? Do you provide them a checklist at the beginning? Albert Gaines: Let me answer the last question first. When I opened HiGain Design Services, I did provide a checklist/questionnaire to my clients before starting a new project. I found I spent more time explaining the questions on the form than the information I received. I now have a phone call with the client to ask what their end-product is and then walk through my perceived requirements for the product that they are designing. Most of my clients do not know about a board's technology from a fabrication stand- point. They do not understand board classes, board finishes, or requirements and process- es of their fabrication/assembly teams. Their expectation from me is to fill in the gaps and provide a layout, including all the data for that board to be fabricated and assembled. They want a board ready for initial testing. Shaughnessy: How often do you have to edu- cate the customer about PCB design and man- ufacturing? Gaines: Most of my clients do not know what they do not know. That's fine; that is what I am here for. I have trained many engineers over the years. They have taught me a lot in return. We all need to be brave enough to ask questions. I used to tell our children that if you do not know, ask. I told them, "They can't take away your birthday for asking." I tell my clients that the only stupid question is the one not asked. We need more sharing of Albert Gaines: Fabricators Almost Expect Bad Data Albert Gaines

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