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72 DESIGN007 MAGAZINE I MAY 2022 old Unix networking tasks and the shell scripts I started writing certainly benefitted from my eighth grade typing class. Eventually I moved into management positions, which required writing reports and procedures, followed by a time of providing customer support for a PCB CAD company through emails and white papers. Now I am employed as a writer cover- ing various technical subjects and clients. As I said, who knew? I can tell you, though, I am certainly thankful that I took that class. My point is to prepare yourself for the career ahead of you. I was very fortunate that one random decision I made a very long time ago ended up being so helpful to my career, and by extension, to my life. However, if we were to entrust our entire future solely on the hope- ful benefits of random choices, we would more than likely end up with a disaster on our hands. erefore, it is important to make some informed choices when it comes to preparing for the future, so that we are ready for what the world of circuit board design will require of us. In that spirit, here are some ideas that can help. Education PCB designers are expected now to have a thorough background of engineering or tech- nical training and education, and that should be your first focus. Beyond that, additional classes, seminars, and workshops will help to broaden your overall knowledge, while train- ing in specific areas such as high-speed design are essential for most applications. It is also very helpful to obtain certification in different industrial standards. Experience ere is no denying that industry "experi- ence" is like the old expression: Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Potential employ- ers are looking for experience, and you must be employed to get the experience they are looking for. However, there are always unique employment solutions waiting where you don't expect, such as surprise job openings, related positions that allow you to work into a design position, etc. Keep looking and knock- ing on doors. One of my first jobs in PCB lay- out came because I persisted in my contact with a design shop. When they finally needed additional entry level help, I was the first one they turned to. Tool Savvy e more experience you have with different design tools, the better. Yes, you should focus on just a few to refine your skills as a designer, but it still is a good idea to keep up with oth- ers. You never know when your company may decide to swap out a tool set, you need to look for another job, or an incredible new opportu- nity suddenly presents itself. Aside from those, there is another reason why it is beneficial to understand different tools. Each CAD ven- dor takes a slightly different approach to the structure of PCB design data. By familiarizing yourself with these different approaches, you will have a better understanding overall of how CAD processes work. is can be very benefi- cial when someone is looking for a designer with a more global perspective on CAD tools to help migrate to a new system, or looking to improve their own process and workflow. Process e more you know about the process of printed circuit board design, fabrication, and assembly, the better. As a young designer I had no idea why I had to follow some of the requests that engineers made of me, but as I came to understand manufacturing processes and DFM requirements, it all started to come into focus. is greater understanding gave me the ability to design for the process instead of correcting my work to bring it up to meet the requirements. But don't stop just there; keep on exploring new technologies and pro- cesses. Explore flex manufacturing if you don't already understand it, and learn about differ- ent board materials for RF, high-temperature, or other harsh environments. Our industry is

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