Trending at Freedom CAD: New Crop of Next‐Gen Designers


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McCurdy: They have a huge population and they are educating an enormous number of engineers. They’re bringing these people into the design seats. The average age of the designer in China is substantially lower than it is here in the U.S.

In America, we have a whole bunch of baby boomers in front of the displays doing the designs. These are the 25‐ and 35‐year veterans of printed circuit design that started off laying tape and drafting from the industrial arts side of printed circuit design, that have adapted to the computers. The designer generation that’s coming up in China—they’re coming in as double Es.

That’s a benefit in terms of understanding electronics but they don’t have the years and years of practical experience. But hey, the clock is going to continue moving and they’re going to gain the experience over time.  

Matties: I think the case could be made that they don’t have the years of habit embedded into them.

McCurdy: That is true. At Freedom CAD, we are grooming a crop of 20‐somethings. We’ve been doing that for about three or four years now. We’re bringing in small groups of high‐aptitude, good attitude, want‐to‐learn, puzzle‐solvers. But they don’t all make it.

To start them off we’ve got a training program that brings them up. We’ve developed some solid designers in just a few short years as apprentice journeyman. We put them under the wing of somebody who wants to help to guide them along. They come in with no baggage. We’re developing that next generation of designers ourselves. We’re doing it here in the United States.

Matties: What trends do you see in product design?

FreedomCAD_booth.jpgMcCurdy: Density continues to march on and the biggest thing is high‐speed now. Controlled impedance, material choices, trace length matching; these things all come into play in so many of the designs that we do. That’s a big deal.  Our designers just don’t “connect the dots”.

Another trend from the CAD tool standpoint – For so many years designers said, “I hate autorouters.” I would go to designer council meetings and I say, “Hey, with a show of hands, how many people autoroute?” Out of 65 people in the room, maybe five designers would raise their hands.

The CAD vendors such as Mentor and Cadence finally started listening and developed much different routing tools for their latest upgrades.  It’s not just a matter of push the button, walk away, come back, and the board is done. They’re letting the designer have some say in how they direct the tool to provide guided routing automation.

For instance, Mentor Graphics has recently released in their latest version of Xpedition, a very interactive tool called “Sketch Router.” Cadence has similar types of solutions and I think that will change the 30‐year designer mentality of “I hate autorouting” to “Wow, this is a tool that will make me more productive with great results, saving me time and money.”

It’s good for our industry if we can level the playing field and keep from going overseas for the routing by doing it ourselves smartly with better tools.

Matties: Scott, thank you very much. I appreciate it! 

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