There Goes The Neighborhood | Cypress Semiconductor
There Goes The Neighborhood
October 25, 2010
According to Electronic Design I have become an analog expert.
Go figure! Bob Higbee has forgotten more about analog than I ever knew. I never started out to be an analog designer. I just wanted to build stuff and solve problems. While in college I made sure to take digital, analog, power, motors, and a lot of applied math. I took classes with the EEs, CEs, and PwoerGuys. I am grateful that I learned Boolean algebra from the Philosophy department and linear programming from the industrial engineering school taught me how to think like an engineer.
My first job as a COOP student at NASA was to design a fume hood for a 4-megawatt hydrogen arc jet. Hydrogen is perfectly save, even at 27,000 degree Fahrenheit as long as it isn’t exposed to air. My job was to design a hood that would collect any escaping hydrogen. You cannot imagine how beautiful plasma looks as it passes at Mach 6 over a leading edge of a heat shield. It is bright red on one side of the shear line and bright orange on the other. In 1978 I took on an assignment to program a micro-controller (Mostek 3870) because I wanted to learn about micro-controllers.
Being open to “not knowing want I am doing” has allowed me to learn a lot of interesting skills. Low noise analog skills transfer well to EMI suppression. The math for digital signal processing isn’t that much different Leplace transforms. Control theory sees a compensated op amp as a saturated integrator while the op amps designers think on them compensated very high proportional gains. State machine design is really just feedback theory. Delta Sigma Modulators are really just filters. Delta modulators are close to ADPCM. Both are really close to slew rate-limited filters. Tank circuits for power supplies are a lot like the laser tanks you get with two correctly spaced mirrors. Right now I see a lot of similarities between Net Promoter Scores and Statistical Quality Control from the 70s.
Each group has their own bag of tricks and I have borrowed from many a bag.
A really big bag of tricks and a fundamental understanding of engineering principles will allow you to solve most any problem you are assigned. In fact you might even do better than the specialists because you don’t know what can’t possibly work and stumble on a new solution.