Customer Success Stories

Connecting with the Community

“We have Q&As at every meeting, and with Altium there, it really gives users the feeling that our voices are being heard.”

Kelly Wigington
Director, PCB Department
VPI Technology Group

Producing truly innovative, transformative software requires more than just great ideas—it takes the support of the user community providing continuous quality feedback to the development team, from the first release through each respective iteration.

More PCB designers worldwide choose Altium Designer than any other eCAD tool. One of the major reasons for that is the company's user-centric approach. Altium relies on its strong user base to consistently improve its PCB software.

Altium User Groups are self-organized groups of PCB designers and engineers located all over the world.

The User Groups give PCB designers the opportunity to learn from each other as well as connect directly with Altium staff, providing essential feedback as well as learn from each other and network in a relaxed, friendly atmosphere.

To cover the cost of the local user group meetings, Wigington's employer, VPI Technology Group, and Altium partner together to provide a suitable venue for the event and a nice luncheon for the attendees.

The Largest Altium User Group in North America

While there are Altium User Groups across multiple continents, the largest one in North America is located in Northern Utah.

The group is sponsored by VPI Technology group, a premier provider of engineering and PCB design services. Kelly Wigington, the director of the PCB design department, organizes and promotes the meetings.

Wigington’s deep love for the group shines through when he speaks about the group. “We’ve built a community that includes individual consultants, engineers at large companies and academics. These meetings are one of my favorite things to do; it’s great for the attendees of the different companies who get involved. The users can get out of the office, get a nice lunch and learn from each other, network and even find new job opportunities; for the sponsors, it’s great for marketing as well as to connect with engineers in a relaxed, fun environment.”

His employment with VPI gave him an inside advantage to get the group off the ground, but the techniques he uses can be implemented by anyone. As Wigington elaborates, “We had our first meeting on March 13, 2013, but it came after several years of effort. We were able to connect with Altium directly, and with the help of a partner company of ours, we were able to get 40 attendees to come to our first meeting.”

The format, even from the first meeting, included ample opportunities for users to express challenges and frustrations with different tools, as well as share tips and workarounds. Attendees network, mingle, learn and even enter in raffles for great prizes, ranging from participating company swag to Bluetooth speakers and Amazon Echo devices.

To cover the cost of the local user group meetings, Wigington's employer, VPI Technology Group, and Altium partner together to provide a suitable venue for the event and a nice luncheon for the attendees.

The value to the group has been almost immeasurable, particularly for users to connect directly with Altium.

“We have Q&As at every meeting, and with Altium there, it really gives users the feeling that our voices are being heard,” Wigington adds.

The feedback has been just as essential for Altium; user insight has guided multiple upgrades over the years, from flagship products to new platforms.

“Anyone can start up an Altium User Group. It just takes somebody with an interest. Companies often extend sponsorships and donate swag out of goodwill, but they get some great marketing out of it, and they get to connect with the PCB community first hand.”

Kelly Wigington
Director, PCB Department
VPI Technology Group

Creating the Perfect User Group

Over the years, attendance has only grown. Wigington has developed an organized, easy way to host the events biannually, using Eventbrite, an online event registration program, for registration. To cover the cost of the local user group meetings, Wigington's employer, VPI Technology Group and Altium partner together to provide a suitable venue for the event and a nice luncheon for the attendees.

Wigington has managed the group’s email list from its inception, reaching out to attendees via email 4-5 weeks in advance, keeping track of registrants and more on a spreadsheet. He follows up several times in the weeks leading up to the event, ensuring all registrants are still able to attend. To cover the costs of the local user group meetings, Wigington suggests that other local businesses, like fabrication and assembly shops, may also be willing to sponsor these events to help defray costs.

As he explains, “Anyone can start up an Altium User Group. It just takes somebody with an interest. Companies often extend sponsorships and donate swag out of goodwill, but they get some great marketing out of it, and they get to connect with the PCB community first hand.”

And ultimately, that’s what these groups are all about—making lasting connections to move the world of PCB design forward.

To learn more about creating your own Altium User Group, please visit:
https://resources.altium.com/p/altium-user-groups-starting-finding-and-joining