“You cannot mandate productivity, you must provide the tools to let people become their best.” ― Steve Jobs
That is some great advice, from a leader in the industry. I would expound on his thought, that it really doesn’t matter how qualified an individual is. They could have gone to the best schools got the best degrees possible. IF… they do not have the correct tools to do the job. The result is an absolute travesty for the company and for the individual. Understand that I not saying education is unnecessary, but rather the education and tools that are used go hand in hand. For example, a trained woodcarver that can-do beautiful pieces of art would have a difficulty time if his only tool in his tool box was a rusty straight screwdriver and a hammer. The correct tools in the hands of a master the possibilities are endless.
There are specific tools and software packages available to support the PCB Data Management area. I will not mince words. The best tool that I have found, after decades of working in this field, for PCB design side is clearly Altium Designer.
Since 1985 (when they were known as Protel), Altium has been the leader in the PCB Software industry.
With a simple approach, of software development, they accomplished a unified platform which would hold all the required data to design any level of PCB whether it’s a simple 2-layer PCB or an advance HDI Design. What I call the Buffet approach to software. Providing various tools or plug-in modules that allows the designer to pick and choose what is needed on their specific system. This was brought about in 2004 when they developed their own software platform called Design Explorer (DXP). With that, Altium was able to independently develop whatever modules or tools were needed.
Also, with the many company acquisitions, the results have been remarkable growth. It would take more space than we have in this document to even try to describe the history of Altium and how much they have impacted this entire industry. I have come to a major conclusion that everyone at Altium must be major fans of the work of Ralph Waldo Emerson they have fully taken to heart his quote “Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail”. Altium has done just that.
There is a huge need for PCB Data management with the ever-shifting paradigm of our entire industry. More than ever before we need to be proactive regarding those changes and be prepared by putting into place mechanisms to be the leader in the industry. With that state of constant change, I hope you take that as a rallying call not be disheartened or discouraged but rather as a challenge. A challenge to learn and study this special field of electronics.
I mentioned early on in this document regarding the quote from Creighton Abrams of “How do you eat an Elephant? One bite at a time. Always remember that. Now that we have taken this journey through this fantastic subject of PCB Data Management. We can now see that this really is a never-ending process. The further you go down the road the more that we see that there really is no finish line. That there is no end. To continue the analogy, with each bite of the Elephant it continues to grow.
So, what should we focus on? It is not what is still “Left” but rather what has been “Done”. Knowing that with what you hold in your hand, you will put it to good use and take the next step forward and actually “Do it”. It was once said “the smallest steps taken in the right direction is sometimes the biggest step of the journey. Tip Toe if you must but TAKE THE STEP. I hope as we walked through subject that it has spurred something inside that has given you the direction that was needed for you to determine next steps you need to do. Because really this knowledge is totally useless until it is put into practice and actually done. Understand you are not in this alone that there are leaders throughout this entire industry are completely willing to help and offer suggestions.
The story is told of one of the early missions of the Space Shuttle where they took a hive of bees to see what the effects of weightlessness would have on them. The first day the bees flew around as normal, but the second day they began to realize that that they didn’t have to fly since they were floating everywhere. Couple days later all the bees had died. The only explanation that the biologist could give is that the bees were designed with a purpose to fly. When they weren’t fulfilling their purpose, they died.
What is our purpose as a PCB designer or engineer in this industry? Is it just to fill a cubicle or is there something more to all of this? I hope that your answer to answer is “YES there is”. I would also hope that you would know that purpose. I would add that. Above understanding your purpose, is to have a passion for this thing called Printed Circuit Design. For many this is not a career, but rather an absolute passion, that burns deep down inside of them. When you combine that purpose with a passion, then and only then will you see and realize your potential.
As being a devoted fan of Star Trek, I recall that famous line from Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country at the ending scene, as Captain Kirk is asked “the Course Heading Captain….” Captain Kirk thinks for a moment and replies. “Second Star to the Right and straight on till morning”. What does the future hold for our industry? Really not sure, but I do know that no matter what challenges and changes may occur, that we will face it as the talented people we are. That have taken up this profession and will face whatever we need to with a resolve, innovation and determination. Forging a constant path forward.
As a PCB Designer …. You are the Builder of Dreams. Realize your electronic designs with Altium, click to try the flagship product Altium Designer.
As an Engineer, you dream big. Equip yourself with the best PCB design software tools to build your dreams. With over 30 years of R&D, Altium Designer is the circuit board layout software that stays with you.