Something is missing for design engineers

Electronic design engineers are facing greater pressure than ever before to rapidly create new electronic solutions. Faced with a bewildering array of increasingly more complicated electronic components, diminishing design budgets, and enigmatic legal and regulatory requirements, many electronic designers rely on their peers, manufacturers, and distributors to keep them informed of new products, design tools, and product acceptance. However, during the last few years, the technical service and support organizations of those same manufacturers and distributors have suffered from tighter budgets and reduced headcount, leaving design engineers increasingly dependent on the web for design support.

With less personal service and technical support for all but the largest engineering departments, many web sites rich in engineering articles and product evaluations have garnered significant traffic. A number of electronic component manufacturer and distributor web sites have added a variety of web tools, inexpensive design kits, and free product samples. Of course, much of the support from manufacturers and distributors comes with an obvious bias to motivate the designer to “use my product” or “buy from me.” Despite the overall excellent quality of these tools, articles, selection guides, reference designs, block diagrams, and simulators, they typically confine the electronic designer to the selection of a particular manufacturer's product. Designers are often resigned to a design decision justified by expediency, rather than an informed evaluation of multiple options.

Even with the breadth and depth of useful information for design engineers, there's still something missing. Call it the peer review or water cooler talk, but the value of collaborating and communicating with trusted colleagues remains one of the most meaningful sources. Others include blogs, video content, and community sites. With many of these products of the new design age, the engineer can have a meaningful interaction with other designers, access to rich content, and an unbiased selection of leading edge electronic design alternatives.

About the author
Jeff Hamilton is the director of marketing for design engineering at Newark Electronics. He's worked with manufacturers and distributors of semiconductors and wireless equipment, leading wireless chipset development and high performance wireless equipment. Jeff is currently working with a various suppliers serving the electronic design engineer with an emphasis on tools and systems that enable greater engineering productivity.

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