Shaper Engineer Jeremy Blum on Arduino and Building Consumer Products

October 8, 2019 Judy Warner

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Jeremy Blum is the Director of Engineering at Shaper, a start-up company that built the world's first handheld CNC technology for woodworking. Jeremy talks about his keynote speech at the AltiumLive PCB Design Summit on October 21 - 23 in Frankfurt, Germany. His talk is about product development and lifecycle management from a holistic approach to engineering and design. Learn about his engineering journey from master’s student at Cornell, to GoogleX through his latest engineering adventure launching a consumer-based product at Shaper.

Show Highlights:

  • Shaper is a company in San Fransisco which makes hand-held robotic power tools. Jeremy is the Director of Engineering, overseeing the embedded software team and electrical engineering.
  • Before Shaper, he was at Google X for a few years where he worked on system architecture and electrical engineering as well as design projects for Google Glass. He first became involved with consumer electronics design at MakerBot Industries. 
  • His YouTube channel, where you can still see his uploads from as early as 2006, is very popular, and he has also written a textbook: Exploring Arduino, with the second, updated, full-color edition launching very soon.
  • Jeremy’s keynote for AltiumLive is titled: Holistic Product Design for Electrical Engineers​. He says his goal for this year’s keynote is to expand on the talk he gave at AltiumLive in 2018, which was about empathetic engineering.
  • This year he will focus more on consumer products and the actual requirements of products working all around you, predominantly to make the process more fluid by meeting everyone’s needs.
  • The reality of product design is not as abstract as it’s often made out to be. In fact, it’s very different, and Jeremy will discuss requirements that are sometimes out of your control—where compromises must be made.
  • Jeremy’s inspiration for the keynote is his unique perspective from a smaller startup producing consumer products, and he’ll dive into the hands-on, full lifecycle of a product. 
  • It’s important to realize that despite the freely accessible tools today, there are still repercussions when IoT products aren’t reliable or useful; for example, security vulnerabilities in products used directly by consumers.
  • Communication with suppliers, vendors, and manufacturers is consistently one of the most difficult parts of the job. 
  • Meticulous documentation is essential and helpful when it comes to working with vendors in other countries, and it becomes necessary to be able to express disappointment without the buying power of a massive organization behind you.   
  • The burden of knowledge is real: after PCB West, Jeremy finds himself overthinking work as he learns new ways of doing things. 
  • Jeremy’s approach to self-education is that it is imperative. He attends conferences, reads industry magazines and websites (taking it all with a grain of salt).
  • There is no list of ‘rules of thumb’—they all have caveats. Take the time to ensure which rules apply to your situation, and understand the underlying physics.
  • Jeremy feels strongly that the value of attending AltiumLive is meeting experienced people and building relationships with those who are as enthusiastic and excited about what they do.


Links and Resources:

Jeremy Blum on LinkedIn
Jeremy’s YouTube Channel
Jeremy’s new book: Exploring Arduino
Jeremy on the OnTrack Podcast in Feb 2018


Learn, connect, and get inspired at AltiumLive 2019 in Frankfurt, Germany

About the Author

Judy Warner

Judy Warner has held a unique variety of roles in the electronics industry since 1984. She has a deep background in PCB Manufacturing, RF and Microwave PCBs and Contract Manufacturing with a focus on Mil/Aero applications in technical sales and marketing.

She has been a writer, contributor and journalist for several industry publications such as Microwave Journal, The PCB Magazine, The PCB Design Magazine, PDCF&A and IEEE Microwave Magazine and is an active member of multiple IPC Designers Council chapters.

In March 2017, Warner became the Director of Community Engagement for Altium and immediately launched Altium’s OnTrack Newsletter.
She led the launch of AltiumLive: Annual PCB Design Summit, a new and annual Altium User Conference.

Judy's passion is to provide resources, support and to advocate for PCB Designers around the world.

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