John Watson on Altium Enterprise Solutions Going Beyond PCB Design

Judy Warner
|  Created: June 5, 2018  |  Updated: February 5, 2021

John Watson and his team of 50 PCB designers at Legrand are beta partners in using Altium , the new Altium solution that takes Altium and pumps it up with a healthy dose of project management capabilities. Find out why John is more excited about Altium than Altium 18, and how he and his team have combat rogue libraries to tighten process and improve quality.

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Show Highlights:

    • Defining Your Design Process: What?, How?, Why?
    • 5 mil boards was once amazing but now… old news
    • Getting You Can Trust
    • Project Management in Altium - Streamlining and auditing processes
    • Increasing the reliability of the design.
    • LeGrand closes the loop - did we accomplish the why and what?
    • AltiumLive is where you rub shoulders with leaders in the industry; 2 days of great learning.
    • Passing the Torch - There is a concern that there are more jobs than there are designers.

    Links and Resources:

    Fundamentals of RF/Microwave PCBs

    Signal Integrity By Example

    PCB Design: Prototyping and the PCB Design Flow (National Instruments White Paper)


    Saturn PCB Design Tool

    Trade In Your Outdated PCB Design Tool & Unlock 45% OFF Altium today!

    Favourite White Papers

    Top 10 DFM Problems That Affect Every Design

    Adopting Signal Integrity In Your High Speed Design Process 

    Best PCB Design Books

    Printed Circuit Handbook by Coombs & Holden

    High Speed Digital Designs: A Handbook of Black Magic by Howard Johnson and Martin Graham


    Hi everyone this is Judy Warner with the OnTrack podcast. Thanks for joining us again. Today we are here at the La Jolla headquarters of Altium and I have with me, John Watson of Legrand and we're going to have a great talk today about, just design in general, and then some of his vast experience.

    Before we get going though, I'd like to invite you to connect with me on LinkedIn @AltiumJudy on Twitter and Altium is also on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. So if you are listening on the podcast be also aware that we record simultaneously on video. So, if you want to see our beautiful faces you can always tune into Altium's YouTube channel and click under videos, and you'll find that we are recording here in-office, which is a rare treat because we do this a lot on Skype.

    So John, welcome to the office.

    Thank you, thank you for having me. It's a pleasure being here.

    Yeah thanks for joining. So, why don't you start by sharing with our listeners and watchers about what you do at Legrand, and because you really have kind of a wide... you do a lot! I don't know how you do it, if you have any time at home ever?

    No, no I don't. No I'm the senior PCB engineer for Legrand, and we are a conglomerate of several divisions of what's called the building control systems and these divisions could basically go around the world; and in each one of these divisions we have designers, PCB designers and librarians and people who work on schematics and everything else. So I'm responsible for that, I'm the Administrator also, responsible for kind of mentoring them and training them, answering any other questions that they may have that come up. So we also then make sure that we constantly have the PCB designs that we're working on moving, flowing through there, so that's basically what I do.

    Well, what I thought we'd talk about today, based on our recent conversation is, you kind of drill down to sort of the basics of designs - now tell us about how many designers you have overall at Legrand?

    We have about 50 right now, 50 designers and a lot of those are, some of those are in Asia and the rest are in America here.

    Okay so you started talking yesterday or... yeah it was just yesterday, we spoke right?


    You kind of talked about what I will call the why, what, how and when.

    So, I thought that was an interesting way to sort of distill down the design process, but can you start talking us through that. Kind of start with the why and the what?

    Yeah, I think as designers we'd love to jump into the how, we'd love to: give me the schematic and let me dive into the PCB, let me start laying copper down.

    Yeah, but we never get back to taking a step and really what has brought this on has been your new system with your design processes and your design flow charts that you guys have created. It's really caused us as a company, to take a step back and ask, first off, ask the question: what are we doing? It may sound simplistic but what is a direction pointer, it's an objective, it's the goal that you put up there and a lot of times it's kind of skimmed over...

    In designing, because we want to get to the how, we want to get to - we want to get to the interactive routing part of this you know. And all the exciting tools that we can use and all this and that, but we never take a step back and determine are we pointed in the right direction?

    Are we accomplishing what we want to start with?

    So, and I would actually take what we do is, we actually take it a step further back and we ask why are we doing this?

    The why is the foundation, the why is the motivation of why we're doing this.

    Because what we have seen - what I've seen in PCB design - now I've been in this for about 20 years and what I've seen is that we actually, have different parameters - people look at PCB design differently. In the company, somebody for example the PCB looks at a design and he's looking at: okay, here's my schematic, here's my PCB, here's my trace routing and everything else, you know. The part procurement people; they're concerned about okay, is this part even available?

    How do we buy this part? How do we buy this component? How do we do this? Then you have upper-management who looks and says how quickly can we get this thing to market.

    That's their concern, they're not concerned about the routing. The, gets into the details and he's all, yeah look at that I'm doing the... doing differential pairs!

    Yeah whatever, when do I get it back? [laughter]

    Exactly, the upper management people, they're actually sitting there going, oh we really don't care. Does it work? When can we get this to market? I've had been asked that question several times by Vice Presidents of companies and things like that, and you say in interviews, they go: we have such a terrible lead time in our designs from concept to market and by the time we get this whole thing through the process we're gone... the market is gone.

    So, one of their major concerns is, how do we speed this whole process up?

    And one of the things that I've always pushed on, is the best way to do that, and accomplish it is, first off, know why you're doing something. What are you doing that gets you pointed in the right direction and how are you gonna do it?

    And that then brings in how. And once you get that established, then you can start talking about how we're gonna do this.

    And what tools we're going to use and those things are not major in any way just sit down, in one sentence, what do you do?

    Right. Because I think, what struck me when you said that it's like well, yeah of course but sometimes we breeze over that because we're all making assumptions but I think, what you're saying is, five different people could be making five different assumptions and they're assuming they're all on the same page.

    Right, exactly.

    So unless you spell that out up front...

    You're right.

    -And the direction is clear, it can get messy real quick.

    Right, and as I said, what has really brought this on has been the system.

    So, I should mention to our listeners and watchers that, John and Legrand were part of our Beta group for a long time, so they have been really instrumental in working with us giving us great feedback and also really showing us, instructing us, as much as we're instructing you I think.

    Oh yeah.

    It's been a real strong partnership, so he's way down the road from most people that are just starting to onboard now.

    So we're very excited - I'm actually more excited about than I am Altium 18, and Altium 18 I tell you, you guys knocked it out of the park. I'm actually more excited about because this, this is beyond PCB design, you guys have taken this now beyond the PCB. You've taken it into the Project Management area. You've taken this whole design process, and I have project managers now, that have seen the system and they go: we can use that, we can use that process. The project managers now can look at the process, see whatever area that they're concerned with, they can now look at that process and understand where it's at. So you guys have now taken the whole PCB design process and kind of put it on it's head and you, you've caused me at least, to rethink this whole process.

    Which is really exciting to hear from somebody who's been laying out boards and even instructing other people how to lay out boards for 20 years.


    So that's exciting to hear.

    It's very exciting, but I think this would work in any situation to understand what you're doing and how you're going to do it, and having a clear plan is going to be vital. Especially with the environment we live in today, I mean especially with the whole electronic industry and where it's headed.

    Yeah well, it's gotten so complex that it's hard to get your head around it sometimes.

    Oh it is always...

    I mean,  and any one part of that, the design process is incredibly complex, the manufacturing, sourcing is incredibly complex and shifting all the time, and nothing's static.

    Right so it's like you're shooting at a target that's moving all the time, and you're trying to get you know... what do you call that - a bull's-eye.

    Right, exactly I remember, several years ago, about four or five years ago, when I was sitting at PCB West and people were amazed about how they were now going to be able to do five mill traces on boards!

    You know, and it was supposed to...people were gasping, oh that's amazing you know?

    And now that's old technology. Think about that.

    It's just stunning.

    It is, it’s absolutely stunning, but it tells you, it tells you not where we've been, but where we're heading. What's the industry going to look like in five more years? What's the industry going to look like in ten years, and it's exciting, it's an exciting time to be a part of this.

    I agree it is an exciting time and I think that those of us in the electronics industry that’s part of what motivates us is, is the excitement right?

    Yes exactly.

    And being on that forefront like seeing what is next right, and what can we do. Yesterday you talked to us about the Item Manager, would you touch on that slightly and how that sort of impacted your own design process?

    Yes, one of the important for us was when I first started at Legrand, we had various designers who were using various libraries but the bigger the organization the worst that can be.

    The harder it is right, it becomes much, much more difficult the bigger a company becomes. But it also brings in a lot of risk with the PCB design, when what I would call 'rogue libraries' are used and you know when someone creates their own or things like that - and we had a lot of libraries...

    Like how many, how many designers how many libraries we talking about?

    We had about, at that time, we had probably thirty designers and we probably had over 900 libraries that were total and our set and Item Manager is a great tool that you guys have placed into Altium, that allows me to look at a design, and look at the sourcing for those for those individual components and what it does, is it identifies whether a part is what you guys call managed or unmanaged.

    So a managed part would be an example of a part that is under the system. We specifically use the system.

    And what it does is, it tells me where the part came from, whether it's managed or unmanaged first off, and where it came from. And then, if that part is managed, it then tells me what the life cycle is. It tells me if there's been updates done on the part, or whether there's new a new part for that in the so it will say that the part is out of date or needs to be updated.


    Okay so, and then you simply go through a small process to update those components in that design. But we use it a lot too when we are bringing in a new design and we're comparing it and we're starting with the design review process, we want to know where those came from.

    So that's our first question, is we say, ok where are these from? So it tells us managed and unmanaged. And then we want to know, if those are managed, are they up to date with our system?

    So then we use that a lot - the item manager is probably one of the biggest tools we use, because that tells us exactly where the design is at.

    So you're ensuring them that you have the most current revision of any given part, at any time so that's what you said kind of like the risk mitigation or increasing the reliability right of the design?


    Before you actually make the board?

    You don't want to get to that point. Yeah I was saying yesterday about, we've all been in this industry any period of time. You've put all the work into a fabrication and you play your part down and you get everything nice and shiny and everything else and then you create your Gerber set and you send it out to a fab house and the fab house builds the boards you know. Then they go over to the assembly house, and you're sitting there and your phone starts ringing like, I'm sorry but the part that you gave us doesn't fit on your board okay, and you have to make that, what I call the long walk to the manager's office, where he then has to toe it you know, you just have to tell him: excuse me but we just spent so much money on this project we spent three months on this, and we have... it's the boards are useless we can't build the boards and we've all been there I mean...

    It happens to everyone and that speaks not to the ineptitude of the but the complexity of the process and the craziness of managing component libraries and keeping that up to date because the data is fluid and rolling all the time, and are coming in and out of the supply chain and it's a very difficult thing to track.

    It's a very difficult thing to track, but what we try to do is where there are steps that can be taken to definitely lower the risk of that situation.

    So you told a story yesterday which made me laugh but also, made me gasp at the same time. So why don't you - you know what I'm talking about right, about the weekend - so why don't you share that story, and sort of what got you to that place of, coming from a place when you had all those designers and hundreds of libraries, and discovering that when you did a root cause analysis that most of the problems were either from footprint problems or component problems and then you did what about it?

    Well what we did was you know this, I'm the sort of person as you know, it's a little thing called baptism of fire I guess we'll call it, but we had so many libraries in our system and people were using their own libraries and different tools that they had developed. I mean, they were setting up their own things so we had about over 1,200 libraries at that time, and when we ran things through the Item Manager, we would see 'Joe's .' Well, Joe we need to have a chat. Yeah Joe, that's not going to work anymore. I mean, we need to because we had to centralize, that was the biggest problem, we had people that had rogue libraries and they were causing problems, failures, they were costing the company money.

    Right, which back to your point is when the manager’s agenda is to say; if we miss our window time-to-market heads will roll okay, so you drilled down and said: okay what's causing that?


    And you're like... rogue libraries?

    Rogue libraries, and what we did was after work on a Friday evening after everyone had left I basically went in and deleted all the libraries, so that was an interesting Monday morning.

    I would've liked to be a fly on the wall that Monday morning did you show up for work on Monday?

    Yes I did, because I was going to be there because basically it had to be done. The integrity of a PCB design which means that we try to put out the highest quality board that we can put out the very first time - we don't have time to do four, five, six spins of this the very first time, how do we have a high integrity board? Well number one is our libraries - I want all designers pulling a single part from a single, that has a single footprint, a single sourcing and everything was in line and everything was correct, and that was how we began to basically rebuild our libraries.

    Right, and that is, at that time is that when you were onboarding , or you had but just all these rogue libraries?

    All the rogue libraries yeah.

    So you just we shut them off and said, there's one place you can get components.

    Right exactly, and that was our whole purpose for getting the system was a single source, that was it.

    Tell us a little bit, we had talked several months ago, and I was really impressed with your whole vetting system really, that you've built internally of making sure. How do you make sure that what you're putting in is known, good and that they're verified, and that they're up to date?

    Right, well what we do is we, first off in the part itself, we follow IPC standard for our part creation we use the IPC 7351 and the IPC standards are our guideline for creating, and what we have now done is, because of Altium's sourcing capabilities now, we're able now to see sourcing. One of the greatest features that I have now looked at with Altium 18, has been your active feature. The ability to take a and throw it out there to all the vendors and suppliers and get feedback from them to determine what is the quality, what is the probability of this part, and we've actually taken several of our boards that are in production right now, through this active process and what we got back was, we would get red flags on components. We would get notices like this part is end of life.

    And on active that you're building?

    That we're building.

    Oh boy.

    So we would get, you know, red flags stating ok, this part is the end of life, this part is not recommended for new designs, this part is obsolete and it was a situation where that was the information we needed really.

    That gives us the red flags, not at the end of the project, not after the fabrication's there, not after the assemblies' done or started and after it's gone to the customer especially, it tells us at the beginning, the very first day when our schematic is complete we run it through the active feature and we get the red flags, because a lot of times, what designers do is, they will either copy a design from a previous design or they will simply lay down a part. All right, that's their job, that's the double E's responsibility. What has happened now, is we have been given the ability and the tools to make sure that we are using good . So if I run a board now, through the active active feature and it gives me a red flag, saying this is not the best part, this is not recommended for new designs, then I can go back to the EE now; and I can say, you know what we should consider not using this.

    Preemptively and proactively, before you're to the expensive part...

    Exactly yes, and so that now, we're able to constantly keep our sourcing information up to date so that we know exactly who we're buying the part from. And then also whether that part is deprecating in the lifecycle.

    So how many are is Legrand managing inside of your in your now?

    Right now we have about 5,000 6,000 .

    And how do you... so using the active is one; but didn't you tell me that you have a system of verification before things go in or out, come out your ?


    Just an internal process?

    It's an internal process that when anybody creates a new part it's given a life cycle of 'new' so that tells us it's a new part and what we then do, is we very go through and verify it, a verification process of that part. We'll pull up the data sheet, we'll verify the footprint, we'll verify the 3D model, the schematic symbol of course, and everything else and before then we can change the lifecycle to 'released', to where it's now available. So we make sure that, this is one of the features, also on Item Manager, it will tell you if the component lifecycle is new or if it's in a release state. So we can actually see: oh that part hasn't been verified yet, so we can then go in and make sure that everything's perfectly okay with it.

    How nice, by the way, to have that clean of a . like I think that's really rare, I don't think that's something everybody could boast about. I don't know, maybe I don't know.

    Oh I wouldn't say it's too clean, it's a effort it's a constant...

    Well yeah I'm sure it's something you have to continually manage?

    Yeah you constantly have to manage it, you constantly have to keep a look at and watch after it, a lot of times we have components that pop up there and they just don't match - nothing matches on the datasheet or anything and they easily get deleted. So we try to keep in control of that.

    So, you'd mentioned to me about, that in your multiple locations, you have three different PLM systems too?


    How does that come into play?

    Well we have different divisions, and each one of those; some of those have different PLM systems, and they also have different numbering systems for the part. So for example, you can have like a 1K resistor, 805 resistor, that you have in your. Well for us there's - for one division - it's one part number, for another division it's another part number, and for another division it could be another part number. So what we did was, we actually set up parameters inside of that part. We set up, what's called a CPN, a Company Part Number, so we then set up a list of company part numbers that we would use for that single item, so we could put in there then, all the different part numbers. So whenever anyone lays that part down, they're also laying down all the information for that part. So all the information, for whatever division is going to use it, so it makes it very handy to then integrate the whole process.

    So now that you've got this centralized and cleaned up and nobody wants to kill you anymore for deleting their - tell us how the overall, now kind of backing the camera up here, what's the overall effect that it's had actually on your quality your time to market, you know, the role of sanitization. What has that done for you guys really, as a company?

    It's really helped to streamline the whole process because once we're starting with good information from the, then we can talk now; what we're talking about is how are we going to streamline - how we're going to standardize our process, how we - we want to make sure that all the designers are first off, they're starting off from the same sheet, they're starting off at the same location, so they're all working from the same. They're working from the same templates now, and they're working from the same guidelines, procedures, things like that. So what has helped is it's streamlined. Basically taking a design through different divisions and it can be handed off from division to division and it can just be carried, and continue to be worked on.

    Without the disconnect.

    Without a disconnect without - except for a couple of people - I'll tell you...


    There's always those couple people.

    Yeah there's always a couple people. I have to tell you that there's the one person in particular he, what he does is, the convention is, in Altium, is that the component layer is red, and the solder side is blue, well what he does is he'll go and he'll swap those.

    Just to mess with your head.


    Just to mess with my head right. So but it's - other than that, once it's done, is it's called us to streamline the process, so now with the system coming in, we are going to be bringing that online, with the system coming online, we are now looking deeper at our processes, looking further about our process, and I'm kind of looking at it in the way of where, if you have a set process and you have a set group of people, a team that is responsible for certain tasks, then we can actually have milestone setups in our process where we simply say, at this gate keeping item, or this moment of our process, we want to do for example, a design review-

    Oh like an audit...

    -of an audit, of where the design is at and then also, we can assign people specific tasks in that process. So basically, we can go from there into then checklist... we say, ok we give a checklist to an individual that says check one, two, three, and four is it correct?

    So what we're looking now at, is streamlining our entire design review process, looking at decreasing our time to market, decreasing the time that that board is in design, and the system is going to definitely be a major part of that whole process. Because with that then, we're able to go into web reviews, which we're very excited about doing. Being able to do web reviews and have people actually go onto a website to look at this, they don't need to have Altium installed and go through the licensing and all this and that, they just get the email and the link, and they go in, review documents. So that's really exciting for us, but we're actually seeing a quicker time to market we're seeing better, improved boards, and it's really helped us also to do a self-audit which means that when we do a fabrication of a board for example, and we then go into assembly, what we then do is, we do a DFM we do a design for manufacturing review. We then look at the board and say, okay now what was the design flaws here?

    What was then - we also do a build review - from an assembly house they come back with a report that says, oh we had this, and this, and this issue. Okay so now, what we're able to do is that drives the design from there, then we look back at our libraries, whether we need to improve our footprints, or do we need to improve in some way, our process. Or we look at the specific layout, or we look at component problems and such like a build review, then we can look at our design review checklist.

    So it's like, it sounds like an ongoing real-time, optimization of your entire process.

    Yeah. Whenever you begin a process and you go out and you do that process, we're closing the circle. We bring it back to the beginning: say, did we accomplish what we started out to do right? We talk about how we, talked about it at the beginning, 'why' and 'how' or we talked about 'why' and 'what'.

    Well at the very back end it gets looped back there did we accomplish, why, what we were doing? Because I'll tell you, a lot of times, we can start a project and we can - and we just kind of go down the primrose path of design and we never get to what we were accomplishing.

    Right that can't happen.

    And we never get to it, we never accomplish it, and a lot of times those sort of designs and those sort of PCB just kind of die by the wayside. That was fun, that was a nice fun project.

    Now let's go do another one!

    Let's do another yeah. But I always said, I've always told the designers that I work with, I said: look you do not get paid for designing, you don't get paid for designing. This company is in business for one thing, and it's not to pay you to be a designer. It's a company, we’re in the manufacturing field now, not maybe in a service area, but in manufacturing. You're here designing because you're building something that ultimately needs to be put on a shelf somewhere and someone needs to buy. We're here to sell stuff and a lot of times we lose sight of that - we lose sight of the fact that, oh well this is a nice fun project, but do we ever accomplish what we started out to do?

    So what we try to do is, we're definitely trying to constantly improve our process, and constantly improving our designs and things like that, and I think that's done through our review process and looking at the very forefront of what are we accomplishing? Did we do it? How well did we do it you know?

    And where did we maybe fall down and how can we improve that. Here at Altium internally, we call that a post mortem. We've set up a process we said, well we're gonna go through it and then when it's done, we come back and we do what's known, sort of in the marketplace, as a post mortem and go, well how did that go? Did we do what we set out to do at the beginning you know, so it's very much the same of what you're talking about.


    Because if you don't come back and do that check, you could be left to center by the time you get to the end but you're like, oh that looks good, it works yeah, and you miss the target, but it's together, and it's functional. But you missed the mark right.

    So it's not a board of high quality, you got 98%, you missed that 2%. I'm actually concerned about the 2%, how can we improve the process, how can we make this quicker, how can we better this?

    Right well it's...I'm just in awe of the work you do actually John and I never get tired of hearing you talk about it because it's it's refreshing, and you've got a big team and it's a complex process but the discipline that you've brought to it is just, it's really impressive. So now I'd like to ask you about - is there anything else - first of all, that I missed that I asked you about...

    I don't think so.

    Okay, so now I want to just kind of put a microphone in front of your mouth and do a self-serving moment here, it's not really self-serving. But last October you were one of our speakers for Altium Live. And you had a lot of really positive things to say about that. I would like your honest input, because hopefully you'll be back again to speak at AltiumLive, I'd like you to encourage other designers, that maybe didn't have the chance to go. Tell them reasons why you found it valuable and so on and so forth. So if you would?

    I - it was of course - it was the first one so, and it was phenomenal and I felt, when you first told me, I first heard of it I thought about AltiumLive, okay this is going to be a three-day or a two- day commercial regarding Altium 18 and you're going to sit there and just see the demos and you guys are just gonna pat each other on the back as designers, and everyone's gonna you know - but it didn't turn out to be that way, what happened was this was far more than just about Altium 18. This was about the design process, this was about designers, this was an opportunity for designers to rub shoulders with some phenomenal people and some of the leaders in the industry and this was just two days of, just great learning, to hear from experts, to hear from the people that are the leaders that's the only way I can really describe it.

    They really are, I mean, the keynotes we had were thought leaders.

    They were, they were phenomenal, just absolutely! Mr. Holden...

    Yeah Happy Holden.

    -was just phenomenal I've been reading one of his, my favorite books, it sits on my desk right now it's The Printed Circuit Handbook.

    Isn't that a great book? This thick. Is that thick yeah. [gestures] But Happy doesn't ever sign up for anything that is short.

    That's right.

    Brevity is not his skill in life.

    But it was a phenomenal time and I'm really looking forward to October I mean, to have it again, and I understand we're gonna add the one day?

    We are gonna add the day on the front end because and we're doing that, again, we really are trying to make it all about people like you, and not make it an Altium commercial because I think EDA tool companies in general have been absolutely guilty of putting on, what they call user conferences, but it's like, we're going to lock you in a room, and beat you over the head with our products - see if you'll buy some more stuff from us right. So we try to really focus on what do you guys want; what's the value to you, and again this is a complex world we swim in so let's just bring all the experts in, bring on this. And of course we did launch Altium 18 and we talked about there, but only you know, 45 minutes on day one; 45 minutes on day two - that's all, the rest of the time it was not us at all - it was about celebrating designers and the and the craft of design but when we did the exit surveys we asked.

    What did you like, what you didn't like? And most of the feedback was largely good. But the one piece of feedback that people gave us is; gee I wish there was just a little bit more that was actually tool training, getting into some of the more advanced features that maybe during the workaday world, they don't have time to just sit down and learn and drill deep into some of the advanced features. So we've added a day on the front end that we're calling Altium University, and then we're gonna just do tracks all day, on the first day. And it's optional, you can go or not go, you know. If you're an expert and you don't need initial training, you don't have to go. But at least it's there and we've kept it out, so that we can kind of stay, design - somewhat design agnostic - on those other two days and really give you good depth and training and bringing in the experts, wait til you see, so far for AltiumLive - this is like breaking news right here, really you're the first to know...

    Oh my goodness.

    Okay, since you've been so generous with your time... so three keynote speakers that we have signed up right now is Eric Bogatin...

    Oh right!

    I bet you've read a few of his books, Rick Hartley, and then a young buck by the name of Jeremy Blum, who has worked at Google, went to Cornell; sharp Electrical Engineer and he's at a start-up now called Shaper and so he is like 'Forbes 30 under-30 Technologist', and he's like the startup whiz-bang kid. So that'll appeal, I think, to the younger designers and I haven't picked the fourth yet, but stay tuned - I'll keep one secret to myself. Those are three for San Diego. Dan Beeker will be joining us in Munich and I haven't decided yet, we're still working on the other ones in Munich, but it should be another great lineup of keynotes and I will put out a call for presentation soon so, and I've already inked you in, so.

    Yes you have.

    You don't get a vote.

    I know, and you're probably gonna ink me into Munich also.

    Good, good whatever we have to do to suck you in. So thank you for the AltiumLive commercial.

    Right I would just add to that, I would just add to that, I would just say, that if you, if you're kind of sitting on the fence about going or not going. Go, you won't be sorry, you won't be sorry I can promise you that. It's definitely a great time; it's a learning experience, it's a time to rub shoulders, is a time to kind of get away from your job - kind of get away from all the hassles. For those of you who are going to be in the cold areas of the country, such as Montana in the middle of October, I would highly recommend you to come please, come to beautiful San Diego where it will be a chilly 72 degrees.

    On Coronado Island with water on both sides of the hotel.

    Exactly, so it's gonna be a great time, but above that, it's gonna be a great learning experience. It's going to be a great time to come learn and grow, I'm really a senior, not just in age, but also in this industry, and one of our concerns is, and one of the concerns that was brought up in PCB magazine, just last year; was how there's a mass exodus right now of PCB designers, and that there is a vacuum happening that there are now more jobs available than there are designers and that is not just a concern for me, it's also a challenge, a challenge to train and to teach the younger generation coming up. To teach them and train them about this whole thing. It's a phenomenal industry, it's a cutting-edge industry, but it's not something where somebody, you know, they grow up they're four or five years old; mommy when I grow up I want to be a PCB designer.

    I know, I always say we all got here by accident, you know, it's like some windy road that landed us here.

    I started off in my career as an Electronic Technician and I started in that route and finally got pulled into the PCB design area and I actually started off with 98...

    You are dating yourself.

    Way back when, so and but it was phenomenal. It was it was a career that is now, is always changing and I love it, it's just... but I would highly encourage everyone to be there and to make sure that you come there to learn because that's the whole purpose of it. It's not going to be a three-day commercial for Altium, it is - this is about you - and what you need okay.

    Thank you I'll give you your $20 bill later [laughter].

    Check is in the mail...

    Well you plugged that way more than I'd hoped for, so thank you for doing that. But I know you're a fan, and I appreciate it. The feedback you had was music to my ears because what we intended to deliver, you said we delivered so, yes that makes my heart sing and being an - by the way - I won't give away this secret but I will put a little hook in you...

    Either your age or your weight...

    No neither one of those, no.

    Before AltiumLive, or at AltiumLive when - I first want to say thank you - that you are one of the people in the industry that are training up the next generation through the people you're training out of the ground so I really appreciate how you personally contribute. But either before or at AltiumLive you will hear something very exciting from Altium about things we're gonna be doing. Extremely proactively, help grow up the PCB design community and in a way where they can go out and use any tool they want but we have an intention to help grow that next and we hope people will use Altium, but we're not...

    Right, it's not required. That's good.

    -so stay tuned.

    I am really excited about that I mean, that's an exciting...

    It's coming and I feel really privileged to be in the place I am because, like you, I have been around a little while and luckily Altium is a generous EDA company and they are allowing me to step in and do some of these things.

    I thought your big announcement was AltiumLive, this year is going to be Altium 19.

    Oh shocker, spoiler alert!

    Altium 19! You heard it here first!


    At least we're consistent.

    We're consistent yeah. I'm glad you guys got, many years ago, you got away from that 2010-like the 2010 stage I don't know how many are still here, but you did the summer and the winter release. It was like a fashion show was like so...

    Our summer line!

    Your summer line versus your winter-like

    well then if we killed off teams of developers we decided to stop. Or they're like, why does it keep crashing? Maybe we should only do one release a year...

    Just saying... no. Well thank you again, this has been a blast always great having you...

    Thank you for having me.

    -thanks for teaching us and being such a great contributor to the industry.

    Well, we appreciate you, appreciate what you're doing.

    Thank you.

    Thank you again. This has been Judy Warner with the OnTrack podcast and my friend John Watson from Legrand. Please tune in again next time and until then remember to always stay on track.

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    About Author

    About Author

    Judy Warner has held a unique variety of roles in the electronics industry for over 25 years. She has a background in PCB Manufacturing, RF and Microwave PCBs and Contract Manufacturing, focusing on Mil/Aero applications. 

    She has also been a writer, blogger, and journalist for several industry publications such as Microwave Journal, PCB007 Magazine, PCB Design007, PCD&F, and IEEE Microwave Magazine, and an active board member for PCEA (Printed Circuit Engineering Association). In 2017, Warner joined Altium as the Director of Community Engagement. In addition to hosting the OnTrack Podcast and creating the OnTrack Newsletter, she launched Altium's annual user conference, AltiumLive. Warner's passion is to provide resources, support, and advocate for PCB Design Engineers worldwide.

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