Streamlining Product Development Process for Successful Launch

Zachariah Peterson
|  Created: October 13, 2022
Streamlining Product Development Process for Successful Launch

 

Ben Nibali, founder and President of Aptus Design Works, with Connor Richardson, the Electrical Designer, are our guests in this episode. We will discuss how you can plan the cost and lead times to successfully launch your product in the market.

Ben and Connor share some excellent advice for designers and companies to streamline their product development process from prototyping to manufacturing.

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Show Highlights:

  • Aptus is a design and engineering company, and they’ve been around for about 15 years
    • They handle initial concept development, mechanical development, controls, and mechanical prototyping and help their clients through the launching and manufacturing of their products
  • Expecting and avoiding pitfalls comes with experience; in addition, working with trusted vendors and suppliers is huge when honoring set schedules or timeline
  • The natural state of every project is over budget and behind schedule. Ben Nibali stresses the importance of effort and discipline to have complete control of the process  and deliver on time
  • Some unrealistic expectations by Aptus’s clients typically involve defying the law of physics
    • Other challenges include expectations from not knowing the process and cost expectations based on the higher volume of current products that really can’t be met in a US market-based launch scenario
    • Clients need to realize that there is a proper “cost of engineering”
  • There are also misconceptions about 3D printing–in reality, it takes days to print 3D objects
    • You can’t have fast, cheap, and high quality at the same time
  • Software guys may often misunderstand that modifications on hardware  are not as simple to execute as they will be on software
    • The “minimum viable product” is a great idea and works exceptionally well in software because you can add, modify, change, and grow something slowly after you deploy. In hardware, it is an entirely different cost structure to make changes once you start making anything physical. 
  • “Proof of concept” is often neglected when companies want to launch their products immediately
  • Connor Richardson shares the most complex and fun project they did at Aptus
    • Another exciting prototype they created is the cow-milking robot
  • Ben gives designers and companies a piece of advice on how to plan cost and lead times when launching their products
    • The most important factor is market research, understanding what this thing that we're going to sell is? How are we going to sell it? Who's going to buy it? What features matter? 
    • The better the client understands the world they're going to try to sell into and how they're going to sell it, the more valuable our work will be and the higher likelihood that they'll make a profit
  • Creating high-quality products could mean years of planning

Links and Resources:

Connect with Ben Nibali on LinkedIn
Connect with Connor Richardson on LinkedIn
Visit Aptus Design Works website
Watch How APTUS Designworks uses Altium 365 and Altimade to reduce cost and move more quickly
Altium Story presents Breaking down the barriers to progress - APTUS Designworks

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Transcript:

Ben Nibali:
The natural state of every project is over budget and behind schedule. That is how nature wants it and it is only through our consistent effort and discipline and staying ahead of Murphy's law effects that we are able to steer it, control it, and deliver on time. So it's a constant fight. It is a constant battle.

Zach Peterson:
Hello everyone and welcome to the Altium OnTrack podcast. I'm your host, Zach Peterson, and today I'll be talking with a couple of folks from Aptus DesignWorks. Aptus has been profiled in the most recent Altium story, so I encourage you to check out the show notes and go watch that video. Today we'll be talking with Ben Nibali, president of Aptus DesignWorks, and Connor Richardson, electrical designer at Aptus DesignWorks. Guys, thank you so much for joining us today.

Ben Nibali:
Thank you.

Connor Richardson:
Yeah, thanks for having us.

Zach Peterson:
So for folks who may not have seen the Altium story just yet, I'm hoping you could maybe give us an overview of the company, what you guys do, and how you got involved in this endeavor and even how you got involved in electronics.

Ben Nibali:
Sure thing. I'll tackle that. So Aptus is a design and engineering company. We've been around for about 15 years. We have about 10 people on staff and we tackle a wide range of product development and process development projects for companies in a wide range of industries. So it is something different every week, every day for sure. We handle initial concept development. We handle mechanical development. We handle controls and mechanical prototyping and increasingly walk with our client companies through launch and even well into manufacturing. So executing the designs that we complete is a huge part of what we're about and that means everything that we do has to be done for survival in the real world, which means real world budget, real world schedule, and realistic supply chain.

Zach Peterson:
So when you say survivable in the real world... I think we all get supply chain issues. You need to be able to procure it over the long term. So I'm sure there's quite a bit of BOM cleaning that goes on, but also once it's deployed I would assume it needs to be operationally reliable. So it sounds like you're doing stuff in high reliability areas. Which industries would you say?

Ben Nibali:
There really is no main industry. We have worked in everything from a high volume consumer products like paper cups up into robotics and we do a lot of work in the automotive manufacturing side, not so much automotive design, but in automotive manufacturing processes. It's all over the place really. Most of our clients are starting manufacturing in the US and so often we're not launching into high volumes. We're really stepping through the lowest volumes, samples, prototypes, launch volumes, pilot production, and then into hundreds and thousands eventually, but we're really not jumping into tens or hundreds of thousands typically.

Zach Peterson:
So for the folks out there who may be listening and who have yet to make that transition that you're talking about from prototyping through to scaled manufacturing, so into that hundreds or even thousands of units, I think for some folks that process can be a bit opaque. So what is that process like for the folks that you work with and what do people expect when they come to you? And maybe what are some of the rude awakenings that they experience as they go through this process?

Ben Nibali:
In a nutshell, everything goes wrong. It takes longer. In all seriousness, predicting or figuring out just how to expect and avoid pitfalls comes with experience. We've learned to work with vendors, with suppliers that we know we can count on and that we know will be available to follow through with quotes, with lead times, and follow up orders. That's super important to our clients who are really trying to launch something on a schedule.

One of the things that we've had to accept is controlling a schedule means bringing more steps in house and under our own time management, taking responsibility for managing through more and more steps all the way into production, to the point that sometimes we'll do early pilot production assembly even in house, bringing components in from vendors and making sure that it's right. Instead of having early production delivered to our client for them to assemble and figure out, we'll do a lot of that and walk through that with them.

Zach Peterson:
So it sounds to me like you're confirming some of the stuff that I've experienced with helping folks make that transition, which is Murphy's law is in full effect. What can go wrong probably will go wrong. And I think in some cases it's almost like it's constantly in danger of just totally derailing a project.

Ben Nibali:
What we say is the natural state of every project is over budget and behind schedule. That is how nature wants it and it is only through our consistent effort and discipline and staying ahead of Murphy's law effects that we are able to steer it, control it, and deliver on time. So it's a constant fight. It is a constant battle. It's a lot of fun.

Zach Peterson:
I agree. And it sounds like to me... And I'm just comparing with my own experience here, but it sounds like to me you guys are taking a bit more of an active role and taking responsibility for a lot of the logistics in that transition for folks. I know in my experience there's some manufacturers that I work with that do high volume and so for me it's a lot easier to transfer it off to them and then act under our rep agreement. And at some point I'm just out of the loop and they've taken it over and they've said, "Hey Zach, we have a question," and they may come back to me. But a lot of those logistics I think that you're referencing are opaque even to myself. And so I don't really see all of those difficulties.

Ben Nibali:
Ultimately we really want to get to that point where we're not in the conversation anymore. When we have done our absolute best, we've done our job the best we can, we aren't needed. That's what we all want to get to. But getting there is a complex process and not only handling the logistics, but also making wise choices about the vendors, connecting our clients with the right supplier who is going to be able to handle a direct relationship with them in the future... That's part of what people come to us for, is that experience and the confidence that we're going to connect them with the right parties.

Zach Peterson:
So you said the natural state of all projects is blowing up schedules and blowing up budgets, and I understand that and I think that is one big misconception about getting a physical product out there into the market. But what are some of the other misconceptions that the clients you have will bring to you? What are some of the things that they expect that are just totally unrealistic?

Ben Nibali:
Connor will have some specific examples of that [inaudible 00:09:07]

Zach Peterson:
Yeah. I saw Connor... I saw you smiling, so I'm thinking you've got some interesting stuff here.

Connor Richardson:
Yeah. [inaudible 00:09:12] more specific project where the physics itself wouldn't allow the product to work and we tried to convey that to the customer and they kept saying, "Well, you just got to get the algorithm right and then this will work." I don't want to go too specific with it, but we got that a lot from a couple projects where physics doesn't allow you to do some things and some people just don't like that answer.

Ben Nibali:
We try hard to weed those out very early. But yeah, just in a general sense, the ability to move a project forward in calendar time... If people have not been through a product startup cycle, they almost can't imagine the level of complexity and all the moving parts. And sometimes it's hard for them to imagine that there aren't vendors, there aren't suppliers, sitting around with nothing to do except crank their parts out as fast as possible at low volumes and making something that's never been made before.

As I said, we work with a wide variety of clients, so sometimes the clients just haven't been through the process before. Other clients will have existing products in existing markets. They might have cost expectations based on their higher volume current products that really can't be met in a US-based launch scenario. So that's something we have to work through sometimes, is just setting reasonable expectations for how long it may take. Generally we're shooting for weeks and months and not years. No one wants to hear years, but then setting realistic cost expectations and establishing an understanding on the client's side that there is a proper amount to invest and spend on this launch, on the component, on the engineering. There is a proper amount. You really don't want to spend less. That'll be a bigger problem than spending even a little bit too much.

Zach Peterson:
Yeah. I think sometimes it's a little bit of a rude awakening for some folks who are getting into this and have never built something physical or who have a perception about the design process or about what PCBs are supposed to do and all of a sudden you start hitting them with some numbers, whether it's time or cost, and they start thinking, "That's crazy. It shouldn't be like that." Have you ever gotten a lot of pushback on some of the things that you're bringing up? Because I think everything you're bringing up is realistic and I think some folks who are just getting into this and maybe they want to engage with a company like Aptus might be in for a reality check.

Ben Nibali:
It can be a battle and we've had to learn over time how to have those conversations gently with the client. I tell all the folks here we don't have companies that are customers. We have people. You got to speak to that person with... What is their experience? What is their understanding? You've got to speak to them in that language or meet them where they are. So explaining to someone that, yeah, you can go to Walmart and buy something that looks like this for five bucks, but it's going to cost thousands and thousands to make one... That's a tough conversation to have if a person just isn't familiar at all with the process they're going through.

But yeah, we've learned how to, through example and with patience, talk people through that. One thing we run into a lot is a misconception about 3D printing. 3D printing... Oh, it's incredible on YouTube, on paper. Oh my gosh. You can do anything. And it's so cheap. It costs the plastic. However it's just not the same. It's not a molded part. It takes days to print things instead of seconds to mold them and there's a core layer of course to lower volume electronics also. You just can't have fast and cheap and high quality all at the same time. It's almost a law of physics.

Zach Peterson:
Multiply those three things together and you get a constant and one of them has to go down for the other one to go up. It's how I look at it.

So one thing that I've seen quite a bit in my experience is folks coming over from the software world into hardware. So maybe they have a great idea and it requires a piece of hardware or they used to work in some industry and maybe they were on the software side, but they want to move into the hardware side and so it's going to require them to actually build something to implement the application that they want to create. And the process for developing software is so different from hardware.

Do you ever see or get clients that come from software or have a software background and just have totally different expectations for things like development and prototyping and thinking into the future? I think the biggest thing that I've dealt with is they think change is super easy, so they want to change stuff all the time, and then they think prototyping is super easy because they're used to doing an infinite number of prototypes, whereas we're trying to make the number of prototypes go down to one.

Ben Nibali:
Right. The term minimum viable product gets thrown around a lot. It's a fantastic idea. It works extremely well in software because after you deploy, you can add, you can modify, you can change, you can grow something slowly. In hardware, you have baked in a bunch of investment at that point already. It is just a completely different cost structure to make changes once you start making anything physical. Especially now with everything cloud based, changes are just a completely different concept in the software side.

We have had clients come to us which in their prior lives and really all their work experience were from the software world and it can be a shock when they come to understand the cost of an error when you go to a tooled component or even a first run of populated PCPs. The amount of money that can be lost immediately with a small error can be shocking for them to understand. But again, we just deal with that case by case. You have to meet people right where they are with their understanding of that.

Connor Richardson:
I do a lot of software too. I think that's helped with my hardware design because on a first run, I'll set up a couple of different circuits even though I know that I won't end up using all of them just to test things out. And it's a little more expensive on the prototype, but compared to having a whole board remade it's fairly cheap. Then I can test things out and figure out which route I want to go. And it's more of a software approach but it ends up working pretty well.

Zach Peterson:
If you can maybe communicate some of those issues with what happens with change ahead of time, I think you can at least get that group into maybe thinking ahead a little bit as they plan out what they want to do. Because I've had someone tell me, "Oh, we totally want to change the architecture of this." "Well, okay, you basically want me to design it twice." And then they have that reality check, "Oh, yeah. This isn't so easy to change. It's not just cutting out a block code and pasting in a new block code. We have to actually worry about the physical specs that exist around all of this." And then they have that reality check.

Ben Nibali:
I think there's a reality check also that comes when your understanding of risk changes from something that's exciting and motivating and, "Look how bold and innovative we are..." It turns into, "We're about to throw a whole lot of engineering and maybe tooling away," and changing that as a management style... Companies will have a risk tolerance built into their culture, their background, their experience, and helping people understand that risk isn't always exciting and a sign of innovation, sometimes it's actually just a sign of poor planning... That can be a hurdle also to overcome.

Zach Peterson:
So have you ever had anyone push back on you about something that you know is a risk and they don't see it as a risk? They see it as a chance to experiment. What's the biggest thing that slaps them in the face and gets them to realize, "Oh yeah, we're going to throw a lot of resources at this." Is it just once they see the numbers written down on paper?

Ben Nibali:
I think if we're doing our job, we have to put those numbers in front of the decision makers. That is a fundamental part of our business. That's part of why people come to us. If we make that visible and if I see a client who's leaning hard into a gamble... They're rolling the dice. It's not just a controlled, understood risk, which a new product always is somewhat risky, but if they're really about to gamble, we'll make everyone stop and I'll put it on the whiteboard or I'll put it in an email in writing and make sure everyone understands we do not advise or we consider this to be very risky or I have never seen this work in the past. That type of risk.

But we're their engineering team. So if the decision is made that, "Okay, we're going in this direction," that's the direction. Now we're a hundred percent on it and we are doing absolutely everything that we can to make that work. There's no hedging your bet at that point. If that is the direction, that's the direction. So we'll go all in. But everybody has to understand this is a roll of the dice and I like to use that term, not just engineering terms like unknowns and we'd like some contingency and margin. Throw those out the window. It's time to start talking about we're going to Vegas with this decision.

Zach Peterson:
So does that crop up on maybe new designs or new types of products that have just never been done before and they want to do something that just maybe totally goes outside the reference design or goes outside the specs of a component or something like this?

Ben Nibali:
I see it as a personality thing mostly. Usually it tracks with the personality of the management team, probably more than the industry or the market. Companies are made of people. Some people are just excited by risk.

Zach Peterson:
Well, sure, sure. And I understand the desire to experiment with new things, but I guess what I'm wondering is where have you guys seen that type of mentality crop up or that type of approach to a design crop up? Has it been where someone wants to build something and they basically think they're building a perpetual motion machine? They're going to just totally change the world? Or are they just deviating from recommendations whether they're by a manufacturer or just well known for a particular component or type of design?

Ben Nibali:
When I think of the situations where we've encountered that in the past, it swings very hard towards brand new markets, very small startup companies. Bigger companies have more to risk. Nobody wants to lose their job over blowing a huge amount of fixed asset budget or something. So I would say generally speaking it's more on the new invention level, a new market. "The world's never seen this before. We got to just go for it," kind of mentality more than a revision or iteration of some existing product. You see that a lot more.

Zach Peterson:
Well, you would think that in that case folks would do some kind of proof of concept. You would reasonably expect that, right?

Ben Nibali:
Yeah. Again, I think sometimes people are just impatient. They want to be in the market. They've decided, "We're going to be on the market for Christmas." Whatever is going on their head. "This next big trade show we're going to be there." And so when I lay out the Gantt chart and, "Well, it's going to take this long to tool up for these first components and put this thing together," and it can't fit. So now we have to overlap. So I think that's where you really run into you have a proof of concept decision or a proof of concept model... Isn't really finished until it's too late to order the first batch for Christmas. You know what I mean? And so now we are moving in parallel with proof of concept and manufacturing startup. So it's impatience most of the time.

Zach Peterson:
Being impatient will always bite you, whether it's hardware design or many other areas of life as I've experienced.

Ben Nibali:
Yeah.

Zach Peterson:
So in terms of the types of designs that you guys do, what's some of the most complex or fun stuff that you guys have done in the past without revealing customer intellectual property if you can?

Connor Richardson:
Probably one of the most fun ones we did was the one that was actually on the LTM story. So that was a concrete grinder and polisher and we actually started that with a PLC in it. So it was a known off the shelf component. And because of the supply chain issues and they were much more expensive than a custom board, they ended up wanting to switch over to that. So they were getting close to production time so we had to really crank that board out pretty quick, which again was fun to do because it was out of such a necessity for the company. But that was definitely one of the coolest projects.

Zach Peterson:
So are there any others that maybe come to mind and have given you some difficulty or taken you to crunch time, whether it's on the design side or the manufacturing side?

Ben Nibali:
I'm trying to think of a project that didn't [inaudible 00:25:24] major crunch time. Design is something that we do until we run out of time. That's how we look at it. You never run out of opportunity to refine a design, to test it again, to prototype it again. And so whatever the schedule is, we're trying to squeeze as much testing and confirmation in as we can. So whether it's, "Let's squeeze one more prototype round in before we have to commit to a PCB run," or something like that, we're always going to be trying to squeeze one more thing in.

And our design and engineering business has really become a design engineering, prototyping, sourcing, and production startup business. And so we're very hands on. The grinding project that Connor was just talking about... That was a self-propelled, electric, motorized, large piece of grinding equipment. We were driving it around in the parking out back with a remote control. It was all over the place. Building ramps. Not jumping it, but building ramps, starting to climb. We would've done it if we had time. Building ramps, start to climb up. And prototyping as fast and learning as fast as we could. And that all occurred right here practically in our office. So that was very visible. So that really is a great example.

We've been through some crazy prototypes. We helped design and build a cow milking robot once where we actually went into dairies and installed this robot intimately into the cow milking parlor. And it went in there and it did its thing. I mean, we milked cows. We were in there getting very dirty in a really interesting environment that most of us had never been in and trying to iterate a system like that. There are just a lot of moving parts and some of them are alive. It makes the schedule control even more exciting when you have something like a thousand pound animal involved in your prototyping process.

Zach Peterson:
The word that comes to mind to describe that is dedication. Definitely dedicated to getting it right. And you talk about going on site with a client. Interesting when your client is, like you say, a thousand pound animal.

Well, that's extremely interesting. And I guess with where you guys are located geographically, you probably see some different projects than the folks in Silicon Valley might work on. So I imagine that contributes to some of the interesting scenery you have to see and areas you have to work in.

Ben Nibali:
Yeah. I've never been a design engineer out in Silicon Valley, but we're in the southeast and it's a region where people definitely are pretty focused on things being cost effective. There is not a lot of tolerance for long schedules and big budgets. And so our whole business is designed around being lean, moving quickly, making shrewd judgments about when do we overengineer it and when do we just have to prototype our way quickly through a question? And yeah, our processes have become tuned to that expectation I think in this market. We're also one of the very few companies in this whole southeast region that really does the breadth of development work that we do and so we get folks from all over the place, companies from all over, companies we had no idea they existed. It turns out they're down the street from us making something that we didn't know was a thing. It's been pretty fascinating.

Zach Peterson:
So if anyone is going to engage with you guys or possibly a company like Aptus, what are some of the things that they can do ahead of time, ahead of that engagement, to help maybe streamline the process as well as deal with some of those things that might be concerning, specifically around cost and lead time?

Ben Nibali:
I think probably the most important factor is market research, understanding what is this thing that we're going to sell? How are we going to sell it? Who's going to buy it? What features really matter? What we would call it is writing the spec. We almost never get a spec for the project that we're launching into. Along with the client, we will write a product requirements document based on what we think they're telling us. Our designers, our engineers will be involved in that process.

It's somewhat iterative. Lots of hand waving and excited conversation and we'll try to record, "Okay, we think we just heard you say, 'We want to make a thing that does this and looks like that and smells like this.'" And then we'll all scrutinize that. And they'll be like, "Yeah, but it needs to be loud too." "Oh, it's going to make noise. All right." And pretty soon there's some feature creep. Sometimes it's more like feature explosion and we have to bring that back to reality of, "All right, hang on a minute. Now you're talking about a completely different business. Let's bring this back to something that we can execute within the next year or so."

So again, it's an iterative process, but the better the client understands the world they're going to try to sell into and how they're going to sell it, the more valuable our work will be and the higher likelihood that they'll make a profit, they'll make more money than we charge in fees. And in new product development that is not a guarantee. Very, very common for our clients to not make back the money that they spend because they are creating something brand new. World hasn't seen it yet. Nobody knows how to sell it yet. And that's a much bigger hurdle, honestly, than a lot of the technical problems we solve. We can make the product, but we can't make people buy it. And so the more knowledge of where this product is going to go and how it's going to get sold, the better.

Zach Peterson:
It's always interesting to talk to people who have this new idea and to see the vision come to life because I think they have a vision of what they want the end experience for the buyer or for the user to be and they're trying to make that connection. And at the end of the day, they're really relying on you guys to make that connection through the thing that you're building.

Ben Nibali:
And we are careful to say, "We can't sell it for you. We can make it beautiful. We can put a logo on it. We can make it look just like you ask. We can make it work, but ultimately the world has to want this thing." And sometimes we get into projects that are... It's a niche of a niche of a niche and we are just skeptical that there's enough buyers out there. We try to be as helpful and realistic as we can with folks and I don't want to take anybody's money if they're not going to make it back. We try really hard to do that, but at the same time, that's not why they came to us. They didn't come to Aptus to have their dreams dashed and us to be pessimistic and critical of... That's just not why they're here. So yeah, we try to do our best and be as realistic as we can.

Zach Peterson:
Yeah, I can imagine... You brought up something really actually important for the engineers out there or maybe not engineers, but just the person who wants to introduce a new product in the market, which is the niche of a niche of a niche. I can imagine that really narrows the feature scope to a point where it gets very specific and you have to wonder if folks then think about the technical side of that or maybe they don't even have any experience on the technical side of that. Is that something that you actually encounter pretty frequently?

Ben Nibali:
Yeah. Again, our clients are all over the map. Some folks come to us... Essentially they have an invention. Maybe they don't have industry experience or they don't have relevant experience in that industry and they don't have really any data or data points about how many buyers are there and how many can I reach? What are those people buying now? So again, those niche of a niche of a niche products... Man, I can write a really nice concise spec, but gosh, I want our customer to be very careful.

Zach Peterson:
I can imagine that you get two groups. One is coming to you and they've invented the experience that they want to see, which may or may not be technically feasible. But then you have another group that comes to you and they've invented a process that is maybe more realistic to getting to that experience and they come to you guys to fill in the gaps in the process with a piece of hardware.

Ben Nibali:
Yeah. We ride this line or we live really in this territory between heavy duty manufacturing process development, which big automotive companies... Nissan, Denso, come to us to help develop some really specific processes. Those are the guys that bring the spec. They know. They know what they want. And sometimes they're like, "Yeah. You know what? About two and a half years we want to start making this thing." And they're ready for it and nobody talking about a product ever talks in years. It's, "I want it by Christmas. I want this on the shelf by Christmas." It's the big manufacturing process customers that are really looking way, way out. And that is even symptomatic of how much is involved in achieving high quality, high volume manufacturing. That's the world those customers really live in. There is no hiding from quality issues. These are the Six Sigma quality folks. They have to absolutely a hundred percent deliver. Those guys are planning years out in the future. And yes, they'll come with... Well, sometimes they are coming to us for the process, but they tend to know exactly what they want.

On the product end, the product customers who already have a product, it's very often an iterative version of something they already understand. And those customers... Those are the folks that are most reliably going to see a really good return on that investment because they're already selling into the market and they know what the market wants. They can see into the future much better.

Zach Peterson:
Well, I think this is all really great advice for the folks out there who have a great idea and I think even for the designers out there who are going to work with folks who have that great idea and want to build something meaningful and really have an effect in society. So I want to thank you both so much for offering all this great advice. We'll put some links in the show notes, of course, to connect with Aptus. And then of course we hope everyone will watch the recently released Altium story on Aptus DesignWorks. Ben, Connor, it's been great talking to you today. Thank you so much for joining me.

Connor Richardson:
Yep, thanks.

Ben Nibali:
Thank you.

Zach Peterson:
And to everyone that's out there listening, once again, please check out the show notes for some great resources and to connect with Aptus. And of course subscribe to us on YouTube to get notifications for all upcoming podcast episodes as they're released. And last but not least, don't stop learning, stay on track, and we will see you all next time.

About Author

About Author

Zachariah Peterson has an extensive technical background in academia and industry. He currently provides research, design, and marketing services to companies in the electronics industry. Prior to working in the PCB industry, he taught at Portland State University and conducted research on random laser theory, materials, and stability. His background in scientific research spans topics in nanoparticle lasers, electronic and optoelectronic semiconductor devices, environmental sensors, and stochastics. His work has been published in over a dozen peer-reviewed journals and conference proceedings, and he has written 2000+ technical articles on PCB design for a number of companies. He is a member of IEEE Photonics Society, IEEE Electronics Packaging Society, American Physical Society, and the Printed Circuit Engineering Association (PCEA). He previously served as a voting member on the INCITS Quantum Computing Technical Advisory Committee working on technical standards for quantum electronics, and he currently serves on the IEEE P3186 Working Group focused on Port Interface Representing Photonic Signals Using SPICE-class Circuit Simulators.

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