Back in my youth, I fondly remember the days of after-school clubs. Whether it be chess, band, or robotics clubs, these were the places to go to find like-minded, passionate folks eager to talk the talk. Although the days of youth are likely well behind most of us (rest in peace monkey bars), there still exist social environments where we can meet up with like-minded individuals. However, this time around, we’ll be able to reap far more than just a recess buddy.
Altium user groups offer benefits of both community and insider information You may now be asking yourself something like; “What in the heck is an Altium User Group and how can I be a part of one right this second?” Great question! In fact, this is the question we’ll spend a bit of time answering in this article. Let’s get to it.
What is an Altium User Group
Even though ‘Altium’ is in the title of these groups, an Altium User Group, or an AUG, is a local community independently created by Altium users for Altium users. The point of these groups is straightforward: to connect users with other users in an environment conducive to learning, engaging, and striving for new heights.
Oftentimes you’ll find that Altium works to assist the promotion of local groups whether through providing some food and drink or giving first insights into new features within these groups. In a recent podcast with David Carmody, he outlines his recent success with the AUG in San Diego and gives us some good insights into joining and even starting your own group. It’s easier than you think!
A good eye will help you find any routing issues and a good group will let you talk about it afterward.
Joining or Creating Your Very Own Altium User Group
Taking a look at David’s San Diego group, joining is as easy as signing up for email alerts, literally. Simply navigating to his main SDAUG site and enter your email. You’ll then receive email updates of meeting times. All there is to do now is to just show up!
Creating a group is almost just as easy. David suggests literally just copying the format of the already established SD group by following these steps:
- Identify and collaborate with Altium users in your area by a variety of means (posting an invitation on AD live forum, other forums, meetup apps, etc.)
- Find a hosting facility (if not at a Sunday brunch spot). Fab centers, assembly houses, and maker hubs are all great spaces to inspire creative community.
- Contact Altium to see if there is a field engineer that is close enough to attend (also to see if they could cater a few meetings… yum).
- Create a group charter (David suggests piggybacking off of SD’s group charter) to establish boards, times, and other important regulatory information.
- Create a blog for visibility. The blog doesn’t have to be particularly used, but a hub to post pictures and host questions anyone interested might want to ask.
- Announce your meetings and encourage continued participation.
With the steps laid out for you like this, it’s easy to ask yourself why you didn’t think to start a group earlier.
User to User Benefits
At their core, user groups are no different than a Sunday social brunch club or a book club. Instead of discussing neighborhood gossip or the latest true crime novel, you’ll be surrounded by PCB designers of all sorts and talk about issues you’re passionate about.
What makes this experience so special is how independent the group is from Altium, while still maintaining a strong, supportive relationship with them. You will be truly unlimited in what you want your user group to bring to the table, as the agenda and the discussions are motivated entirely by you and your co-designers. You might use the meeting for:
- Introducing new Altium Designer features (sometimes even presented by designers from Altium)
- Dynamic user/Altium feedback
- Peer-to-peer assistance
- Altium Designer technological help and troubleshooting
- Prototyping design feedback
- A synergistic and collaborative design community
Benefits of Altium User Groups could extend far past Altium related topics and even into peer to peer design assistance.
Starting or joining a local Altium User Group can benefit more than just your AD skills. You’ll engage with a variety of individuals with a color background that will likely differ from your own. This will promote peer-reviewed designs, dynamic user feedback, and a great design community.
If you want to become more involved with Altium User Groups and even want to start one, check out David’s San Diego chapter’s website, follow the steps listed above, and get to grouping! For all things PCB design, as always, consider using Altium Designer. If you want more great AUG resources, consider talking to Altium Judy or talking to the experts at Altium today.
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