Don Baechtel's got a big problem.
It's our problem too.
Baechtel,a longtime engineer, is one of the many EE Life readers who took me up on my invite on the Drive for Innovation project to come by and say hi, drive the Volt, and talk about engineering.
He came armed with a list of challenges that we face as engineers, an industry, as publishers. It was a delightful afternoon and one of the most useful conversations I've ever had.
Here's Don's No. 1 problem: Quality sucks.
Quality sucks across the board from the biggest semiconductor, software T&M companies all the way down through the design and manufacturing chain.
Much of it, in Baechtel's eyes, stems from the decades-old trend in the United States of the "leaning out" of companies, as bean counters, hedge funds and management bureaucrats try to wring out more profitability from their companies.
It's imperiling the work of systems designers everywhere.
"Documentation is poor. Companies have changed support. There's a layer of people between me and the engineers. These are called technical support people. They can't answer any questions. Then they (companies) put out these 'support forums' … all users help themselves."
It's just not efficient or helpful, Baechtel insists. In some cases, the problem is so acute that he's been forced to changed a component choice in the middle of a design.
So how bad is it? I want to craft a survey that attempts to gauge the problem, but I need your help in crafting intelligent questions.
- How should we go about crafting a 5-to-10-question survey for the readers that will pick at this issue?
- What questions should we ask that are less intuitive and more fact-based?
With your help we can come up with a survey that sparks a larger conversation
about this issue that may lead (we can always hope) to change.