What analog engineer doesn't enjoy the "snick-snick" of those knurled knobs on the front of an Agilent or Tektronix high-speed scope? asks Steve Ohr in on editorial in the July issue of Planet Analog magazine. Some of the world's best analog engineers have an enviable skill set when it comes to test, he says.
Some of the world's best analog engineers have a second life among the world's best test engineers. In the semiconductor company I worked at (20-odd years ago), analog designers were recruited to build production test programs. Less glamorous than front end design, test engineering would nonetheless pay better. The recruiters often had an attitude: "Okay wise guy, you designed this thing. Why don't you tell us how to test it?"
Defining parametric tests is actually an enviable skill set. In production realms, time is money. Literally. Thirty seconds on a production tester is considerably less costly than a minute and thirty seconds if you're shipping millions of parts each month " but not if you increase the chances of a poor-performing part going to your customer. The analog test engineer helps identify the precise series of voltages, currents, sine waves and transients" and responses"that will verify than an IC behaves the way its data sheet says. These algorithms are often part of the test libraries provided my test vendors like Teradyne and LTX.
Bench testing, which troubleshoots new designs and prototypes, requires attention to setups, stimulus sources and fixturing. Thanks to Alex Mendelsohn's hands-on reports, test and measurement equipment is getting new attention at eeProductCenter online and in the back pages of EE Times. His FocusOn report on spectrum analyzers was over 6500 words of useful hands-on information, all of it reflecting a genuine excitement at what T and M suppliers can now offering. Own it: what analog engineer doesn't enjoy the "snick-snick" of those knurled knobs on the front of an Agilent or Tektronix high-speed scope?