Hello there, and welcome to my new blog here on EE Times. You may have come across some of my ramblings before over on All Programmable Planet (APP) or in the Xilinx Xcell Journal. If so, you will know that (in my "day job") I have the privilege of being the head of electronic design for Astrium Products Payloads in the UK.
My first thought on being asked to write this blog was: "On what topics can I focus that will be of interest to a wide audience?" And, after giving this literally seconds of thought, I decided I would base this inaugural offering on the numerous books and folders that I have carried around in my briefcase over the years, and which now litter my study, as illustrated below:
Just a few of the books and folders on hand in my study.
What kind of books are these? They are quite simply a collection of notebooks that -- over the years -- I have filled with circuits, comments, and interesting engineering issues I have run across in my career. Flicking through these pages made me notice a number of things and caused me to think "(a) I have messy handwriting, (b) why did I not write down more detail, and (c) many of these topics could be gathered into just a few categories."
With this in mind, I set about grouping things together. This got me thinking how lucky I had been with regard to the university I attended -- Sheffield Hallam University (the same as Max, but I attended much later because I'm so much younger than he) -- since they offered such a good engineering programme. Having said this, looking through my list of topics, I did come across a few subjects that I wish had been covered in a little more detail.
These topics can be summarized as follows (click the image below to start the slideshow):
No. 1: Design reliability -- We did, of course, cover reliability as part of my university course; however, it was at a very academic and abstract level. It would have been great to have had someone explain about failure rates; redundancy architectures (hot spared, cold spared, triple modular redundancy, and so on); fault propagation, etc., in a little more detail and with real-world examples. If a system has a MTBF (mean time between failures) of one year, does that mean it will work fault free for the year? And just how much will be the product recall cost (financial and reputational) if you do not consider reliability?
Of course, I suspect that everyone who has ever attended university has -- on occasion -- wished they had devoted more time to different aspects of the course, and also that the course itself had devoted more time to certain topics. Unfortunately, real-world time limitations often come into play. But who knows, maybe one of my old lecturers will read this blog and I will be invited back to give a guest lecture or two. If something similar were to happen to you, what would you focus your lecture on?