Empathy. It’s not a word that is commonly associated with highly technical engineering conferences. But, at the recent AltiumLive conference in San Diego, I stressed its importance in my keynote address about how engineers can design better products, more quickly, and with more ownership of the process.
Altium, the company that makes the professional-grade PCB design software that I use in my work at Shaper, hosted the conference. I had a jam-packed schedule at the conference: I attended a day-long course on high-speed circuit design, I attended a variety of talks about topics ranging from PCB layer stack management to mechanical CAD integration, I manned a booth with Shaper Origin demos for attendees, I participated in a robot build/battle competition, and I delivered one of the keynote speeches. Naturally, Altium also announced the latest version of their software at the conference, which I’m excited to start using.
I was very humbled to share the stage with some luminaries, including Bil Herd, Rick Hartley, Eric Bogatin, Mary Elizabeth McCulloch, and others. Bil, Rick, and Eric delivered excellent keynotes on technical topics and their experiences in the industry. For my talk, I chose to speak about the softer topic of “design thinking.” Using Shaper as a case-study, I shared my insights into how engineers can better understand their end-customers and how they can work more effectively with non-electrical-engineering co-workers to produce better products. The talk was very well received, so I’m hopeful that its contents may prove useful to a greater audience. To that end, I’ve uploaded it to my YouTube channel. You can watch the entire 1 hour talk below. Below that, I’ve also embedded a video that I filmed with Altium at Shaper HQ to show how our product design process works. I hope you enjoy them!
As I mentioned above, AltiumLive was a hectic few days that involved classes, demos, building robots, and more. On one evening, all the attendees broke up into teams and were given a kit of parts to build a battle bot. Our team, which we named “Team Impedance Mismatch,” demolished the world record build time by more than two minutes. Then, we had fun battling the robots that the other teams had made!
Our team, "Impedance Mismatch," DEMOLISHED the world record time for the @teamworxtmbldng Robot Building competition at @altium's #AltiumLive2018 conference last week by more than 2 minutes. https://t.co/rTf1zWRA5C I mean… what do you expect… we do this for a living. pic.twitter.com/jk3CbIu1UM
— Jeremy Blum (@sciguy14) October 9, 2018
There was some good press coverage of the conference, including several pieces where I was quoted:
- Altium’s Formal Press Release detailing their new software offerings – I’ve been giving Altium feedback about ways to improve how designers can communicate intent to manufacturers. This was a strong focus of their new software, so I’m quoted in the press release.
- A Preview Piece from iConnect about what to expect from the conference.
- A Wrap-up Piece from iConnect about the conference (be sure to click through the multiple pages of the article).
- A Blog Post from the Robot-Building Competition company highlighting our new record.
- An article in “Printed Circuit Design and Fab” magazine highlighting the topic of empathy from my talk and the emerging new generation of engineers.
Here are some additional tweets/photos from fellow attendees:
Jeremy Blum @sciguy14 – director of hardware at @shapertools begins his keynote on principles for successful electronic design. #altiumlive2018 pic.twitter.com/9PmPTHu6HF
— EE Journal (@EEJournalTFM) October 4, 2018
#Design Thinking with @sciguy14 at #AltiumLive2018 pic.twitter.com/8LEhwcVf74
— Stephanie Hardman (@stephaniqueness) October 4, 2018
Getting the inside scoop on #hardware product design with @sciguy14 @shapertools at #AltiumLive2018 pic.twitter.com/jiYXpPd9IT
— Altium (@altium) October 5, 2018
#EmpathyFirst #ElectronicDesignSecond This keynote was fire.
— Mary Elizabeth (@ME_forshort) October 11, 2018
We built robots, learned about other attendees’ projects ( like Shaper Origin from @shapertools ), and listened to passionate engineers and legends like @BilHerd @sciguy14 @beTheSignal & Rick Hartley #AltiumLive2018 @altium pic.twitter.com/i1vx82UnAH
— Project Vive (@projectvive) October 12, 2018