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Empathetic Engineering: Watch my Keynote and a Shaper Spotlight from AltiumLive 2018

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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 HartleyEric 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!

There was some good press coverage of the conference, including several pieces where I was quoted:

Here are some additional tweets/photos from fellow attendees:

Shaper Origin Teardown with iFixit

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Shaper Origin is the product that I’ve spent the last few years helping to bring to market. As the world’s first handheld CNC, it has the potential to completely change they way people approach building and repairing things. I’m quite proud of the work we’ve done at Shaper to construct a quality product both inside, and out. That’s why we jumped at the opportunity to do teardown of Origin with iFixit. For the uninitiated, iFixit is a company dedicated to taking everything apart, figuring out how products work, and empowering people to repair their products instead of just throwing them away.

Recently, Ilan and I spent some time with Kyle (Founder and CEO of iFixit), tearing down Origin and making some sawdust. Ilan is the co-founder of Shaper and was one of my mechanical engineering counterparts responsible for making Origin ready-for-market with me. Check out the teardown video:

Before we tore the unit apart, we engraved iFixit’s logo into their teardown bench:

Talking Power Tools and Electrical Engineering on Altium’s OnTrack Podcast

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You may have learned schematic capture and PCB Design basics from my Eagle Tutorials. While I love using Eagle for hobbyist projects, Altium Designer is my preferred design software that I use for making production-ready electronics in my role at Shaper. Altium runs a podcast where they talk about PCB design, manufacturing, and other topics relevant to the electrical engineers who use their products. On the latest Altium Podcast, I joined host Judy Warner to talk about my background, how I design the electronics for Shaper Origin, and what issues are top of mind when I’m thinking about a product’s manufacturability. You can can download the podcast from Altium’s website, or listen via the audio track or YouTube video embedded below!

Hear what I’ve been up to on the latest Make(Break) Podcast!

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For me, the past two years have been all about bringing Shaper Origin to the world. Hear all about it in this week’s Make(Break) Podcast, featuring yours truly as the guest.

(Direct link)

How About a Game of Chinese Checkers?

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Working at a robotic power tools company has really gotten me back into woodworking, a hobby that I had previously pursued when I was much younger. I’m particularly proud of this Chinese Checkers set that I just completed (with some help from my girlfriend and my awesome co-workers). The board is a (very heavy) glue-up of solid White Oak slabs. I used a special plunge-cutting ball bit to make the marble holes. The triangles are made using a simple engraving bit, and then the whole thing is cut out using a 1/4″ spiral upcut bit. I got marbles from Amazon. The board is finished with a coat of linseed oil. This design and many others will be available for Shaper Origin users to download and make on their when we start shipping Origin later this year.

Confused? Go check out ShaperTools.com to learn more about the Handheld CNC that we’re developing and bringing to market. And be sure to check out the Shaper Blog, too, where the other engineers/designers and I have been detailing what goes in to making a product like Origin.