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!
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: