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Career Story: Circuit Board Designer And Consultant

Circuit Board Designer And Consultant

Job Title: Electrical Engineering Consultant

Type of Company: I'm an independent consultant, providing design services in power and analog electronics.

Education: BS, Electrical Engineering, City College of New York

Previous Experience: After graduating I did some digital design for two years then took a job designing power supplies for computers. Since then I have designed power supplies for computers, telecommunications equipment, medical instruments and automobiles.

Job Tasks: The typical design project starts with working with the client to create a specification document. This describes in detail what the electronics will do. Next I create the schematic, an electrical diagram of the electronic circuit. While creating the schematic, I do a detailed analysis of the component values and plug those in.

Once the schematic is done and I've created a parts list, the design goes to a layout person who designs the printed circuit board. If you've ever opened a cell phone or TV set, you've seen the printed circuit board that the electronic components sit on. Once the board design's complete, it goes to a manufacturer of printed circuit boards, the components are placed on the board and the board is powered and tested. Problems are corrected and the process is repeated.

With the new layout, five to ten prototypes are built. The purpose of these final tests is to check the specifications and reliability of the circuit one last time. Reliability testing involves tests that try to make the circuit fail. If the circuit does not fail, then it is ready for production.

This whole process can take from three weeks to a year depending on the size of the project.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part is creating the schematic and parts list. It becomes even more interesting if the requirements are a little unusual. It takes creativity to create the design.

The worst part is making a mistake during the analysis. This will show up when we test the first prototype. Depending on the problem, I know if I made a mistake during the analysis or if something unforeseen happened. Only one thing's more disastrous: if a problem shows up in production. Then the problem could result from either a design flaw or a component failure.

Job Tips:
1. Even if you're not studying for the sciences, learn math, at least through basic integral calculus.

2. Learn how to write. You need to be able to convey your ideas. This means knowing proper grammar and proper punctuation.

3. Listen to what others have to say. Even if the other person is wrong, there may be something of value in what he says or it will trigger a thought process that leads to solving a problem.

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