Steve Sandler Interviews Heidi Barnes at DesignCon 2019

Steve Sandler interviews Heidi Barnes

Heidi Barnes discussed the roles of circuit boards with DDR5 with us at DesignCon. But that’s not all. She was also interviewed by Steve Sandler, a fellow power integrity master. Watch the video now!

 

Steve Sandler: Tell me what is the biggest thing you think you’ve learned being here at DesignCon this year? What was the biggest thing that you would take away from it?

Heidi Barnes: It’s awesome. Every year I come back. I see bootcamps with over a hundred and 20 people all working on simulations and listening to lectures on power integrity. But it also stimulates me to remember things I’ve learned in the past and it really highlights the important ones. We had a paper on fixture removal and I was reminding myself about how I love the unknown through calibration in order to get really stable, reliable calibrations and with power integrity. There’s a two-port shut impedance measurement and I get to do a lot of those here at DesignCon. I demonstrate to customers and people that are interested in listening.

Steve Sandler: That’s really cool! Over the past year, what is it that you think you’ve done with ADS that helped customers? And how did it help them do what they do better?

Heidi Barnes: One of the things I’m working very hard with is to figure out how do we enable people to do their job better. How do we give them the insights they need so that design becomes faster? So that they can pick up a tool and maybe they haven’t used it before, but they know the application. They know the methodology they want to implement so it makes it much easier to learn the tool. It’s amazing to me to watch someone who’s an expert in the industry and you hand them a tool that they haven’t used before, a simulation software, and they instantly know how to use it because they know what they need to get done.

And so one of our goals with the Power Integrity Bootcamp was not to do the latest, most complicated, sophisticated simulation that we can show them how great and wonderful some tool is. It was to give them the basic simulation capabilities to start giving them insight and give them a methodology to follow so that when they get to the end of that methodology, they have all the tools and the insights and, I guess I would say confidence, to actually then embark upon a very sophisticated and complicated simulation that will really predict and tell them what’s happening with their electrical circuits.

Steve Sandler: So what’s next? What’s the next big thing that’s going to unlock something for these engineers and help them do what they do better?

Heidi Barnes: I still believe that making it more commonplace and making it faster and easier to use EM models of printed circuit boards and getting better circuit models of say, the state space average models for switching converters, DC-to-DC converters. Getting the, I guess I would say higher fidelity models, and being able to integrate all of that efficiently is where I think we need to go next. Because lumped spice models aren’t going to cut it for the future.

Steve Sandler: True. One thing I noticed at DesignCon this year, when you look around, there aren’t many young people and that’s a little bit scary. But if people are sitting here, what would you say to them? What do you think the young people are missing and what would you give them as advice? What they should be doing to prepare for their upcoming career in engineering?

Heidi Barnes: You know, that’s a tough question as to why you don’t see younger people. I think that for one thing, a lot of the stuff that we’re working on here, the very latest and signal integrity and power integrity and some of those applications, take a tremendous amount of experience. And the other one, I would encourage them, I love the physics behind that. You know, you’re down there understanding exactly how the circuits work. You’re not at the higher level. It’s not the software level of things you’re down there actually learning how the physics of electronics work. And I hope to see more people into that. I think the automotive industry is starting to see that in the sense that ICE engines were not very interesting to work on. They had trouble finding engineers to come and do that business and now with autonomous driving and electric cars, I bet every young engineer out there is thinking about that industry. So I hope to see that same sort of thing happened with our industry. It just, you know, it goes through cycles.

Steve Sandler: Last question: if you could make a time machine, what do you think you would do differently in the development of your career? Is it something that you didn’t pay attention to that you would have? Is there something that you would have wished you’d have learned but you didn’t? What would you change if you could go back in time?

If I could go back in time, I probably would’ve spent more time really understanding the math. Math is like a language, you know, French, German, English and the more time you use it. And the more people you converse with using it, the better you get with it. I think sometimes I get frustrated because I don’t practice my math language enough. And there’s so much information in like the Fourier transform from time domain to frequency domain. It’s a tremendous tool for the signal integrity and power integrity industry. And it’s just a lot of that math is not trivial. And so, that’s one thing I wish I had paid more attention to my math classes in college.

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