Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Test and Measurement Metaphors

To prepare for an upcoming sales meeting, I was ask to explain the value proposition of the Tektronix AWG5208.  The question was - why did it accomplish a task for our customer that no competing product could perform?

For those who don't know, an AWG, or Arbitrary Waveform Generator, is like a reverse-oscilloscope.  It takes samples in memory and "plays" them in the real world.  They are very popular for developing new types of signal processing, such as MIMO Radar.  Anything you can dream can be played.  Later, hardware engineers can create a device based on the signals you create.  AWG's are defined by basic specifications like sample rate (highest frequency signal) and dynamic range (or how small of a signal you can create in the presence of a large signal).

Sample rate and high dynamic range are fairly easy to understand, but I was asked, "Why is having 8 channels in one box a value?  Can't you just use 8 signal generators tied together?"

Monday, January 8, 2018

Joel Avrunin's Advice for College Hire Job Interviews

In my position managing the US AE team, I have the opportunity to interview engineers at various levels of experience, from new college hires to senior level engineers.  Having conducted more interviews than I can count, there are certain pieces of advice I would like to give to engineers looking for their first job out of school.  My list applies mostly to engineers going into sales, but of course, much of this applies to any job interview.

Main caveat here - I am not a career coach or counselor.  I'm just an employer sharing what I find are best practices in a college interview.

Monday, January 1, 2018

The Why and not the What of Receiver Test

It is important for an engineer in technical sales to be able to explain not just what "what" of test and measurement technology, but the "why".

I use this question in almost all of my interviews now for sales engineers, and it helps me see how well an engineer can explain a concept at a high level.  The conversation goes something like this...

Joel Avrunin: "Many Gen 1 and Gen 2 high speed serial standards only involve transmitter test (TX), requiring an oscilloscope.  Receiver test (RX) is limited or non-existent.  I am an engineering manager putting someone else's silicon into my design, and I am concerned about the cost of test.  So why do Gen 3 standards such as USB3.1 require RX test?"

Here is the wrong answer.

Applicant: "Because it is required by the compliance test."