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Dennis Feucht

The Engineering Desk-to-Bench Ratio

Dennis Feucht
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Scott Elder
Scott Elder
11/12/2014 3:23:17 PM
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Modified Formula
Hi Dennis,

Nice succinct way to discuss engineering approaches.

Having spent the majority of my career in the integrated domain, my desk/bench ratio has to be reported using logarithms!

One twist on your blog is that we who work in the integrated domain don't have the luxury of "checking things out".  Checking out a component value can cost $100,000 and potentially months of schedule time.  So most IC designers don't have much choice in the matter.

That's also the reason that it is tough to land a job right out of school doing IC design.  One really needs that <<1 ratio at the beginning of a career.  I know it sure helped me.

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GSKrasle
GSKrasle
11/14/2014 12:52:26 PM
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'the physical universe has a rational and trustworthy underpinning'
Dennis,

 In a flippant way, I sometimes pretend frustration that 'I have yet to find an opportunity to write a paper overturning the Known Laws of Physics, because every design misbehaviour, every one SO-FAR, has come-down to something understandable, in-principle predictable, and often just a 'D'oh!' no matter how confusing, mysterious and frustrating at first apprehension.'

By this I intend to impress upon myself, and my audience, the precedent that diligence and contemplation (and research) have always eventually provided solutions, experience/intuition and theory being, of course, salutary.

I also say to myself, when facing a dauntingly complex or unfamiliar new assignment: 'it may be confusing, incomprehensible, right now to me, but SOMEBODY has understood it or does now, and so it is within my grasp should I apply enough diligence.'

Despair never solved a problem, passed a test, completed a contract or put victuals on the table.

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D Feucht
D Feucht
11/14/2014 2:25:27 PM
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Scott & GS
Scott,

Thanks for your example of where desk/bench > 1 is a necessity, in IC design. At Tek, in the rubylith days, designers would hang their IC layouts on the walls of the engineering building and others would stand around, looking for flaws in them, with some token reward if/when found. I remember in particular that George Wilson, inventor of the Wilson current mirror, would do this, and most of my discussion with him was in front of an IC layout on the wall!

GS,

Thanks for the encouragement and advice to those bogged down with seemingly unsolvable circuits situations. One of the reasons many of us became engineers instead of politicians is that we prefer to work with the most reliable Administrator of the universe versus those on the other end of that spectrum. As Henry Kissinger once said, "Corrupt poiliticians make the other 10 % look bad." Happily, we do not face that problem in our work on the bench.

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DaeJ
DaeJ
11/16/2014 4:12:52 PM
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Master
Balance of Theoretical and Practical Way
If ratio is equal to 1, then engineers might interpret themselves that they did both theoretical and practical way for any assignment. Today, computer or any kind of tool will support both two characteristics, which is important for engineer, since any engineering tool is so much advanced. I guess that some case might not fit to this formulation because engineer might face so many variety cases.  Ratio could be a baseline for engineer daily work.

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Myanalog
Myanalog
11/18/2014 1:59:45 AM
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Desk to Bench Ratio
"In companies I have been to, engineers usually are given both a desk and a workbench. The desk is where plan design and non-technical overhead is performed. It is the realm of, and symbolizes, theoretical activity. The bench is where prototypes are built and made to work -- the symbol of experimental or practical activity. The bench has measurement equipment, circuit construction tools, and parts inventory is not far away."

Dennis, in some of the companies employees are rotating between desk and work bench. Now a day's managers are good enough to utilize the employees working times. So for off project time they use to make use employees skills for bench projects (off shelf projects). 

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aklompe
aklompe
11/18/2014 6:39:16 AM
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Teacher
Re: Scott & GS
"One of the reasons many of us became engineers instead of politicians is that we prefer to work with the most reliable Administrator of the universe versus those on the other end of that spectrum."

 

That is a very nice way to say you cannot fool nature. It's is this reliability that makes it possible to discover the laws of nature during a persons life time. Human nature lacks this reliability, maybe that's why we never seem to be able to solve big problems in the world around us, simple because no one gets to the expert level required to do so.

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D Feucht
D Feucht
11/18/2014 11:16:59 PM
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Re: Scott & GS
"... we never seem to be able to solve big problems in the world around us, simple because no one gets to the expert level required to do so."

I don't think it is a lack of expertise that keeps social problems from being solved but rather a faulty exercise of the will by too many of us, starting with those at the top of the social order.

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Myanalog
Myanalog
11/20/2014 4:10:22 AM
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Re: Scott & GS
"That is a very nice way to say you cannot fool nature. It's is this reliability that makes it possible to discover the laws of nature during a persons life time."

Aklompe, that's true. Nobody can fool nature and it has its own rhythm. 

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tzubair
tzubair
11/26/2014 12:31:09 PM
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Master
Re: Scott & GS
"One of the reasons many of us became engineers instead of politicians is that we prefer to work with the most reliable"

@D Feucht: I think that's certainly a trait common in engineers that they want to work with concrete ideas and proven facts rather than abstract debates (which politicians are somewhat good at). I think most people who end up becoming engineers and are succesful in their careers have had such traits since very early in their lives.

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tzubair
tzubair
11/26/2014 12:36:40 PM
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Master
Re: Modified Formula
"That's also the reason that it is tough to land a job right out of school doing IC design.  One really needs that <<1 ratio at the beginning of a career.  I know it sure helped me."

@Scott: That's exactly the advice I give out to fresh graduates these days that they need to get their hands dirty rather than look for the comfort behind the desks. Unfortunately, the culture these days encourage jobs which are more stable and don't require a lot of hands-on tasks. 

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