Editor’s note: I am pleased to have Aubrey Kagan back as a blogger for us on Planet Analog after a brief sabbatical. Aubrey brings a wealth of diverse design knowledge, Excel tips with a technical, educational, reminiscent, and light, witty style.
Aubrey Kagan was born and grew up in Zimbabwe (it was Rhodesia back then). He has a BSEE from the Israel Institute of Technology (Haifa, Israel) and an MBA from the University of Witwatersrand (Johannesburg, South Africa). Here is his story.
When I graduated with my MBA, there was a recession in South Africa and I returned to engineering in order to find employment. I stayed there ever since. A lot of my blogs describe the arc of my career- I will give the links to some of them below.
I started out working for Racal in military telecommunications (Have You Ever Been Blindsided by Your Own Design?) and was encouraged to get into microcomputers. I started my own business, Quantum Electronic Design, to leverage my knowledge (one eyed man in the land of the blind) in industrial design.
How It Was: PCB Layout from Rubylith to Dot and Tape to CAD
How It Was: Programmable Logic
Allowing Microcontrollers to Learn About Their Environments
How a Coffee Packaging Machine Educated Me
Think before you leap
I discovered that long term consulting paid the bills a little better and so I joined a company named Zylab which morphed through several turns to consulting for a subsidiary of de Beers.
Diamonds are Forever
When I moved to Canada in 1989 I got a job in the aerospace industry (Spar Aerospace/MacDonald Dettwiler Associates) working on the Canadarm 2 (the robotic arm on the International Space Station)
My time as a rocket scientist
I then returned to industrial electronics at the German connector manufacturer Weidmuller which was later spun off into Emphatec, Inc. I am currently Engineering Manager there. (many, many blogs are about my 25 year sojourn - see list later)
Up until Weidmuller I had very little to do with analog design, normally converting an analog signal to digital at the very first opportunity. However, being in industrial signal interfacing has necessitated that I get a little closer. I can’t claim to be an expert, nor that I am comfortable with analog, but I do more than dabble and I seem to be relatively successful at smaller designs. It has also allowed me to work with a multitude of designs, industries and approaches
I started writing in a long defunct South African magazine in an attempt to drum up business, with little success. That morphed into some design ideas published in EDN and Electronic Design (see lists below). My supervisor thought I had a talent for writing and urged me to write an article and when the right opportunity presented itself I wrote it for Circuit Cellar (and republished on Planet Analog (An AC Current Generator An AC Current Generator, Part 1, An AC Current Generator, Part 2, An AC Current Generator, Part 3, and An AC Current Generator, Part 4)). I took to writing some more articles for Circuit Cellar (see list) and in the process I then came up with an article on the use of Microsoft Excel in electronics. This idea was developed and published as a book “Excel by Example: A Microsoft Excel Cookbook for Electronics Engineers”. Since then it seems every time I have an opportunity to use Excel, I create a model and end up writing about it as a design idea or a blog on Planet Analog (see list). One offbeat idea on using Excel to create a Traceability Matrix became one of the top design ideas of 2005 in Electronic Design.
Max Maxfield enticed me to write a few guest blogs on “The Way Things Were” and then Rich Quinnell persuaded me to write for Microcontroller Central. When that folded I wrote for EE Times and Planet Analog. EE Times transferred its focus to embedded.com and I moved with it. (see lists)
Starting up in South Africa at the beginning of the microcomputer revolution allowed me to get involved with many ideas, especially since the physical and political distance meant that we had to re-invent the wheel. In industrial interfacing there are many different technologies and every industry has its own techniques and sacred cows to say nothing of very targeted ideas and so my exposure to different technologies has been quite widespread albeit at a rather simple level.
EETimes blogs, Design Ideas and Incidentals
Excel Related Publications
Planet Analog Blogs.
Without a Paddle (embedded.com)