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Process Series Post #13
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Q&A with an Electrical Engineer on the Product Development Process

Doreen Swift

Director, Electrical Engineering

EE PD Process Doreen Swift

1. What role does your team play in the product development process?

The role of the electrical engineering team has changed quite a bit over the years.  Product design seems more software-driven most recently but having a solid electrical hardware foundation is key to product robustness and reliability.  It is the electrical engineer’s responsibility to make sure the hardware components and design are appropriately sized and will scale with the customers vision.

2. In general, what competencies do you and your team bring to most projects and what are your most frequent tasks?

The IPS Electrical Engineering team offers a broad range of expertise: high-speed digital, analog, power, RF, antenna, and wireless communication (Wi-Fi, BT, and cellular) circuits.  We are most frequently involved in printed circuit board designs with varying complexities: simple 2-layer designs to multilayer, high-density types.

The AdhereTech “smart” pill bottle project challenged IPS to design a product containing hardware PCB’s, an antenna, LED’s and a rechargeable battery in a very small package while meeting FCC radio regulatory requirements. 

AdhereTech Smart Pill Bottle

3. What are some of the most unusual or difficult challenges your team has been asked to meet and how did you meet those?

The most typical and difficult challenges usually involve meeting our client’s desired schedule-timeline and cost expectations.  PD time to market is usually longer and more costly than the client anticipates—especially for the newer, startup companies.  If testing at a regulatory test lab is needed for the project, 3-6 months can be added to the timeline.  Managing client expectations is a critical part of the design process.  Establishing open communication and trust is an essential part of the process.

4. Which other IPS departments do you work most closely with and what sorts of conflicts may commonly arise that require detailed collaboration and compromise?

The Electrical group most closely works with the Embedded, Software, and the Systems Engineering teams.  The IPS functional teams are not so rigid; it is common for us to share the work across teams depending on availability and employee skill levels.  Tasks are often defined at the beginning of the project and resources are assigned but these may change during the design process.  IPS has a culture of collaboration and open communication which tends to keep conflicts to a minimum.

IPS Engineers collaborating at IPS
Joe Toro Industrial Design Process

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