Reading time ( words)
During PCB West, Scott McCurdy of Freedom CAD Services sat down with me for an interview. We discussed Freedom CAD’s latest news, some trends in PCB design software tools, and the continuing need to draw more young people into a career in PCB design.
Tim Haag: I am here with Scott McCurdy, director of sales and marketing for Freedom CAD Services in Orange County. How has the show been going for you?
Scott McCurdy: This is the third year that we've attended this show. Fortunately we got into row 4, aisle 400 this year, which is a lot better than where we were before on the outside row. Today it was busy from 10 am until the middle part of lunchtime, when things thinned out a little bit.
We have had a lot of people come by who we only see once a year, and we’ve acquired some new leads. There’s no place like Silicon Valley for the core of the PCB design world. PCB West has been doing a great show for 26 years, and it’s been run really well.
I’ve attended this conference many times individually. Freedom CAD, however, didn't start exhibiting at PCB West until we ended up deciding to leave DesignCon. We found PCB West to be more suited towards the market that we're looking for and the potential customers here.
Haag: What is new at Freedom CAD these days?
McCurdy: We are currently one of the largest independent full-service PCB design companies in north America. And we have a lot of things that we offer around the printed circuit board layout. We offer EEs who do hardware engineering up front and other engineering services such as signal integrity, power integrity and mechanical engineering. It seems like almost everything these days is very high-speed and highly constrained. We are unique in that we support the 4 most popular CAD tool flows, which allows us to accommodate most potential customers.
One things that is new for us is the increase in the number of Altium users. Here at PCB West we are enjoying talking to people and learning who else might be looking to expand their horizons with us.
I have been the president of the Orange County IPC Designers Council for 15 years, and it’s one of the largest chapters in the country. One thing that continues to be a challenge is that the designer community is getting older, and we are not replacing those seats with new recruits. I think as an industry, we need to look a little harder at how we are going to do that. I believe that’s one thing we can do at this show—help raise awareness. Somehow we need to start recruiting the next-generation designers.
Haag: I agree with that. This seems to be a common concern throughout the industry which I have run into in many different places.
McCurdy: It is the folks who are in my age group who came up laying tape, and designed boards in the early days with very slow computers and poor software solutions, but obviously we've seen that change with every passing year. It just makes it harder to learn since today’s circuit boards are extremely complicated. You're not just going to be a draftsman and enter into this field, which was the path 30 or 40 years ago. We need to find a better solution to bring the younger population into this. I don't have the answers; I'm just asking the questions. How can we do it?
Haag: I understand. Is there anything else you’d like to add?
McCurdy: No, I think that’s about it.
Haag: Thank you for your time. I appreciate you speaking with me.
McCurdy: My pleasure. It was good to see you again.