Reading time ( words)
Lukas Trumpler is a young PCB designer from Germany who designs boards for sensors with ITK Engineering GmbH. I recently met with Lukas and spoke with him about his job, what he’s learned in this industry so far, and his impressions of his first AltiumLive event.
Andy Shaughnessy: Lukas, nice to meet you. Give us a little bit of background about yourself. How long have you been in the industry?
Lukas Trumpler: I started in 2017 with the RAM Group, which is my first job after graduating with my master’s degree. At first, I studied microsystems and nanotechnologies, but then I decided to go into electrical engineering and found that company, where I was an engineer for the programming of BGA and microcontrollers. Then, I found the designing of the hardware to be very interesting and necessary for me as a software engineer, which I’m doing most of the time to understand what’s going on there. I also started to do hardware designing. Now, I’m with ITK Engineering GmbH.
Shaughnessy: Is your degree in software?
Trumpler: My degree is more theoretical engineering—not software or hardware, but more what’s going on in the semiconductor.
Shaughnessy: That could come in handy. What are some of the biggest daily challenges of your job?
Trumpler: The biggest challenge was to learn three programming languages at one time, as well as how to design a PCB correctly.
Shaughnessy: What applications do the boards you design go into? What are the final products?
Trumpler: Read-out systems for sensors based on low energy, small sizes, low costs, and Wi-Fi.
Shaughnessy: If somebody was coming into the industry now as a young designer, what advice would you have for them?
Trumpler: Learn by doing. Try, make mistakes, and learn from them. Mistakes are important for learning and making steps forward in becoming a designer.
Shaughnessy: And it’s good that you work at a company that will send you to an event like this.
Trumpler: Training is very important, and this is my first time at AltiumLive. If I had this training before, some of my designs would have been better; now, I see that other people make these mistakes too (laughs).
Shaughnessy: You mentioned that you primarily designed prototypes, correct?
Trumpler: Yes. The plan is to build our prototypes to show what our sensors can do. Most companies interested in our systems only want our sensors—not read-out. We might build a system to implement a part of our read-out and make it easier for the companies to build the sensor, but the reader itself should stay in prototype stages.
Shaughnessy: When you were in college, did any companies try to recruit you, or did your college have any relationships with industry companies?
Trumpler: Yes, there were relationships with MathWorks, and we learned MATLAB.
Shaughnessy: Was your original plan to be a circuit board designer?
Trumpler: No, the first idea was getting a Ph.D. in semiconductor designing, but then I became interested in doing that kind of support for this company and improving myself. There was a huge spectrum where I could improve myself in this company, and that’s why I shifted aside the Ph.D.
Shaughnessy: What have you thought of the classes at this event?
Trumpler: The EMI classes were interesting. Rick Hartley opened the door for me and showed me the world of EMI, especially because we had some mistakes in designing PCBs in that area; this would be a nice solution for our systems.
Shaughnessy: Do you have many friends your age who are interested in electronics?
Trumpler: My friends are more interested in working with modular systems like Arduino; their interest is in building robots and drones, and it’s a proven concept that works. They ask me things like, “Could you do a design that is smaller than this existing system that I can fit it in my drone?” I can help with that.
Shaughnessy: When you were in college, did you get any sort of instruction on circuit boards, or were you able to design any?
Trumpler: We had one lecture where we were shown how to design PCB boards for proof of concept, but not high frequency. Unfortunately, that’s all the PCB design we did. We didn’t have the chance to use Altium; instead, we used Eagle. Altium has many more opportunities for work.
Shaughnessy: Thank you for your time.