From Concept To Market
From a USB3.0 peripheral device to a BTLE robotic toy, I've got experience designing hardware systems using the latest technologies in the consumer market. I'm an Altium Designer power-user and have built component libraries up from scratch, taking advantage of all the features currently available to speed up the design cycle and generate outputs and reports with a single click.
With a bias towards consumer electronics, I've got an eye for doing things very cost-efficiently, and have worked with some of the high-volume Asian chip manufacturers that aren't so well-known to the outside world. I have a passion for doing PCB Layouts, whether it's a dirt-cheap two layer board that can be fabbed for pennies overseas, or a multi-layer high-density board which pushes the limits of modern fabrication technologies. I'm well-versed in DFM and keep these best practices in mind from the very first board rev. I'm very much hands-on and have no trouble assembling PCBs with fine-pitch SMT components. In fact, I love the challenge of bringing up new boards.
I've navigated through the rough seas of compliance testing (FCC, Bluetooth SIG, etc) and have launched products with CMs in the SF Bay Area as well as in mainland China. I've been working in hardware startups since 2012 so I am quite used to being part of a small team and accomplishing big milestones with limited resources. If you're looking for a passionate engineer to help bring your device to market, let's talk!
Analog / RF Design
PCB Layout / DFM
Firmware Dev & Debug
Hardware Testing & Validation
MS Visual Studio
IAR Embedded Workbench
Attended Politecnico di Milano on Full Scholarship
Entered Industry as Design Engineer at GE Advanced Sensors
Joined Saleae as Hardware Engineer
Started at Wonder Workshop as Hardware Engineer
- Circuit Design & Component Selection
- Schematic Capture, & PCB Layout
- Prototyping / PCB Bring-Up / Rework
- Design Validation & Failure Analysis
- Compliance Testing & Certification
- Support our CM in China
- Schematic capture, simulation, and board layouts
- PCB bring-up, debug, rework, and validation
- Component Selection and Supply Chain Management
- Support production of existing products
- Technical Customer Support
GE Advanced Sensors
- Supported development and launch of embedded RF sensor
- Test bench design and automation
- PCB bring-up, debug, and rework. FA on field returns
- Automation of functional testing + implementation of SPC
Politecnico di Milano
- Awarded Full Academic Scholarship
- Admitted into the 7th Cycle of Alta Scuola Politecnica
- Completed only first year, deferred to enter industry
Pennsylvania State University - The Behrend College
- 3.43 / 4.00 Cumulative GPA
- Completed Behrend Honors and Scholars Program
- Member of Tau Beta Nu - Engineering Honor Society
- First Place in IEEE Region 2 Student Paper Competition
Pennsylvania State University - The Behrend College
- Earned concurrently with EE Degree
- First to complete dual EE/CE degree in 8 semesters
- 60-Hour Teaching Certificate
- Certificate Number TO0011132
ECAD Best Practices
Altium Designer Level-Up - KELVIN II
I designed the Kelvin II as a sample Altium Designer project that could be used to exercise and evaluate some various features of Altium Designer that I wasn't currently using in the workplace. I had watched a handful of videos on the matter, but I wanted to try it out first hand. The design features schematic re-use via Device Sheets, a fully-featured integrated library where the symbols are linked to Digikey for parameters and pricing, and the footprints all include accurate 3D models. Using the Supplier Links on components allows one to take advantage of Altium's ActiveBOM feature which allows for design decisions to be made with insight into the cost and supply risk. I also created company templates for schematics, PCBs, BOMs, and an output job file to easily and repeatably generate top-notch manufacturing outputs. After test driving the features with this project and presenting them to the team, the decision was made to adopt these best-practices for use in our active projects. As a reward for my efforts on greatly improving our ECAD efficiency, my boss had me ship the board, order the BOM and build it on the company's tab. Since there is no intention of ever bringing this device to market I'm able to publish aspects of the design you see in the photos above.
So that's all nice, but .... what is it? Well, I'm glad you asked. The Kelvin II is a two-channel thermocouple USB interface. Each thermocouple is connected to a MAX31855, which is an amplifier and 14-bit ADC with an SPI-compatible digital interface in a single IC. This chip is also able to compensate for the proper junction type of the thermocouple. They make it for 7 different types, but I chose to build it for just the 4 most common: T, E, K, and J type thermocouple junctions. Each of these ICs is connected to a PIC16F1459. It's a relatively new offering from Microchip and is one of the smallest and cheapest USB1.1 compliant microcontrollers available. The remainder of the PCBA is comprised of an RGB LED, 3.3V and 5.0V LDOs, an Atmel Crypto-IC, and the supporting resistors and capacitors.
This sample project barely scratches the surface in terms of design complexity of the actual projects I work on. However, I am sure that you can understand why I can't publicly share the design files for the commercial products I develop. This is meant just to get the conversation started.
Dash & Dot - Smart Robots For Curious Minds
What engineer could resist the opportunity to make robots for kids?! In my role on the HW/FW team at Wonder Workshop, I helped bring an impressive toy to market on an extremely tight schedule. Click to find out some tech details about these robots.
While I was a student at Penn State, this would have saved me hours of painful debugging; however I jumped on the opportunity to ensure that not another student would have to suffer through the same situation ever again. Click to find out which lab project students no longer have to struggle through.
RF Soot Sensor
Embedded Systems, RF, Automotive
In my time at GE, I had the opportunity to work on a really unique product. As a new graduate in EE, I never imagined I'd find myself becoming an expert on diesel exhaust aftertreatment systems. Click to learn about an RF Sensor that's reducing harmful emissions of diesel engines across the world.
Consumer Electronics, Test & Measurement
In early 2012 I bought a Logic Analyzer that changed my life. It was the most impressive engineering tool I had ever used, so I quit my job at GE and moved across the country to work for the brothers who made it. Click here to see how I helped them make it even better.
Embedded Systems, RF, DSP
While the majority of projects from my academic career weren't anything special worth mentioning, there were a few that were memorable enough that I'd like to highlight. Click here to find out which project won 1st Place at the 2010 IEEE Region 2 Student Activities Conference.
|Music Theory - Playing Guitar & Piano|
|Web Development - HTML/CSS/LAMP|
|Travel, Cultures & Languages - Couchsurfing|
|Forrest Gump - Scrubs - HIMYM|
|Juggling - Unicycling|
What you are will show in what you do.
- Thomas A. Edison
Questions? Comments? I'd love to hear what's on your mind.
Dash & Dot
Taking a robot design from 2 to 20k+ units in under a year
Dash & Dot made it to mass production just in time to ship all the pre-orders to our crowdfunding backers before Christmas 2014. The path to get there was quite a journey, as it's quite the complicated toy, but it was a great experience. The full electronics system of Dash consists of 11 PCBs and includes quite the variety of technologies such as Bluetooth LE, a smart battery charging solution (BC 1.2), IR sensing, MEMS inertial sensing, and audio sensing & playback. The brains consist of three ARM M0 devices.
The initial design of the robot was developed by contractors prior to Wonder Workshop (formerly Play-I) raising venture capital and hiring the engineering team (myself included). Two units of the intial design were built by hand for use in demos and promo videos, but by the time we were ready for production, almost every major component from the initial design had been replaced either for improved performance or lower cost.
One of the keys to getting the product into mass production in time for holiday shipments was to get units through all of the compliance testing. Sure, we had to pass FCC testing, and get the Bluetooth SIG stamp of approval, but we also had to get through all the additional testing required for toys. Surprisingly we breezed through FCC and the notoriously difficult tests, but got hung up with the brightness of the blue channel in our RGB LEDs -- that's a story for another time.
I've been purposely vague in hopes that this small teaser inspires a lot of questions and curiosity. Please ask me about my role in the NPI process and lessons learned while getting these robots to market. I promise it will be an interesting conversation.
While I'd never want anyone to believe that writing code for desktop applications is more fun than programming in low-level languages for embedded devices, it's actually not so bad. Far from the land of "branch", "jump", and "W registers", I developed two protocol analyzers which are shipping with our Saleae Logic desktop software. Developed in C++ using MS Visual Studio 2012, the PS/2 Analyzer is my delayed response to an otherwise traumatizing FPGA lab project I had to do as a junior at Penn State.
I was working on a project with a Xilinx Spartan 3E board to interface a PS/2 Keyboard with the FPGA board to accept user input. Unfortunately it wasn't going as smoothly as one would hope, and I spent all night in the lab trying to capture the signals with an old oscilloscope (green CRT display type, not the nice ones available now) and decode the signals by hand to figure out which characters were coming in and how the FSM I implemented was failing to decode all cases properly. I ended up getting it working at 6am, so I instead of sleeping I just went and ate a nice breakfast and then went to classes as usual. Now this was a story of hard-earned success, but the moment I started using the Saleae Logic, I couldn't help but think of how useful the device would have been in this situation, saving hours of my time. When I learned that they hadn't yet released a PS/2 Analyzer, I felt it was my calling to develop it so no student would ever struggle through the same situation as myself. Whether it's because of this analyzer or because PS/2 is pretty much an antiquated protocol, it's fair to say that engineering students are no longer suffering with this same project.
The second analyzer, which is currently in beta, is for the Modbus protocol, which is commonly used with PLCs in industrial control systems. Source code for the PS/2 Analyzer is freely available as part of the Saleae Analyzer SDK, and I anticipate that the Modbus code will arrive in the same place after it matures out of beta and into a production release.
RF Soot Sensor
CAT + GE Team Up To Lower Emissions
AT GE Advanced Sensors, I was working on an RF embedded sensor product line which was developed in a partnership with Caterpillar. CAT developed and owned the IP (See US Patent #US20120158242 A1) however they were unable to successful develop a success hardware product that passed their own rigorous requirements, so they formed a relationship with GE to bring this idea to market. The RF Soot Sensor was essentially a Network Analyzer with a CAN interface that is able to survive being strapped to the exhaust system of bulldozers, dump trucks, and other heavy machinery for years at a time without affecting it's performance.
The demand for this product was huge, as this RF Soot Sensing technology is much more accurate than the currently used delta-P method. This translates to a 1 - 3% savings in diesel fuel consumption annually on each piece of equipment which has one of these sensors installed, which on commercial mining machinery that is running nearly 24/7, this can be upwards of $10k saved per year. Even the U.S. Department of Energy gave funding to further study this concept with the intent that it could even further tighten the emissions requirements by law since a technology had been developed making it possible. The images above are from one of these studies funded by the U.S. Department of Energy. It also reduces down-time by reducing the number of damaging "thermal events" inside the filter. Anyways, I could spend hours discussing just how useful and game-changing this sensor is, however I must be mindful of the level of detail that I can publish without crossing any lines. Let's just say that many equipment manufacturers knew that CAT had developed something that was big, and they were worried about it.
Three versions of this sensor were created. The first version was a bit rough around the edges and was released on a quick schedule to get CAT several thousand sensors to get out in the field and start proving their IP as well as demonstrate to them that we're able to ship them hardware which meets their requirements. It was at this point that I joined GE and began working on this project. While I came on board after the core product had been designed, I was heavily involved in testing and validation of the PCB. I also designed, built, and automated the test bench used to validate the product to the full CAT spec. I supported the entire assembly line with the automation of their testing and tracking equipment, and also implemented SPC on the production line to provide insightful trends to the engineering team. As GE was interested in learning more about the actual usage of this hardware in regards to engine performance (ie reverse engineering CAT's IP), I also spent significant time in diesel engine test cells and took a SAE's course on Advanced Diesel Aftertreatment Systems.
I hope the lack of specific details in this article will raise a lot of questions, so feel free to contact me so we can further discuss this project and my particular role and accomplishments.
A sneak-peak at the second generation of Saleae devices
This series of images reflects my work on the new family of products at Saleae. The product has been on the market for over a year now and some customers have posted teardowns in online forums, like this one. From concept validation to production ready form-factor PCB, I owned the PCB layouts from beginning to end. Some highlights of the designs include high-density double-sided placements, blind vias, and USB3.0 SuperSpeed support. I also supported production of the current products, but the real fun was working on the new stuff. The primary differentiator on these products is that they are outfitted with a full analog front end to support 1 to 16 simultaneously analog signals, depending on the model. Be sure to check out our website to see some high-quality images, tech specs, and even order one for your lab.
I also assembled several of the boards myself, depending on our tech's priorities on the day everything arrived. I may not have the hands of a surgeon, but I still somehow managed to place those 0201 components on the board without too much effort. The hot air gun is my weapon of choice when it comes to rework, although a soldering iron with a fine tip will make happy too.
Pennsylvania State University - The Behrend College
Insightful Projects, Award-Winning Results
A semester-long project which started with a bare PCB and surface mount components and each week was taken further and further. Week 1 of the project began with learning how to do SMT assembly by hand and reflowing the board on a hot plate, the following week we learned how to do board bring-up and resolve any issues from assembly. We also were able to load a test program to verify board functionality. Then we used the board each week for a new exercise in embedded system design. We wrote the functions needed for USART, then for the LCD, I2C, and for a few others. The board featured a PIC18F MCU but the catch was that we had to complete the project each week without using any of Microchips libraries, everything had to be coded from scratch. The course finished with a personalized project, where I chose to use an accelerometer and an 8x8 LED display to simulate a marble rolling on a platform. You can watch the video here and browse the presentation here.
As an elective, I took an RF/Microwave signals course my final semester. The professor had years of industry experience, working at RFMD before coming to teach at Penn State, and it really paid off. She was able to get RFMD to sponsor the course she was teaching by loaning the university some top-of-line test equipment and getting the department a few seats of Agilent's ADS software. Having access to such an incredible set up, we were able to design and verify our projects. I elected to build a 3-stage Wilkinson divider. This was designed using ADS and then routed using an LPKF mill and then was verified using a network analyzer. It's not often in university that a project is carried out in a manner so similar to that in industry so it was great to do something that was hands-on and with advanced equipment. Unfortunately all photos of this project have been lost over time, but that doesn't make it any less memorable to me.
Another course which fascinated me very much was an elective I took called Biomedical Signal Processing. In this course we focused on learning the various techniques and algorithms used to process common biomedical signals such as ECG (heart) or EEG (brain). For several weeks we focused on how to filter noisy ECG signals in order to accurately detect heart beats. Here's an old lab report from this course that shows exactly what I mean. Then we took that a step further and learned how to process this wave to detect the presence of particular heart problems, such as aortic insufficiency which present as a particular type of heart murmur. Click here to view a presentation I presented on this topic. The course was MATLAB intensive, it wasn't just the theory of how to do it, we were actually doing it, and it was great. And to top it all off, we also built our own ECG device on a breadboard to capture our own heartbeats and process them. This was done by creating an instrumentation amplifier to drive the an ADC input of a PIC microcontroller, which in turn pumped the data over a USART / Virtual COM Port directly into MATLAB for processing with code.
Lastly, Wireless Bike Shifter, which was the capstone project of my engineering degree, was nominated to represent Penn State at the 2010 IEEE Region2 Student Activities Conference being held at Temple University, Philadelphia. There we (myself and two colleagues) gave a formal presentation accompanied with a technical report of our project. We competed against presenters from 16 other top engineering schools and came out on top, taking home first place. This paved the way for my university to host the conference the following year. As a junior I also won a small prize from the Erie chapter of IEEE for my project "FPGA Color Detection".