Introduction

Engineer by day, a technology hacker by night. Ever since I can remember, I have been fascinated with electronics and I started programming in junior high school.  It seems like just yesterday I cut my teeth on C64 BASIC and PIC16 assembler language so I will always have a fondness in my heart for those amazing digital machines.  To most others, MS-DOS and versions of Windows 3.1 (yes, the one without TCP/IP built into it) are pretty alien OSes but that would just be kickin' it old school for me.  Currently working my dream jobs:
  • Senior Technical Marketing Engineer at Avnet where I get to use the latest in amazing FPGA, microcontroller, and electronics tech.
  • Raspberry Pi, Arduino Uno, and scratch hacker to promote digital lifestyle amongst friends, family, and technology newcomers.
  • Been making things since way before being a maker was a 'thing'. 
Education

While I was in high school, I got some further exposure in building electronic systems with through-hole components, at home fabricated PCBs, and hand soldering with an iron plus rosin core 60/40 Sn-Pb solder.  I got access to a PIC serial programmer to burn One Time Programmable (OTP) PIC16C54s to drive motor control systems.  Those chips cost about $2 a piece (which was insanely low-cost for a micro back then) but if you dropped $18 on the EEPROM version you could reprogram it to your heart's content.

Moving from C/C++ in high school to using Java in University at Buffalo classes was a real shock to me in how fast technology was already changing on me early in life.  It was fascinating to be programming an application that would run on a virtual machine running on top of a physical processor without having to worry about programming errors bringing everything to a screeching halt and having to reach for that worn out reset button.  Having been brought up on x86 and Microsoft products for most of my teenage years, getting used to the Unix machines that were pervasive at the university turned out to be some rather strong medicine for me.  It really is true what they say about Unix users...


Things really started to pan out when UB began to apply for ABET certification for my guinea pig class of Computer Engineers.  The school migrated from Motorola 8600 based platforms to a new ARM platform that we had never heard of before.  This move turned out to be rather pivotal for my overall career so I give my professors at the school a lot of credit for being so forward looking in their decision of calculated risk.  I made a few really good friends who decided to tackle an interesting development project for one of our senior year classes.  One of the professors approached us with a design project sponsored by Ingersoll Rand for making a cost effective industrial interface board which would allow their technicians to capture data off of their latest generation of products (pumps, flood lamps, portable electric generators) using a Palm Pilot handheld computer.  For BOM cost purposes, we implemented the brains of the Modbus to IRDA translator board using a PIC 16F877 which was like second nature to me.  It was one of the most fun projects I have gotten to work on since there were several talented students involved and we quickly 'gelled' into a team that was very determined to demonstrate a working prototype by the end of the semester.

Work History

I started my professional career working part time during university as a marketing intern and electronics repair technician.  I got to learn a lot about the importance of generating product positioning information while keeping it well formatted and easily digestible.  I also had the privilege of working among talented electronics technicians and engineers, getting exposure to process methods, the importance of following procedures, and creating trace-ability for your work within a group.

I was lucky to be migrated into a new systems engineering group where I got to help define, implement, and document new medical information systems.  This was back when new HIPAA privacy rules were being rolled out so there was a lot of attention needed to make sure that new systems would help health care providers meet their legal obligations to patients.  I also got exposure to digital systems standards such as HL7 and DICOM as we implemented testing and verification to make sure that new systems would be interoperable with other manufacturer's platforms.  I also gained experience working on Linux and QNX application development which is where my Unix background came in very handy.

After moving to Phoenix during the depths of the dot-com crash, I got to work tech support for a domain name registrar which was some great exposure to how Internet technology worked to keep all of those packets moving along.  Instead of some chintzy site on GeoCities, I started making professional ASP.net websites running on MySQL database backend (yes, those two didn't go together very well back then, but if you could find the MySQL adapter, that type of hosting was free back then) with real domain names.  Finally, I was able to make a strategic move into networking systems development and added some good experience in web development to boot.

I landed a job with a tight-nit group of hardware test engineers at a telecom company where I got to apply my Linux development background and experience in ARM processors to help develop what would eventually become the flagship PBX product of the company.  I got to touch so many new tools here and got a lot of exposure to hardware tools like high-speed digital oscilloscopes, bus analyzers, and software debuggers.  It was here where I got to touch FPGA technology for the first time and became so fascinated by their potential that I did some graduate course work at ASU to strengthen my skills around them.  



Working very closely with both Electronics Hardware Engineers and Embedded Software Engineers, I got to see the depths of the true Holy Wars accompanying the embedded computing arts.  It was here where I found the true thrill of living on the hardware/software boundary and developing skills which enabled me to solve countless problems that crop up along that fuzzy boundary where only system-level troubleshooting can have any hope for isolating root causes of 'ghost-in-the-machine' type problems.  The success of our engineering efforts and product development capability did not go unnoticed and this company was eventually acquired by a larger telecom company.


As the engineering culture there slowly changed, I moved into a small group at Avnet that was heavily involved in FPGA work.  I was involved in the creation and deployment of several development boards which helped countless customers get into emerging Xilinx FPGA chips such as Spartan-3A, Virtex-5, and Spartan-6.  As a Xilinx partner, we got early access to their latest tools in order to help accelerate our customer's time to market by giving them a basic platform upon which they could launch their own product development.  Here I found an opportunity to take up some high speed digital PCB design skills where I helped to create the industry's first Cypress PSoC 3 development board with a Spartan-6 FPGA accelerator.

After moving to another local company which worked on electric chargers, I got to put my embedded software and board design skills to work again.  Working with another very talented team of engineers through design, regulatory testing, and safety certifications, I helped to deliver a new Level 2 EVSE charger to the public within 12 months.  I got to work closely with integration and test teams of several automotive manufacturers to ensure that the new charger was compatible with new electric vehicles like Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf.

After the release of the new charger, I returned to Avnet, working in the technical marketing field where I have been able to work very closely with several silicon manufacturers and software companies to help gain market share and rapid adoption of their latest cutting edge technology with channel customers.  I developed several training courses and hands-on lab activities to help customers come up to speed with development methodology for the latest development tools on emerging chip architectures.  I also authored several reference design and tutorial documents to demonstrate key techniques and concepts to other engineers looking to adapt the latest chip technology into their next generation of products.


Traveling abroad to train others is one of the most challenging, yet rewarding, parts of technical marketing.  I get to interact with a lot of incredibly smart engineers who are employing very creative techniques to solve tough problems throughout the world.  I get to tour with the X-fest technical event around the globe and teach one or two courses during the day.  If you ever get a chance to attend one of these events, please be sure to stop by the Avnet table and say 'Hi!'.

Volunteer Work

One of the things that I love about Avnet is that the leaders are also very passionate about technology and nurturing this discipline at the university and community college level.  Each year, for over a decade now, Avnet and other local companies have sponsored the Avnet Tech Games here in Phoenix.  On game day many technology executives, engineers, and other business leaders give up an entire Saturday in April to help select scholarship winners based on student competitors’ ability to meet the technical requirements of several exciting game challenges.  For the past few years, I have been lucky enough to help run one of the games hosted on game day at the University of Advancing Technology (UAT) and seeing the level of talent that our local college students demonstrate gives me a lot of hope for our future technology leaders.


Personal Life

I am very lucky to have a partner who is supportive of my hobbies and interests.  She is the true love of my life and has given me an amazing family to support.  Together we share enjoyment of the great outdoors, exploring Arizona cultural history, and the occasional Netflix&chill.

Now that I have children of my own, whom also show interests in technology, I am proud to share some of my passion to create gadgets with them.  I feel lucky to be living in an era where we have access to widespread technology like the Arduino platform which (thanks to the work of many talented individuals around the world) has become available to anyone for costs on the order of a meal.  When I think back to the time when I was a child, such tools would have been accessible at the cost of thousands of dollars and would have required some fairly extensive knowledge to even begin to use them in a meaningful way.


I am incredibly lucky and very grateful to have worked with so many talented engineers, visionary leaders, and friendly people along the way.  I have found myself in so many 'right place at the right time' situations and I am thankful for all the black-arts knowledge bestowed upon me by my mentors.  I am happy to share my knowledge with others and coach junior engineers so that they may find their own successes in this amazing field of technology.

My areas of interest are:

My Resume is Available HERE

Elsewhere