I listened to the broadcast today: Great job; intriguing topic. Embedded designers aren't a single entity and their backgrounds in this area can be very different. Explanations of the basics never hurts.
I'm with naperlou. Software may make tasks easier (FEA, or even basic CAD or 3D modeling), but without skill and experience FEA packages can be used by a novice to give false good results, and a new hire can design something in Solidworks that simply cannot be manufactured.
From what I've seen as a reporter, the aerospace industry -- specifically Boeing -- led the shift to collaboration between internal disciplines as well as external vendors. I understand a lot of the groundbreaking work started with the Joint Strike Fighter.
I know this has shifted to other industries in recent years. What I'd like to know is whether this blending of disciplines is occurring now on a widespread basis or whether it's confined to bleeding edge companies.
The webinar should be interesting. I have many years in the aerospace industty (mostly spacecraft), and there is no business that uses more disciplines on a single project. What brought all this together was the systems engineering group. Frankly, it is important to have software engineers develop software, electrical engieers (and we had several groups) and mechanical engineers (several more) do their thing. At the companies I worked for we had significant methodologies and training around systems engineering. We also used many tools in doing our work (simulation at many levels, requirements traceabiity tools). Many of the issues I see being addressed in the commercial engineering worlds, such as automotive, were dealt with and "solved" in the aerospace industry. It seems to me that each industry needs its own take on basic issues, such as safety, which is very similar to others, but separate.
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