Balancing Innovation with Design Rigor and Processes

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  • Author: Tom Perkins Senior Technical Editor
I have enjoyed the privilege of being involved in design and development projects—mostly RF and microwave hardware--at many levels spanning parts of six decades. Responsibilities range from bottom-up design to leading teams of engineers and technicians. In recent years my involvement has, in part, reverted to serving as an individual contributor, which can be very rewarding. This led to several patents awards late in my career. Most projects carry very specific specifications and very short, defined schedules, requiring examination of the “critical path” schedule. Schedule slippage almost always leads to higher spending and cost overruns. Furthermore, in today’s economy, design entities must be responsible to a “customer” at a higher level up the “food chain.” The customer usually has rigid, unwavering expectations and specifications which may have been created by engineers who never get to meet the ultimate supplier/contractor.