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May 11, 2001

Vendor 1 or 2 Day Seminars

In the last several weeks I have attended three vendor seminars, the On Semiconductor SMPS Seminar, the National Semiconductor Analog Application Seminar, and the Texas Instruments Unitrode Products Power Design Seminar, all near the John Wayne Airport in Irvine, California -- 51 miles and two grid-locked freeway hours from home. One thing each of these seminars have in common is a star presenter with a supporting cast: Ray Ridley for On Semiconductor, Bob Pease for National Semiconductor, and Laszlo Balogh for Texas Instruments. Each seminar drew over a hundred attendees. These seminars have several advantages over conferences.

  • Affordable - Ranging from free to less than $100, an engineer can afford to go even if their company does not reimburse them. Since most engineers are on salary, they can usually take a day to attend, even if they have to make up the time. The seminars are at locations around the world so travel time and expense is minimized.
  • Hot topics - A conference accepts all papers that make the cut - which may or may not include the hot topics of interest to the designer. The vendors know where the interest is and select their topics accordingly.
  • Expert Knowledge - The star presenters are world-class experts in their field. Often the supporting cast is also pretty knowledgeable. You can't help but learn from these people -- no matter how much you think you know about a subject.
  • Relevant handouts - Seminar viewgraphs, applicable papers and application notes, design software and computer models, and free evaluation parts, all invite the designer to move from mere awareness to actual design with the vendor's parts. This is knowledge meant to be applied!
  • Focused - The limited topics avoid cognitive overload. You might actually try to apply what you learned the next day.
  • Networking - These seminars, with their included breakfast buffets, breaks, and lunch, are an ideal way to get to know and network with your local peers and share common problems and solutions. The size is perfect. Greater than the half dozen or so that might attend a local professional society meeting, but less than the fractional thousand that attend a conference.

So what am I trying to say? Any engineer that does not attend these seminars, shy of risking getting fired because the project can't afford their absence, does a great disservice to their professional development and to the company that employs them. Besides -- if you are so important to the project, the risk of getting fired is small.

More about the three seminars in future Blogs.

For more information about the seminars your can try the vendor's main pages and drill down to find them.

Posted by Jerrold Foutz at May 11, 2001 09:50 AM