Eric Bogatin: Meet DesignCon’s Engineer of the Year

-January 21, 2016

I first met Eric Bogatin some years ago at DesignCon, and he quickly became one of my favorite people. Some people are just born teachers, and Eric is certainly one of them. This year, I had the distinct honor to take part in awarding him the DesignCon Engineer of the Year Award at DesignCon 2016 in Santa Clara, CA.

Sponsored by National Instruments, this award is given each year at DesignCon to an engineer who stands out for his or her commitment to high-speed designdemonstrating leadership, creativity, and out-of-the-box thinking in the design and/or test of chips, boards, or systems, with particular attention to areas of signal and power integrity. In addition to the honor (and trophy), winners get to designate a $10,000 scholarship or grant to the institution of their choice, courtesy of National Instruments. The finalists for the award are nominated by their peers, and the winner is determined by popular vote.

I was able to catch up with Eric on his thoughts about winning the award and DesignCon, here’s some of what he had to say.

EDN: Tell us a little about your history with DesignCon.

Eric Bogatin (EB): I was invited by Dave Balandi, then at HP, to present at the first DesignCon in Santa Clara, back in 1991, on work I was doing on package characterization with an LCZ analyzer. He pulled together about a dozen consultants who were using HP instruments to solve signal integrity problems. I don’t even think we called it signal integrity. I think we referred to the field as “high-speed digital design.” Even the term signal integrity didn’t start to appear in our presentations for a couple of years.

We worked so well together, Dave decided to “take the show on the road” and packed us, and a truck full of equipment, up and we did a five city tour of the US and then did our presentations in Japan and the UK. As a relatively small group, we got to know each other really well. I learned a lot about signal integrity from the other experts I worked with, about how important marketing is to push the acceptance of an idea, and how valuable personal relationships are in a professional environment.

I’ve been coming to DesignCon ever since. I still learn a lot at each conference, still renew and develop my personal relationships with my peers and have a chance to feel the pulse of our industry reflected in the conference.
EDN: What makes the DesignCon experience/community special to you?

EB: In the early days, DesignCon was the event that helped accelerate me up the signal integrity learning curve. I still learn new things when I attend DesignCon, but since I moved away from Silicon Valley, I’ve found the most value for me at DesignCon is the chance to meet up with old acquaintances and forge new relationships. It is the premiere networking event for the signal integrity field.

Anyone doing anything in the SI/PI fields is bound to be at DesignCon. Most of the projects I’ve worked on and the business ventures I’ve explored were forged from discussions at DesignCon.

We live in an electronically connected world with instant worldwide communication at our fingertips. But, there is no substitute to face-to-face time. DesignCon is the one event a year where most of the folks I want to see are probably going to attend. I think the opportunity to see old friends is what I look forward to the most each year at DesignCon.

EDN: What does it mean to you to have your peers select you as Engineer of the Year?

EB: I am thrilled and honored to be selected as the DesignCon Engineer of the Year. Just having been nominated and making the finalist list was a thrill. I felt honored to be in the company of some of the industry experts like Istvan Novak, Bob Schaefer, and the late Steve Weir. These are the experts I’ve learned most of what I know from. All I can think is it must have been all the chocolates I threw out to engineers taking my classes that bribed them to vote for me.

Eric tosses a participant a chocolate at DesignCon 2016.

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