How Do You Master Technology?

by | September 13, 2019

How do you get good at product development or electronics design? Let’s face it. New electronics and software are part of any gadget. From simple electronic toys at the supermarket checkout line (that one your kid must have), to future immersive gaming systems with holographic imaging. I am so glad that all of us at A-WIT are always doing something to become better designers and trying to have fun doing it. So, the question remains: How do you get good at electronics design?

This reminds me of a joke. A writer met a photographer at a party and said “I’ve seen your work; it’s great. You must have a superb camera!” The photographer replied: “I’ve read your latest novel; it’s great. You must have a superb word processor.”

Somehow, the notion that a superb word processing program is enough to make a great novel seems more absurd than the notion that a superb camera is enough to make a great photograph. That’s why the joke is funny.

In reality, of course, it takes a great writer or photographer to produce great literature or photography. Good tools help; nevertheless, tools are not enough by themselves.

This reality is seen in the teaching of writing and photography. Writers’ workshops do not spend time discussing word processors. Instead, they give writers the opportunity for other writers to analyze their work. Photography workshops usually spend much less time talking about cameras and lenses than they spend on analyzing photographs to understand what makes them good and how to improve them. When it comes to electronics design, the development of expertise using the tools is more important than the tools themselves.

Like photography, electronics design depends on technology, so we are similarly tempted to believe that the technology will do more for us than it really does. For example, one easy way to recognize a beginning designer is that a beginner’s first step toward solving a system problem is often to look at the solution of the problem through the prism of the actual tools or components that will be used to design the solution.

More experienced designers will begin by thinking about algorithms, data structures, and interfaces that might solve the problem, rather than starting with the components that might implement those interfaces, algorithms, and data structures. Designers with much more experience will begin by looking carefully at the problem and understanding exactly what properties the solution needs to have. Do they have to change in the future? In what ways? What interface should it have? Once we think we have a solution, how do we test it? Are there any parts that are intrinsically difficult to test? And so on.

Experienced designers no longer need to think about the details of their tools, any more than experienced photographers need to think about the details of their cameras. Indeed, it is reasonable to define a good designer as one that has mastered the fundamentals to the point that he doesn’t have to think about them anymore.

So, it comes down to mastering the fundamentals and continuously growing expertise, applying it to your problem, and using tools that reinforce your solutions.

Do you want a master of technology on your side? Contact us!