The progression of technology by silicon companies is influential because what they develop drives products and puts emphasis on development.
On the leading edge of signaling technology. As a director of engineering, David Helster needs to be in tune with not just the latest technology, but future technology. TE customers expect his teams to have products and solutions in place not when they need them, but before they need them.
What current projects are you overseeing?
Our team has multiple responsibilities, including the advance development group, the signal integrity group, and the system architecture group. We’re responsible for the high speed design of components, and for knowing deep technical issues going on with customers that enable us to develop products ahead of time, anticipating customer needs.
What’s the most difficult engineering problem you’ve solved?
The biggest challenge is the tricky compromise that ensures a cost effective design that meets manufacturing and mechanical reliability and electrical performance requirements. Everything is getting smaller, speeds are increasing, there is demand for more data and bandwidth. Coming up with a design that makes all fundamental disciplines happy is key.
What new innovations will most greatly influence the industry?
Advancement of signaling technology. 25 gigabits per second (Gbps) will quickly give way to 56 Gbps. The progression of technology by silicon companies is influential because what they develop drives products and puts emphasis on development. Higher copper speeds or optics will be the next step. Manufacturing capability and performance is critical.
What drove your interest in engineering?
My interests way back were in computers. I was computer nerd in high school. That led to a curiosity about how they were built, and I went to school for computer engineering, then changed to electrical engineering. When I graduated I got into high speed communication, and have always been on the leading edge of signaling technology.
What keeps you and your customers at night?
A combination of everything. Customers want things to function at cutting edge speeds, which puts pressure on us to manufacture reliable parts that perform as they need to within customer applications. You can design a high performance product, but at the end of the day if you can’t mass produce it, or it doesn’t sell, you haven’t done your job.
If you weren’t in this industry, what would you do instead?
Probably a complete change. Teaching high school math or science. I enjoy communicating knowledge to others.