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Q&A: PowerElectronics.com’s Sam Davis

Oct. 15, 2016
In addition to serving as editor-in-chief of Electronic Design’s sister brand, PowerElectronics.com, Sam Davis is the author of Computer Data Displays, was a recipient of the Jesse Neal Award for trade press editorial excellence, and holds a patent for naval ship construction that simplifies electronic system integration.
In addition to serving as editor-in-chief of Electronic Design’s sister brand, PowerElectronics.com, Sam Davis is the author of Computer Data Displays, was a recipient of the Jesse Neal Award for trade press editorial excellence, and holds a patent for naval ship construction that simplifies electronic system integration. ED recently chatted with Davis about his professional activities, as well as his new e-book, Power Management.

MG: Where did your earn your BSEE degree?

SD: After almost four years in the U.S. Army Signal Corps, I attended Ohio State University for one year and then graduated from Case Institute of Technology (now Case Western Reserve University).

MG: Could you tell us more about your patent for naval ship construction?

SD: When naval ships are made, they cut holes in the side of the ship and bring in the electronic equipment, install it, and check it out. My approach was to put the electronic system together on pallets and check it out on land. After it is completely checked, they could cut a hole in the side of a ship and install the system on its pallet, which becomes a sub-floor with all the cables inside. I made a cardboard model of the plan and gave the information to a mechanical engineer to finish.

MG: Where did you work before joining [ED and PowerElectronics.com parent company] Penton Media?

SD: PCIM magazine, which became PET [Power Electronics Technology] and then PowerElectronics.com (after two changes of company ownership).

Sam Davis

SD: Designing novel circuits, such as an analog-based character generator for an airborne aircraft.

MG: What new skills do analog engineers need in 2016?

SD: They should understand the digital world and also the semiconductors that are used for analog and power.

MG: Why did you get into tech journalism?

SD: While working as Hughes Aircraft, I wrote a book called Computer Data Displays. After leaving engineering I went to work for EE Times and Electronic Business, where I learned the finer points of magazine journalism.

MG: Why did you decide to write this new Power Management book?

SD: I actually started with Penton with a website that covered semiconductors for analog and power applications. I wrote several tutorials about the semiconductors about 10 years ago and decided it would be a good idea to write a complete book. I brought the information up to date and added more information.

MG: Battery technology—how different is today’s battery business from 10 years ago?

SD: Obviously, the big difference is the Li-ion battery that became the battery of choice for portable systems. It replaces NiCd and NiMH batteries.

MG: In terms of packaging trends and performance, what do you think has been the greatest innovation in packaging in power management?

SD: Packaging has two aspects to it: system packaging and semiconductor packaging. At the system level, innovations have involved packaging techniques for cooling the system (heat sinks, heat pipes, etc.). At the semiconductor level, there is chip scale packaging for ICs as well as other types of leadless packages. Also, power devices have included IR’s DirectFET and Vishay’s PolarPak, which minimize lead resistance and lead inductance.

MG: How do you see the future of analog technology?

SD: Analog will always be available, but it is increasingly being combined with digital. As a result, mixed-signal ICs will proliferate.

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