Bob Patterson, Staff R&D/Product Development Engineer, TE Connectivity
Bob has worked as an engineer in the connector industry for his entire career, all of it with TE Connectivity (originally AMP Inc.). Originally from the Pittsburgh area, he moved to Harrisburg in 1978 to join AMP Inc. Bob's lone hobby these days is firefighting, which he's been doing for the past 35 years. Working from home since COVID enables him to respond to emergencies 24/7.
WORKING WITH VITA
1. For someone not familiar with VITA, what would you say are some key benefits that the trade association provides in the development of electronic components?
VITA membership is made up of manufacturers and users that have a common market interest in real-time, modular embedded computing systems. Having such a diverse membership helps drive the technology. Not long after I became involved with VITA, the VME 320 technology was presented a VSO meeting that would take signal speeds up to 320 megabytes per second. That created quite a stir at the time, although that speed is not impressive by today’s standards. Now there are discussions about 200+GBs. These advancements are the result of the membership companies, including competitors, working together on a common goal.
2. What are some (or one) innovations you have seen in product development that were influenced by VITA standards (or open standards in general)?
One instance is when the TE MultiGig connector was originally selected as the interconnect for the VITA 46 (VPX) standard, it had been designed for and used primarily in the communications industry. As the VPX and industry requirements changed over time requiring increased signal speeds and ruggedization, MultiGig connector design changes were made to meet those needs.
1. Did you always want to be an engineer? If so, why? If not, how’d you wind up here?
I decided to become an engineer while in middle school. I always enjoyed mechanical drawing and problem solving. Penn State had built a branch campus 10 minutes from my home a few years earlier and it seemed like a good fit.
2. What has surprised you the most about the work you do with embedded computing? (or VITA in general)
I would say the satisfaction of helping develop standards that will be used in the industry for years to come. I’ve chaired two standards in my time with the VSO and it feels good to have made some contribution. I’ve been attending VSO meetings since 1996 and have learned so much about the embedded computing market during that time.
3. What is one of the biggest issue currently facing our Aerospace & Defense or engineering community?
My opinion is that recruitment and retention are two big problems facing not only the engineering community today, but all industries. Finding people to fill open positions is becoming more difficult and retaining them is as equally difficult. People just don’t want stay in one place for too long anymore.
4. What advice would you give to someone looking into engineering?
I’d always recommend engineering as a career when the opportunity presented itself. When we would visit schools during engineering week over the years, we’d always point out to the students that everything they see around them was designed by some type of engineer.
Off the cuff: What’s the most recent show you’ve binge watched?
I don’t really binge watch any shows, but the last network show I watched regularly was The Big Bang Theory.