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FAE Confidential

Field application engineers (FAEs) working at power semiconductor and power supply companies have to deal with a range of customer problems and issues. These customer experiences can be enlightening on many levels. In working to serve customers, FAEs also must deal with their companies’ business priorities, organizational capabilities and management styles, which can help and at times hinder their efforts to serve customers. In FAE Confidential, FAEs share their experiences, putting the technical work they do in a real world context and offering lessons learned. The columns presented here were originally published on the How2Power home page. If you’re interested in writing an article for FAE Confidential, contact the editor.

The War On FAEs (Part 1): Remembering When FAEs Ruled

by the OT Club

If you’ve been working in the electronics industry for a while, as a user of electronic components, you may have noticed some changes in the levels and quality of service that your semiconductor FAEs provide. If you’ve been working on the other side of the fence, as a semiconductor FAE, then you may be even more keenly aware of these changes. The writers of this article fall into the latter category. As longtime semiconductor FAEs, we have experienced the changes first hand. This article is about the long-term shifts in how semiconductor manufacturers have treated our role as FAEs as a result of the “financialization” of the business. Read the full article…

Advice To Power Supply Designers (Part 2): The High-Performance Semiconductor Vendor Brings Value

by P.S. Wacher, Semiconductor Industry Veteran

In part 1, the author discussed how engineers working at power supply companies can identify the “needy” component vendors, who tend to waste the engineer’s time, compete almost solely on price and don’t offer much in the way of leading technology or service. While it’s important to recognize and avoid such vendors, it’s equally important that designers be able to identify those vendors who do bring value and help the customers design and build better products. In this part 2 article, the author describes the characteristics of these high-performance or preferred vendors and how they work with customers. Read the full article…

Advice To Power Supply Designers (Part 1): Beware The Needy Semiconductor Vendor

by P.S. Wacher, Semiconductor Industry Veteran

Due to the market pressures, U.S. power supply design engineers have aggressive schedules and project deadlines while operating with limited personnel. Therefore it’s logical to expect that these customers are now less likely to freely allocate their time to component vendors that do not offer them a compelling advantage/service to support their objectives. In this two-part article series, the author—a longtime semiconductor FAE himself—discusses why companies (and their engineers) need to be careful in determining which semiconductor vendors they meet with and how much time they spend with them. Here in part 1, he explains how engineers can identify the “needy” semiconductor vendor that wastes the customer’s time and offers little beyond low price. While cost pressures may give these vendors a foot-in-the-door with customers, there are serious risks to working with them as the author explains. Read the full article…

Saving Face American Style: Engineering Integrity Can Be Detrimental In Post-Global Business Culture

by Paul L. Schimel, PE

A dear friend wrote to me about an interview he’d had for an FAE position at a big power semiconductor company. It started out with an urgent call from a senior staff sales engineer. But as my friend told the interviewer about the deep skills and experience he would bring to serving the customer, it became apparent that such abilities would not be considered assets in a business where sales booked per quarter were all that mattered. Read the full article…

The Case Of The MOSFET Failure

by Paul L. Schimel, PE

With its hush-hush tone and private eye logo, the FAE Confidential column evokes memories of old-style detective stories on TV and in print. This very first article in the FAE Confidential series is very much inline with the private-eye theme as the author relates how he solved the mystery behind his customer’s blown MOSFET. Here he explains how he worked with his company’s RMA department and the customer to determine the likely reason for the device failure. But as you’ll discover, the greater mystery here is not so much why this particular MOSFET failed, but how the system of dealing with such customer problems has evolved to a place that makes finding such answers less and less likely. Read the full article…

To read the latest edition of FAE Confidential, see the How2Power home page.

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