The Engineers of CSS – Curt Dodds
CSS has a great staff of engineers, but since they are often working “behind the scenes” they may not be well known outside the company. This article, featuring Curt Dodds, is a continuation in the series of interviews titled “The Engineers of CSS” which will hopefully help everyone to know them much better.
A little about Curt in his own words:
In 1966 while working for McDonnell Douglas, I applied for a 4 year, state sponsored, apprenticeship program to become a “Journeyman Electronics Technician”. Luckily I was accepted.
For those 4 years I attended evening college classes and every 3 months I was moved to a different electronics department. I got to experience every phase of the electronics operations like fabricating cables encapsulating modules, engineering design, circuit fabrication, testing, failure analysis etc. At the end of those 4 years I was totally hooked by electronics. My garage became a laboratory where I constructed circuits of all varieties, even making my own printed circuit boards.
I had NASA certification for most phases of construction for space electronics. For 3 more years I ran a thick film fabrication lab, building ceramic substrate circuits for space vehicles.
In 1973 the company began moving their operations to St. Louis Mo. Not wanting to move, I applied to Hughes Aircraft for a job. I was hired into their infant electronic watch program. There I discovered the world of microprocessors and micro-controllers. After learning to program those in assembly language, I designed, built and programmed testers used for production of the watches. Moving from LED to LCD displays, our finally was the calculator watch. After that, world competition forced Hughes out of the watch business.
I transferred into the micro-electronic design and analysis lab where I learned to program in BASIC then C languages, continuing to design and build programmable test systems for analyzing and characterizing each new CMOS IC the company produced.
Raytheon purchased the company and decide to close the Newport Beach plant in 1999. Not wanting to commute to near LAX, I was very excited when offered a position with CSS. I gladly accepted and have enjoyed the challenges presented here since.
CSS: When CSS and Chronicle Technology merged, the engineering staff increased significantly and we are designing a wider variety of custom ASIC’s. We are also expanding our testing facilities and equipment to meet the increased volume and variety of products. Do you feel our present approach of custom test program development will serve us well in this new
Curt: Our current test systems are tried and proven – very stable and versatile. However,
our rapid growth will require more testing capabilities soon. I am currently investigating several approaches for designing a new test system. I want to make sure our new a hardware platform that will serve us for many years to come.
CSS: In addition to test program development, you also assist CSS with our computer system organization. I understand you also do a lot of computer “work” at home as a hobby. Can you tell us something about your computer hobby at home?
Curt: I have 5 desktops, 2 laptops, and 2 tablets. Typically 3 or more are running each evening.
I am obsessed with Linux distributions; with an occasional BSD release thrown in. My busiest desktop has 49 distributions, plus XP and win 7. I tend to cycle through them sequentially, a different operating system each time I power up, or reboot. Distrowatch.com is my daily pulse on what is going on in the Linux world.
So far I have not felt the need to buy a 64-bit computer. I also have a couple of Raspberry PIs, an arduino-uno, and various other toys. I’m currently learning how to use QT-creator (an IDE) for C programming on the PI, and using Eclipse for C, on a TI MSP430 Launchpad, a micro-controller development board.
I’m also the computer nerd that family and friends turn to when they have problems.
So, I never seem to run out of things to do at home.