Survey taps trends in test and measurement engineering

27 July 2020

Over 250 respondents representing members from the mechanical, electrical, signal integrity and other types of engineering communities shared their preferences and perspectives on test and measurement breakthroughs and needs. Survey participants are involved in the automotive, industrial equipment, aerospace/defense, wireless communications, semiconductor and medical fields, with 72% reporting 10+ years of professional experience.

About 50% of engineering design involves test and measurement applications, according to participants, who cited internet of things, autonomous driving and electric vehicle technology developments as having the most impact on test and measurement protocols. Less influence appears to be exerted by 5Gsub 6G and 5G mmWave developments. Finding the right hardware components, testing complexity and rapid deployment of artificial intelligence technology were identified as challenging factors for engineers.

Which are the advancements most helpful for furthering test and measurement applications? The ability to gather more data faster, wireless/remote connectivity and managing and optimizing signal integrity are the most important, with 112G data rate and miniaturization slightly less so.

Hardware endurance, measurement stability and accuracy, signal intensity, processing speed and electromagnetic interference/compatibility performance were identified by more than 50% of survey respondents as the most important requirements for test and measurement tasks. Wireless connectivity, high data rate/high data speed connectivity and thermal resistance/heat dissipation were cited by 40% as very important.

However, a majority of test engineers report that less than 25% of test equipment requires wireless connectivity, and 42% of survey respondents say they do not use radio frequency (RF) connectors, adapters, testing cable assemblies or horn antennas (mmWave). About 13% use sub miniature version A (SMA) serial and 11% rely on Bayonet Neill-Concelman (BNC) serial RF connectors.

The type of connector, adapters and cable assemblies needed, as well as insert loss specification were deemed very important criteria by more than 20% of designers subject to an mmWave (110G+) development requirement. Voltage standing wave ratio (VSWR) specification was deemed very important by 19%.

The hunt for test and measurement components begins with a search engine for 46% of survey participants while 19% use catalogs, 18% deal directly with a manufacturer and almost 12% rely on component distributors. More than 47% of the engineers surveyed point to the importance of engineering literature and publications, such as IEEE Spectrum, in keeping abreast of new products, technology developments and case studies. Trade shows and insights from industry leaders are also viewed as important sources of information on product and research trends.

The most valued reading material, as cited by 52% of respondents, concerns signal integrity developments, while 41% named I/O innovation news as most important. High data connectivity and thermal management were deemed important by 34% and 32%, respectively.

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