A common practice in the EDA industry is to assign the task of teaching classes to applications engineers. At first blush, this makes sense, since the job of the applications engineer is to deal directly with customer engineers. However, there is a difference between dealing one-on-one and being in charge of a classroom. There is a difference between collaborating and teaching, between implementing advanced techniques and coaching basic techniques. In each case, applications engineers are normally hired and compensated for their ability to do the former, but not the latter. Generally, the task is so unpopular that it ends up being delegated to the least senior engineers, who are the least qualified. Pressing people to perform services that they have neither the desire nor ability to deliver will yield sub-standard results, and in a classroom environment these sub-standard results are delivered to a host of customers all at once. What can be done? Two possible solutions come to mind. You could either hire dedicated trainers, or make presentation skills one of the criteria for hiring and compensating applications engineers. The second may actually be preferable to the first, in that the technical skills and hence the credibility of dedicated trainers could suffer unless an effort is made to keep them in touch with current design trends, perhaps by rotating trainers through an occasional applications engineering project.

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