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Who Can Hold 2 Billion Transistors in His Head at Once?

It’s impossible to do engineering anymore without using mostly other people’s knowledge

3 min read
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Illustration: Jesse Lefkowitz

I was visiting a high-tech company whose principal business was advanced chip design. A young engineer showed me his latest prototype. It was a circuit board dominated by a single large integrated circuit. It contained, he told me, more than 2 billion transistors.

I’d never done anything remotely similar myself, and I wondered how I’d feel as a new engineer in some company being given a “Mission: Impossible” assignment like that. “How can you possibly design something so complex?” I asked.

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Asad Madni and the Life-Saving Sensor

His pivot from defense helped a tiny tuning-fork prevent SUV rollovers and plane crashes

11 min read
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Asad Madni and the Life-Saving Sensor

In 1992, Asad M. Madni sat at the helm of BEI Sensors and Controls, overseeing a product line that included a variety of sensor and inertial-navigation devices, but its customers were less varied—mainly, the aerospace and defense electronics industries.

And he had a problem.

The Cold War had ended, crashing the U.S. defense industry. And business wasn’t going to come back anytime soon. BEI needed to identify and capture new customers—and quickly.

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