60) 1989 – Biggest Break of My Career in Semiconductor Design

In my last post you read about my inability to fit in with the crowd at VTC in Minneapolis and subsequent downsizing of the entire second shift at the company.  In this post you will read about my efforts to prepare my family to find cages for our 16 gerbils and move across the country – somewhere.

Analog Devices Incorporated (ADI), Norwood Massachusetts

One snowy afternoon in November, I answered a long-distance call from Massachusetts. “Hello, Oliver?” the caller said. “This is Dr. Richie Payne, from Analog Devices, we’ve looked at your resume and would like to schedule an interview with you to help us develop a new chip-set.” “We are calling it the ADXL50, the industries first accelerometer on a chip.” “Would you be interested in coming out to see us?” he asked

My Quiet Little Foundation Serves me Once Again

I’d like to tell you how surprised I was, but I wasn’t. I was beginning to expect major events in my life. My little foundation was in place, and I had prepared myself for it.

Forging Ahead but Still Insensitive

What I lacked – and didn’t know it at the time – was sensitivity to how my exciting career decisions were impacting Nadine, Jenner and Stevie.

Our duplex renters now secured with a 9-month lease, we were positioned – at least as well we were able – to begin life on the East coast, should I do well during my interview with Analog Devices.

My First Professional Mentor

Dr. Payne and I talked over lunch at The Chart House in Boston. I think I ate Lobster tail with coconut and ginger rice. “You’ll be working with a lot of different personalities, within design, process engineering and fabrication,” Dr. Payne cautioned. An easy-going, powerfully built, sandy-haired guy, Dr. Payne held advanced degrees in semiconductor physics from Yale and, if I recall, MIT. Far from a stuffed shirt, this engaging and spontaneous individual was a rebel at heart but was working within the corporate structure develop something revolutionary in chip design and was asking me to be a key player. Technically, I didn’t meet the admission standards of the team Dr. Payne was describing.

But looking back, I guess he saw someone who was capable of fitting into a structure and learning what was required to bring this concept out of the lab and into the marketplace. Dr. Payne had hand-picked me – a person with no advanced degree, no specialized mixed-signal design experience, no new england pedigree, no insider  connections and no viable work references – to help his team develop the worlds first accelerometer on a chip. What did he see? Maybe a rebel, like himself?

I was beyond excited, and really, really afraid of disappointing Dr. Payne.

Were  you ever recruited for a specialized role in developing a “revolutionary” product or project?

Next: What did Analog Devices have up its sleeve and how they envisioned I could help them with the project.

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