Google this: PCB design engineer
by Matt Staub
2007 Electronics Engineering Technology graduate
As a printed circuit board (PCB) design engineer for Google’s Pixel hardware group, Matt Staub engages daily in complex designs and active collaboration (with the occasional ping-pong game and Google bike ride on the side).
The 2007 electronics engineering technology graduate offers insights into his Google gig and shares advice with current Penn College students:
What type of work do you do?
I am a printed circuit board (PCB) design engineer for Google’s Pixel hardware group, working out of the Chicago office. I was a lead designer for both the Pixel 3XL and Pixel 4 phones, as well as supporting many other internal and consumer-facing products. As a PCB designer, I am responsible for bringing electrical schematics to life through the placement, layout and routing of both analog and digital circuits for some of the most complex designs in the consumer electronics industry.
What is a typical day like?
A large portion of my day is spent using electronic computer-aided drafting (ECAD) software to work on my designs. These are very complex designs and require a lot of collaboration between me and all the other engineers that make up the different cross-function teams required for developing a phone. In between designs, I develop software and scripts that help automate some of our manual processes we do, run additional checks on a design, or generate additional reports to help support our vendors. There is also the occasional game of ping-pong, coffee with a coworker at one of the cafes, or a bike ride on one of the Google bikes.
What is the most rewarding project you’ve worked on?
The Pixel 3XL is currently the most rewarding project I’ve worked on. Throughout my life, I have always been into electronics and consistently find myself on tech websites, following the latest product releases and trends in the consumer hardware space. More specifically, I’ve been interested in smartphones since their introduction in the late 2000s. I would always look at the latest smartphone teardowns online just so I could see the circuit boards in them. I was amazed at how they were able to fit so much processing power and functionality into such a small-form factor. The Pixel 3XL was the first smartphone I worked on and led the PCB design into mass production. I finally got to see this phone, a design I helped produce, covered on all my usual tech websites.
Any advice for electronics engineering technology students? Or what type of skills do students need to be successful in the electronics engineering technology industry?
During my time at Penn College, I believe I thought that the more I knew about the subjects I was studying, the better off I would be when graduating. And, although there is truth to that, I found that during my time in the industry, the ability to solve complex problems and collaborate with others with an open mind have been equally important. With that, my advice to the current students would be the following: It’s OK if you don’t know something. The important thing is the steps you take to figure it out. Start by asking questions. It took me a few years into my education to understand the value in asking questions and to speak up in class.
What is your favorite aspect of your job?
There are many aspects of my job, and I can’t call just one my favorite. To start, I love the designs I get to work on. Each one is a complex puzzle I get to solve. I also really enjoy the people I work with here at Google. They are some of the smartest, nicest, encouraging people I have ever had the privilege to work with. I am also fortunate to work in an environment that fosters learning and the exploration of personal projects. I am constantly coming up with projects, tools and ideas, and I am given the time to explore them.
How do you think Penn College helped prepare you to excel in the electronics engineering technology industry?
Penn College gave me the ability to face and solve complex problems through their hands-on learning and industry-applicable classes. The creation of most consumer electronics stems from a problem, or set of problems, and having the know-how to deal with them has been very rewarding to both me and my career.