My Work

Hi, my name is Zachary Ruhlen. I hold a BSEE in Electrical & Computer Engineering from Northeastern University. I live in the DC area and work full time with Hughes Network Systems.


Skills

Electronics:

  • High-speed HDI PCB layout, digital & analog circuits, prototyping, surface-mount soldering, design verification, test equipment

Programming Languages:

  • C/C++, MATLAB, Verilog, Python, Java, Allegro AXL-SKILL

Software:

  • OrCAD, Allegro, Altium, LTspice, Git, Xilinx Vivado, SolidWorks, Linux, CST Studio, Slack

Education

Northeastern University - BSEE, Electrical and Computer Engineering

Boston, MA; September 2018 - December 2021

GPA: 3.98, Summa cum laude

Notable courses include:

  • Electronics - Diodes, Op-Amps, BJT and MOSFET amplifiers, CMOS logic
  • Electromagnetics - Transmission line theory; Maxwell’s Equations; wave propagation, reflection, and transmission; waveguides
  • Wireless Communication Circuits - Filters, Amplifiers, Oscillators, Mixers, Radio Links, Antennas
  • Electronic Materials - Atomic structure and bonding, thermal and electronic conduction, semiconductor materials, carbon nanotubes, spintronics
  • Circuits and Signals - Passive devices, circuit analysis, op-amps, filters, signal processing
  • Linear Systems - System properties, convolution, Laplace & Z-transforms, discrete & continuous Fourier transforms, sampling theory
  • Digital Design - Digital logic, combinational and sequential circuits, Verilog, MIPS design and assembly
  • Computer Architecture - ISA, pipelining, branch prediction, cache, virtual memory
  • Embedded Design - Digital logic, C++, firmware development, FPGA with Simulink
  • Robotics - Kinematics, reverse kinematics, dynamics, controls systems, embedded robotic design
  • Networks - HTTP, UDP & TCP/IP, MAC protocols, wireless networking, Python application design
  • Noise & Stochastic Processes - Probability and random processes, power density, noise in digital and analog systems

Organizations:

  • Tau Beta Pi Engineering Honor Society - Secretary
  • IEEE Eta Kappa Nu Honor Society - Weekly tutoring
  • Beta Gamma Epsilon Fraternity - Philanthropy Chair
  • Alliance of Civically Engaged Students

Experience

Hughes Network Systems, LLC - Printed Circuit Board Designer

Germantown, MD; January 2022 - Present

Summary:

PCB Design

  • High speed (Ka-band)
  • High density interconnect (HDI)
  • Multilayer (20+)
  • Controlled impedances

ECAD

  • Design automation (Allegro SKILL)
  • Library management
  • MCAD integration

Hughes is the leading provider of satellite internet and communication. I work on the ECAD team designing PCBs. Starting in this role I was tasked with updating legacy designs for legal compliance. Using the knowledge of Hughes’ design philosophy and processes, I picked up gradually more and more complex designs.

These boards are indeed complex; some are over 20 layers with blind- buried- and micro-vias. High speed signals (up to the Ka-band, or 40 GHz) require careful management of constraints, including controlled impedances, length matching, and differential pair parameters. Signal integrity and EMI concerns require good return paths, limiting crosstalk, eliminating stubs, and a well-designed stackup. All of these tasks fall to me, and once the board is routed I’m responsible for packaging all of the electrical and mechanical information for manufacture and documentation for archive.

LineVision, Inc. - Electrical Engineering Intern

Somerville, MA; May 2021 - December 2021

Summary:

  • Fast-paced startup
  • Circuit design
  • PCB design
  • Mechanical design
  • Inventory management
  • Test engineering
  • Prototyping

LineVision is a startup that develops transmission line monitoring technology. In the fast-paced startup enivronment, I led various projects in multiple disciplines.

My main project involved an overhaul of the electronics in our instrument. The complexity of the instrument had grown to the point where it became necessary to integrate the electronics onto a PCBA. I led meetings to scope the project and specified the sensors and connectors to use on the board. While keeping detailed design documentation, I completed the schematics and led the company’s first formal schematic review. During the layout process, I was responsible for scoping the mechanics of the board, how it physically fit in the instrument, and any other mechanical changes required. This involved extensive work developing renders in SolidWorks and creating 3D printed prototypes. Next steps in the project include hosting a layout review, liasing with the manufacturer for board bringup, developing a test procedure, and validating the design.

Other projects involved redesigning boards to address supply chain issues. Dealing with pandemic related chip shortages, I had to find and test alternate parts, redesign boards with new circuits, and validate the new design.

I also jumped headfirst into inventory management and testing. As the company grew, it needed documented inventory of assets with information including quantity, history, and status. Not only did this involve careful documentation, it also required development of new test procedures. One test procedure used a 3D-printed test enclosure and a Python script to allow for simple, consistent, and thorough tests on the assets.

Most projects I had my hands on involved prototyping. I used power supplies, signal generators, and DMMs as my primary test tools. I also soldered fine-pitch SMT components, including QFN packages, breadboarded, and developed firmware to test. Firmware ran on a Raspberry Pi and I2C was a common serial interface used.

IDEXX Laboratories, Inc. - R&D Electrical Engineering Co-op

Westbrook, ME; January 2020 - June 2020

Summary:

  • Circuit design
  • PCB design
  • Mechanical design
  • Prototyping

Working with the Circuit Design Group at IDEXX, I led the design of 3 multi-layer boards using the OrCAD suite. Two boards were a part of one project; requirements and constraints were given and I was given freedom in the design, periodically consulting other engineers when I needed assistance. The third board was a test fixture for an existing design. Designing the boards was fully involved, including creating and connecting parts in the schematic, importing the netlist into PCB Editor, specifying the board geometry, creating footprints from data sheets, importing or creating 3D STEP files, specifying constraints to manufacturer and IPC guidelines, designing the board stack up, routing traces, and creating the gerber artwork.

Another project of mine involved the development of an extension for Allegro. Many parts in the library were not up to guidelines, so they had to be individually standardized. The extension, written in AXL-SKILL, helped to automate the process.

I also did some mechanical work during my co-op; one of my boards required a design of an I/O panel; I drafted it in SolidWorks, and, with the guidance of the mechanical team, prepared it for molding.

Finally, I was enlisted to help find the cause of a high failure rate on an existing design. Using troubleshooting software and equipment (oscilloscopes, etc.), the cause was found. A low-cost solution was found and tested extensively, and I helped draft rework instructions for the manufacturing team.

United States Air Force - Civil Engineering Technician

Hanscom Air Force Base, MA; April 2019-July 2019

Summary:

  • Civil engineering
  • Project management
  • OSHA 30-hour certification

At Hanscom AFB, I worked with the Requirements and Optimization team in the civil engineering office. This role involved programming, project management, design, and construction projects for base facilities. I inspected facilities, identified need for repairs or replacement, provided estimates for the project, and acted as a liaison between the engineers and the technicians. My main project in my internship involved the development of a preventative maintenance program for the base. Consulting RSMeans standards, each of the thousands of assets (from A/C units to electrical panels) on the base were assigned a date, action, and frequency for preventative maintenance.

Best Buy / Geek Squad - Sales Consultant / Consultation Agent

Newport News, VA; November 2015 - December 2018

Summary:

  • Retail
  • IT

With my passion for electronics, I decided I wanted to work around them for the bulk of my time in high school. I started with selling in the Connected Devices department (home networking, portable audio, smartwatches) and then transferred to the Lifestyles department (digital imaging and video games). Daily duties involved making recommendations to customers based on their needs, restocking and cleaning the department, assisting other departments, and staying on top of productivity goals. Given my passion for the products I was selling, I was a successful salesman; I routinely outpaced my goals and managed to win the company-wide contest Top Gun. I was the third most productive in my department for the entire territory, which includes every store in Virginia, D.C, Maryland, West Virginia, Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana, and Michigan, and some stores in Illinois.

In my third year with the company, I transferred to the Geek Squad counter, where I stood as a consultation agent. I listened to the clients’ needs, performed troubleshooting on their devices, and took detailed notes for the technicians who would perform repairs. Through the repair process, I acted as the liaison between the technicians and the clients, communicating to each the demands of the other.