July 2020 Newsletter

Myles Baker

Letter from the President 

I think we can all agree that a lot of things have changed in 2020, so let me take this opportunity to add one more change- M4 now has a quarterly newsletter!  It took us 19 years since our founding in June 2001 to get one, but as part of our 20th year activities, we figured it’s about time. The content is a little bit lighthearted observations, a little bit hard-core technical articles, but all M4.  I hope this will be a good tool to help keep the M4 team connected to each other, to our customers, and to our community.  Enjoy the read, and have a safe and happy 4th of July!

In February 2020, M4 established a new larger and improved prototyping and testing center, which will be the focal point of some of the most “unusual” development and test programs going on these days. By adding this center M4’s enhanced capabilities now include:

  • Composite fabrication
  • CNC machining and tooling development
  • Flight vehicle and component assembly and integration
  • Materials, structures, mechanical and electrical systems testing
  • Electronics and semiconductor prototyping and testing functions

The center was created as a response to the increasing unique prototyping and test requirements of our customers and partners. So, whether it is building flight structures for new aircraft, testing a novel structural system for revolutionary flight vehicles, or providing thermal transient characterization and/power cycling of high power semiconductors exciting developments (no pun intended) are happening all the time at the new center.  The new facility is located in Signal Hill, CA, just down the street from our main engineering offices in Long Beach and will be continue to support our growing NASA, DoD, and commercial development, prototyping, and testing activities. Please ask for a tour next time you are in the area.

M4 Testing Center

Company Culture: M4 & COVID-19

Here at M4, we are committed to the health and safety of our customers and employees , so to help reduce the spread of COVID-19, we have moved to working remotely while our office has remained temporarily closed since Mid-March. So wanting to keep our literal and figurative finger on the pulse M4 News has reached out to our able and healthy colleagues to see how the new work conditions have impacted their work and personal lives.

With the office closed, some of us at M4 have been experiencing the all-too-common obstacle of separating work from personal time.  As M4 Engineer Edward Szwabowski explained, “There is no barrier between work and home life now-it feels like I’m perpetually working from home on a Saturday.”

Another difficulty we’ve encountered is the extra time needed to communicate with fellow employees.  Rather than popping our heads into a coworker’s office to ask a simple question, it seems like our days are consumed with packed inboxes, loading screens, and network issues. 

Not everything about social distancing has been negative, however!  We have learned to appreciate the little joys in day-to-day life.  Despite the uncomfortable makeshift desks and lack of delicious M4 coffee, our employees have greatly enjoyed the extra time spent with loved ones and home-cooked meals. We are happy to have the time to develop new hobbies such as yoga, gardening, and video games.  We do not miss long commutes on the busy 405 freeway or having to wear shoes to a meeting.  And most of all, we admire and commend our brave friends, family, and neighbors who are risking their lives on the front-line to help us get through this.   As of now M4 management is discussing what going back to normal will look like and when will happen. Monitoring the current news, local and state government and the various public and health opinions M4 is finding it hard to predict when we will be able to enjoy that great freshly ground M4 coffee. What isn’t hard to predict is that we will continue to thrive to do our best help our customers solve complex engineering problems with insightful solutions for years to come.

M4 is excited to announce the availability of high-power transient thermal characterization and active power cycling testing services for power diode, MOSFET, and IGBT products.  A non-destructive assessment is performed while the device remains mounted, powered, and cooled in the same way it would be in end-use applications.  This provides package-level, layer-by-layer thermal transient characterization and defect identification of semiconductor devices in the form of a structure function. If power dissipation and thermal performance of your high-wattage semiconductor product is of critical concern, then structure function data can provide actionable design and process insights in a matter of hours.  Testing is performed in our Long Beach, CA facility with or without client personnel present, as desired.  Short-term transient and long term (weeks/months) accelerated aging testing is available.

powertester

This type of testing is particularly valuable for the following industries:

  • Aerospace and defense: aircraft power electronics for propulsion, flight surface control, component suppliers, digital electronics for flight systems, naval weapons, electric propulsion power systems and control electronics
  • Automotive and transportation: power electronics in EV, HEV, and PHEV vehicles, motor control for rail traction, and digital electronics for driver assistance, navigation, and infotainment
  • Power electronics component vendors and packaging houses: design validation for package and product development, manufacturing process qualification, reliability testing, creation and calibration of thermal models for the supply chain and for thermal design verification, inbound component inspection, and more.

Please reach out to Brian Rotty for more information.

Employee SpotlightDan Hammerand, PhD

As part of our new newsletter M4 would like to provide a spotlight on our various employees who help create M4’s unique and capable team. For our inaugural profile, we are recognizing Dr. Dan Hammerand, who has been a key member of the M4 staff for over 11 years!  Dan is a Principal Investigator in the Research and Development department, where his primary role is leading teams to develop advanced technology solutions for DoD, NASA, and other customers to enable their on-going and future missions. He is also responsible for mentoring younger staff members to increase their technical expertise, as well as their project management skills.

Dan states, “My favorite thing about M4 is working with the team that we have assembled.  Not only does the team have a broad range of expertise and experiences, but everyone is very friendly and a pleasure to work with.  My success has been enabled by this team.  I really appreciate everyone’s focus on getting things done on time and budget.  That is, we work fast and keep things from breaking.”

Dr. Hammerand received his PhD in Aerospace Engineering from Virginia Tech under the advisement of Professor Rakesh Kapania, who has remained a key colleague throughout his career.  In fact, Dan is currently working with Dr. Kapania on two SBIR (Small Business Innovation Research) projects with M4 as the lead and Virginia Tech as the subcontractor.

When asked where he would like to be in the distant future, Dan says that he has embraced the concept of not retiring, explaining: “Engineering is one of those careers where such an idea is conceivable.  It will be great fun to be working with the tools that will be available in 20-30 years and beyond.”

Outside of work, Dan enjoys spending time with his beagles and attending concerts, dinner theater, and Clippers games with his wife.  When questioned whether pineapple belongs on pizza, Dan retorted, “Pineapple and ham or pepperoni is fine, but what is really great is Canadian bacon & sauerkraut.  Try it and believe!”

Dan, thank you for being such an essential asset to our team, and we will make sure to try that pizza!

dan hammerand

Last month M4 engineer Brian Rotty joined a panel of other seasoned engineers in the Southern California region for a virtual industry chat with students from McBride High School in Long Beach, CA.  McBride students had the chance to dig into the nuts-and-bolts of an engineer’s career from origins to current projects.  Mr. Rotty explored some of the electronics, semiconductor, embedded systems development, manufacturing, and testing projects undertaken by M4 over the past few years as a way to introduce students to the world of professional engineering.  This is part of M4’s ongoing commitment to foster the next generation of engineers, ensuring a bright future for Southern California and the world at large.

McBride Engineering is one of three career focused pathways at McBride High School in Long Beach.  The program is designed for students with an interest in engineering, and balances college-prep courses with technical courses focused on engineering. Over the course of four years, students take five engineering classes, learning CAD software, including AutoCAD Inventor and Solidworks, Digital electronics, and write Gcode for CNC machines to create unique projects.  At each grade level, students learn and practice a structured engineering design process, culminating in their 12th grade Senior Project, a year long project where students are expected to research and justify a relevant engineering problem, brainstorm solutions, build and test prototypes, and effectively manage the project as a team.  This year, due to health concerns over the spread of COVID, students presented their projects through Zoom, engaging with professional engineers.

mcbride logo

Just for Fun: Employee Poll

When surveyed about which way a dog would wear pants, 23% of the M4 community voted for option one (left), 65% voted for option two (middle), whereas 12% voted for an unlisted, full-body option instead (right).

dog in pants
dog in jacket

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