For fun, Oregon State graduate, Igor Vytyaz, created an Android app for circuit simulation, but it developed into a full-time job.
A dash of circuit design know-how and a pinch of artistic creativity turned out to be just the right mix for Igor Vytyaz when he began dabbling in developing an Android app similar to SPICE (Simulation Program with Integrated Circuit Emphasis), a software tool to simulate integrated circuits.
The opportunity to combine his passions for electronics and art was one Vytyaz couldn’t pass up, even though it meant taking a risk by quitting his job in research and development for Berkeley Design Automation, a leader in nanometer circuit verification.
Developing EveryCircuit, started as a way for Vytyaz to learn app development and apply his knowledge in circuit design, but it has grown to be his full-time job and sparked his start-up business, MuseMaze.
Although he went to art school when he was growing up in Ukraine, he followed the path of his father who is a professor in electrical engineering. At the National Technical University of Ukraine, Vytyaz studied computer-aided design and circuit simulation. But his interest developed further when he came to Oregon State for his doctoral degree in electrical and computer engineering and began working with Karti Mayaram and Un-Ku Moon.
“As a software developer I apply some basic fundamental physical laws, and the software is able to simulate a much more complicated system than what I can even imagine. I find that very fascinating,” Vytyaz says.
Vytyaz’s academic lineage is just one step away from the father of SPICE, a program that revolutionized circuit design by making the development process cheaper and faster. Donald Pederson first envisioned SPICE as a teaching tool when it was developed in the 1970s at the University of California, Berkeley. He insisted that it be made publically available during a time when open-source software was unheard of. Its influence entered circuit fabrication when the wide availability of SPICE spawned a cottage industry for derivatives of the program that allowed for rapid advances in circuit design.
Mayaram, Vytyaz’s co-advisor, worked with Pederson on a variation of SPICE (CODECS) as a grad student at Berkeley. So, it is fitting that Vytyaz is modernizing SPICE by bringing it to mobile technology, but also returning to its roots as an educational tool.
EveryCircuit App simulates electronic circuits and displays animated voltages, currents, and charges right on top of schematics. This shot shows the signal is delayed as it propagates through a transmission line.
“EveryCircuit compared to an electronics book has some clear advantages. It shows you the visual presentation of how the circuit works with dynamic voltage, current, and charge animations — that is something that a paper book cannot do for you,” Vytyaz says.
He says his half a million users fall into two main groups: students and hobbyists. Students have reported to him that they use the app while they are working through their book or checking their homework. Hobbyists use it to simulate circuits that they are planning to build, but often make the comment that they wished they’d had such a tool as a student.
“It's really rewarding to create something nice and get good feedback from thousands of people who are finding it useful,” Vytyaz says.
Although he is currently focused on making improvements to EveryCircuit, Vytyaz believes that mobile devices have a lot of potential in education and he hopes to expand outside electronics to other disciplines.
“This chance to work on something that you really like may not happen very often, so I'm happy so far. It’s a good mix of things I enjoy doing,” Vytyaz says.
“I'm very grateful to Oregon State in general and also my academic advisors, professors Mayaram and Moon, for giving me all the fundamental knowledge that allowed me to create EveryCircuit.”
–by Rachel Robertson
Igor Vytyaz has a free version of EveryCircuit available for people to test out and he welcomes any comments or suggestions at firstname.lastname@example.org. He is also interested in talking to computer science students who are looking for an internship.