Phillip Johnston

Curriculum Vitae

Areas of Expertise

Embedded systems programming, shipping products (8), manufacturing (24 builds), project management

Experience in defense, consumer electronics, robotics, drones, automotive, and manufacturing


Ongoing contributions

Building 10+ open-source libraries for use on embedded projects

Authoring over 150 articles on embedded systems and software development

Publishing monthly embedded systems newsletters



Work Experience

Embedded Artistry LLC

Title: Founder and Principal                                                    
Timeframe: June 2016 - Present

  • New platform/device bring-up, design review, part evaluation, prototyping, build automation

  • Developing manufacturing test processes. Software/hardware FA & debugging

  • Managing deliverables and timelines for external vendors and CM teams

  • System and software architecture

Pearl Automation

Title: Senior Firmware Engineer                                                       
Timeframe: October 2014 – July 2016

  • Employee #12, 2nd firmware hire, series A.

  • Responsible for chip evaluation and RTOS selection (ThreadX)

  • Bring-up of build tools, build system, SOC, and device drivers. Defined & supported manufacturing tests

  • Responsible for camera driver, wrote EHCI (USB) host stack, optimized memory usage for perf improvements

  • Gave lectures on system architecture and C++ techniques. Trained firmware interns


Title: Test Design Lead                                                                                        
Timeframe: March 2014 – October 2014

  • Managed two NPI factory test and calibration lines from prototype development to mass production

  • Reduced cycle time, retest rates, & factory escapes

  • Briefed executives on program status and readiness for builds. Well-versed in crisis management

Title: Diagnostic Firmware Engineer                                                                
Timeframe: January 2013 – March 2014

  • Rapid bring-up of software for multiple new products, components, and tests for use on the production line

  • Trained and managed CM firmware teams to assist with development & debug efforts

  • Worked with cross-functional teams to specify test coverage and perform FA on HW/SW issues

Georgia Tech Research Institute

Title: Embedded Developer
Timeframe: May 2009 – December 2012

  • Lead developer on rapid-paced multi-system embedded project. Design to deployment in one year

  • Awards for cross-functional coordination, exceeding customer expectations, distinguished performance

  • Research, development, and testing of a platform-independent API for the U.S. Navy

  • Developer for MIL-STD-1553 bus monitoring software on multiple EW/Avionics systems. Led formal testing

Volunteer Experience

san francisco japanese tea garden

Title: Volunteer Gardener
Timeframe: September 2017 – Present

I help keep the SF Japanese Tea Garden a beautiful place by pruning trees, trimming bamboo, wrangling koi, and cleaning the ponds.

Georgia institute of Technology

Title: Alumni Mentor
Timeframe: December 2017 – Present

I participate in the Georgia Tech Mentor Jackets program, where I mentor students currently attending Georgia Tech. I try to take on one mentee each semester, and also make myself available for email questions from Georgia Tech students. 

Skills & Keywords

General Programming

C, C++, C++11, C++14, ARM assembly, MIPS assembly, lua, Python, Groovy, bash scripting. IDL languages: Apache Thrift, Google Protobufs, nanopb. API design.

Compilers & Build Systems

GNU Tools, Make, Makefiles, build systems & automation, Jenkins. clang, gcc. cross-compilation for ARM, PIC, AVR


git, Subversion, MKS, Perforce.


Debugging, gdb, lldb, JTAG, SWD, OpenOCD.

Embedded Systems

RTOS, ThreadX, FreeRTOS. Internet of Things (IoT), AWS IoT, Particle Cloud, REST APIs. Reviewing schematics. DFU.  Sensors: IMU, pressure, temperature, Hall effect (HEFF, compass. One-wire, SPI, I2C, USB (EHCI), CANbus, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, RFID. Cameras, ISP. Custom interface design. Embedded Linux.  VHDL, FPGAs. Board bring-up & functional verification. AES HW Encryption. Gstreamer. Cameras, ISP. Robotics. Drones. 

Microprocessor Families

ARM, Atmel (SAMA5), Ambarella (H2), AVR, PIC (PIC18, PIC24), Nordic (nRF51, nRF52), GeoSemi, STMicro (STM32), EnergyMicro (EFM32), SiliconLabs (EFM32), TI (MSP430), Intel 8085, Nvidia Tegra (TX1/TX2)


NPI, SMT, FATP, testing, packout. China travel, CM management, Foxconn, Pegatron, GoerTek, Primax. Process controls, cheating prevention. Design of test, calibration, and rework processes. Failure analysis.  Driving improvements to yield, reducing retest rates, optimizing cycle times.


Documenting everything.  Presentations. Customer interactions. Executive briefings & summaries. Interface documents, test reports, recommendation reports, application notes. Project management, scheduling.


Learning, writing, crisis management, rock climbing, backpacking, cooking, guitar, gardening, Latin



GTRI Spot Award for Outstanding Employee Contributions

Highlighted contributions included:

  • Innovation/Creativity

  • Integrity

  • Teamwork

  • Initiative/"Can Do"

  • Financial Perspective (Company Objective, Shareholder Value, Cost Savings)

  • Customer Perspective (Customer Satisfaction)

Winner for GTRI's One GTRI Collaboration Award (I-BESS Project Team)

The I-BESS team was awarded for the outstanding team performance and inter-departmental coordination that we exhibited during the project.

See the award here.

Finalist for GTRI Outstanding Student Award (I-BESS Project)



Test Driven Development for Embedded Systems Workshop

Host: James Grenning
September 2018
Length: 3 days

Received training from James Grenning during a remote TDD course.

Software Architecture Workshop

Host: Bredemeyer Consulting
June 2018
Length: 4 days

Received training from Bredemeyer Consulting.

Georgia Institute of Technology

Timeframe: August 2008 - December 2012
Degree: Computer Engineering, Bachelor of Science, Cooperative Plan with Honors

Focused on microelectronic circuits, low-level programming, and embedded systems.

Activities and Societies

  • Association of Old Crows

  • Students Organizing for Sustainability (SOS)

  • Outdoor Recreation @ Georgia Tech (ORGT)


Shipped Products


Completed Projects