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170 I-CONNECT007 I REAL TIME WITH... IPC APEX EXPO 2022 SHOW & TELL MAGAZINE experts in aspects of board design and heav- ily involved in the IPC standards development process. (In other words: these are some of the authors of the very same standards used to judge our competitors.) For example, the competitors were judged against IPC-2612 and IPC-2612-1 for proper schematics and symbols definitions, against IPC-7351B for footprints, against IPC-2221B for trace widths and clearances, hole and via design, and cop- per thickness, among others. Out of the 14 preliminary competitors, three were chosen to compete at finals: Elliot Wakefield, a hob- byist based in the United States; Nick Wallis, an electronics engineer at Tribosonics, based in the United Kingdom; and Rafal Przeslawski, a hardware development engineer at Xilinx, based in Germany. e finals heat took place at IPC APEX EXPO in late January. Unfortunately, due to ongoing travel restrictions and uncertainty associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, the finalists were unable to attend in person. Instead, monitors were placed in the Design@ APEX booth; each displayed a competitor's screen via a Zoom room. e competitors were asked to always keep their design tool on screen so the judges and spectators in the Design@APEX booth could observe. For the finals heat, the competitors were asked to use Altium Designer. is allowed the judges to create a single project file as a starting point for the competitors, as well as enabling an expedited review of the submissions (as opposed to importing manufacturing files into a CAM viewer, for example). With only one night to judge the submissions, this quick-turn capability was essential. e competitor's challenge was relatively simple: given a nearly complete board— missing only design rules, routing, and a few components le in the margins—they were responsible for completing the design. With only four hours to do so, completing the board was a careful balance of thoughtful component placement optimization and design rule defini- tion, and brass-tacks routing. e board design was that of a functional, programmable blinky- badge that was actually fabricated and on dis- play at the show, a "golden copy" of the design, so to speak. In other words, unlike the prelimi- nary heat, the final design was representative of a real-world, functional application. Aer a short preamble on behalf of IPC, the competitors were off to the races. I have to say that it was genuinely exciting to watch them work on their designs. At one point, a crowd of people were shouting at one of the monitors for the competitor to "Fan out! Fan out!" It felt less like "watching paint dry," as I heard someone predict such a competition would be like, and more like a sporting event, or at the very least, off-track betting. At the end of the four hours, each competitor delivered their project file, and signed off for the day. It was then the judges' turn, and aer another two hours of deliberating, a champion was crowned: Rafal Przeslawski was the IPC Design Competition 2022 champion. Going into next year, there are aspects of the competition that will be improved and stream- lined to make it easier for competitor and adju- dicator alike. Perhaps foremost on the wish-list for next year will be for the finalists to compete in person, and there is hope that this can hap- pen. In any case, we are grateful for all who participated this year, and we are excited for next year and beyond. If you would like to become involved and help build the IPC Design Competition 2023, email S&T Patrick Crawford is the manager of design pro- grams and related industry programs at IPC. To read past columns or contact him, click here or email

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