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18 The PCB Design Magazine • April 2016 The PCB folks are also pushed by manufac- turing and these manufacturing rules are often- times only vaguely known by the EEs, hence they don't know what to allow for. At very large companies there is a third en- tity pushing the PCB layout: the EMC/safety folks. Again, more constraints and rules that the EE may only vaguely know about. All of this comes together with schedule compression and causes the PCB folks to have to redo portions of the design to meet all the known and unknown design constraints. Redoing work is never fun for anyone, espe- cially when the time demands are so great. The only solution that I know of is to learn from the uncovered serious problems and with the team decide a path forward to try to prevent these from happening again in the future. And then try to stick to the plan. Shaughnessy: What do you think is the proper role for a PCB design engineer? Hageman: The design needs to be sound and well specified, and a floorplan of the design needs to have been at least thought about that takes into account all the stakeholders' design constraints. Hopefully then the PCB design can be started. Checkpoints should be built into the system. While this seems to add extra time, I find that it really doesn't if it prevents rip-up and retry on the part of the PCB designer. Shaughnessy: What do you think is the proper role for a PCB designer? Hageman: Putting on my PCB designer hat, I would need to make sure that what is given me is complete. The design has been reviewed, that is, the other stakeholders have had a chance to look at the floorplan and have had a chance to make inputs. Then the PCB design can start. I find that having many checkpoints along the way works best. But stuff will go wrong and we all need, as the beer commercials say, "to stay frosty." Shaughnessy: Some PCB design tools are mar- keted directly to the design engineer, not the PCB designer. Do you think PCB designers are being squeezed out? Hageman: I'm sure it happens both ways. In the larger companies I have worked where there are PCB layout groups or services, I have found that the PCB groups usually have the most say on tool sets. Basically everyone wants to use the tool that they know and can work with. This is only natural. Making sure that there is adequate training can help those on both sides that feel left out of the loop. Training today can be pro- vided very cost-effectively by the tool set ven- dor or their FAEs. Shaughnessy: With more and more engineers do- ing PCB design work (some PCB design and layout classes are 50% EEs), what do you think is the solu- tion to this friction? Hageman: I personally like doing my own PCBs; I always have, but some engineers really don't like doing this work. It's a point of personal pref- erence. In small companies you might be forced to do your own designs and in a large company the roLes of the Designer anD the Design engineer Steve Hageman

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