The inaugural IPC Design Competition at IPC APEX EXPO 2022 resulted in a win for Rafal Przeslawski, Xilinx, whose printed circuit board design earned him the top prize.
In late 2021, printed board design engineers from around the world were invited to compete in IPC’s inaugural PCB Design Competition. Intended to be accessible for anyone with a design tool and an internet connection, this new competition would challenge designers in two heats: an at-home, 30-day full board build, and an ‘in-person’ four-hour routing challenge at IPC APEX EXPO 2022.
In the preliminary heat, 14 designers from all corners of the globe – from India to the Netherlands; Oregon to the United Kingdom – were provided with a schematic, a component BOM, and scope of work document, and were asked to design a board that was compliant with IPC’s various board design standards. The given schematic was representative of a motor control board that included features intended to test the competitors’ understanding of various design methodologies.
Out of 14 preliminary competitors, three finalists were chosen to compete at the finals: Elliot Wakefield, a hobbyist based in the United States, Nick Wallis, an electronics engineer at Tribosonics in the United Kingdom, and Rafal Przeslawski, a hardware development engineer at Xilinx based in Germany.
The finals heat took place at IPC APEX EXPO 2022. The competitors were challenged to complete the design of a nearly complete board – missing only design rules, routing, and a few components left in the margins. “With only four hours to do so, completing the board was a careful balance of thoughtful component placement optimization and design rule definition, and brass-tacks routing,” explained Patrick Crawford, manager, design standards and related industry programs. “The board design was that of a functional, programmable blinky-badge that was actually fabricated and on display at IPC APEX EXPO. In other words, unlike the preliminary heat, the final design was representative of a real-world, functional application.”
At the end of the four hours, each competitor delivered their project file to the judges, who deliberated for two hours, ultimately crowning Rafal Przeslawski as the IPC Design Competition 2022 champion.