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Dr. Russ Henke
Dr. Russ Henke
The writer of the following article has posted over 100 articles on since 2003, in the form of Quarterly Commentaries on the worldwide EDA and EDA IP Industries as well as monthly Editorials covering vendors, products, finances and new developments. Beginning April 2012 these … More »

24th Annual MGC PCB Technology Leadership Awards

July 3rd, 2012 by Dr. Russ Henke

Dear faithful blog reader:
Please take a few minutes of your valuable time to read this July 03, 2012 blog about the PCB Technical Leadership Awards program now underway.

 24th Annual MGC PCB Technology Leadership Awards

In case you missed it, in the EDA Industry Commentary first posted on on June 25, 2012,  Mentor Graphics Corporation announced the call-for-entries of its 24th annual Technology Leadership Awards (TLA) competition, continuing its tradition of recognizing excellence in printed circuit board (PCB) design.

The modern PCB portion of Mentor Graphics was covered extensively in in an EDA WEEKLY July 25, 2011  article entitled, “Back to the Future”:

Started at the PCB Division in 1988, the TLA program is the longest running competition of its kind in the electronic design automation (EDA) industry. It recognizes engineers and CAD designers who use Mentor’s innovative technology to address today’s complex PCB systems design challenges and produce industry-leading products.

Expert Judges

Prominent experts in the PCB industry will judge the 24th Annual contest, including: Happy Holden, director of electronics technologies, Gentex Corporation; Gary Ferrari, technical support director, FTG Circuits; Pete Waddell, president of UP Media, publisher of Printed Circuit Design & Fab/Circuits Assembly Magazine; Andy Kowalewski, senior interconnect designer, AdvantagePCB; and Rick Hartley, senior principal engineer, Avionics Division of L-3 Communications. Brief BIOS and snapshots of each of the judges are given at the end of this article

“I’m pleased to see Mentor’s continued support for this program,” stated Andy Kowalewski, senior interconnect designer, AdvantagePCB. “PCB designers are constantly facing new challenges and finding innovative solutions to address them. The Technology Leadership Awards are a great way to showcase the leading-edge design approaches they’re utilizing, and recognize the designers and their contribution to the PCB industry.”

The writer of this blog has been invited to participate as an honorary TLA judge this year as well, to recognize his strong support of the fledgling TLA Contest when he was VP/GM of the PCB Division in the early years of both the division’s existence and the TLA Contest’s existence.  “One of the keys to the success of the TLA program back then was to tap well-known industry experts to judge customer entries. That tradition continues 20 years later as Mentor Graphics has again achieved PCB market leadership,” says the writer.

Back in the early 90’s, the PCB Division GM often traveled to nearby or distant customer sites with the respective MGC sales teams, for formal presentations of these Awards, such as the presentation by GM Henke (center) to Siemens Plessey Radar on the Isle of Wight, UK, shown below:

This year, entrants will be able to submit their design accomplishments in any of seven categories representing a wide variety of industries:

– Consumer electronics and handheld
– Industrial control, instrumentation, security and medical
– Military and aerospace
– Computers, blade and servers, memory systems
– Telecom, network controllers, line cards
– Transportation and automotive
– University

“Our annual PCB Technology Leadership Awards contest provides a worldwide opportunity for talented designers to showcase innovative designs.  Each year we see ever increasing challenges and the use of new technologies implemented,” said Dan Boncella, director of marketing, Systems Design Division, Mentor Graphics. “The submissions for this contest are really quite impressive. We are expecting this year’s competition to be bigger than ever, with entries from many major electronics companies as well as from smaller teams.”

Several of the winning boards FROM LAST YEAR’S AWARD WINNERS are imaged at various locations in these paragraphs, without attribution.

Winners of the 2012 awards will be named for each category as well as a Best Overall Design recipient. The timeframe for submitting entries is from June 11th through July 31, 2012.

Want to enter?

Entrants can apply online at  This web page also has a video from the judges with helpful hints on how to win.


About the Technology Leadership Awards Contest

Mentor’s Technology Leadership Award contest is open to any designs created with Mentor’s PCB solutions, including the Board Station®, Expedition™ Enterprise and PADS® design flows. Judging will be based on overcoming complexity challenges, such as small form factor, high-speed content, design team collaboration, advanced PCB fabrication technologies and design-cycle time reduction. Judging will start July 31,2012 and winners will be announced September 23,2012 on a worldwide web broadcast.

Meet the Judges of the 24th TLA Contest

Happy Holden

Happy Holden is the Director of Electronics Technologies at GENTEX Corporation, the world’s preeminent supplier of auto-dimming and rear-camera electronic mirrors.  A frequent speaker and lecturer on advanced PCBs and HDI the last 42 years, he retired as CTO for Hon Hai’s Mobile Interconnect Products Business Group of China and Taiwan.  Prior to joining Hon Hai, he was the Senior PCB Technologist for Mentor Graphics’ System Design Division in Longmont, CO; then Advanced Technology Manager at NanYa/Westwood Associates and Merix Corporations.  He took early retirement from Hewlett-Packard after over 28 years. Mr. Holden formerly managed Hewlett-Packard’s application organizations in Taiwan and Hong Kong. His prior assignments with HP had been as director of PCB R&D and PCB Engineering Manager. Happy has received the IPC President’s Award in 1995 for contributions to printed circuits world-wide.  Mr. Holden has written over 130 technical papers and PCB chapters in 3 books plus contributing and being an Assistant Editor for the Coomb’s 4th, 5th and 6th Editions of the PC HANBOOK. In 2009 he wrote the popular (free) HDI HANDBOOK from pcb007 (  He holds degrees in Chemical Engineering and Computer Science.   He is a member of the IPC, SMTA, IMAPS and the IEEE.

Rick Hartley

Rick Hartley is a Senior Principal Engineer at L-3 Communication, Avionics Systems, as well Principal Engineer of Hartley Enterprises, through which he consults and teaches internationally.  His 47 year career has focused on circuits and PC boards for computers, aircraft avionics and telecommunications.  The past 37 years were dedicated to PC board and circuit development with emphasis on control of noise.  Rick is a past member of the Editorial Review Board of Printed Circuit Design Magazine and has written numerous technical papers on methods to control EMI and signal integrity.  He is currently on the IPC Designers Council Executive Board.

Andy Kowalewski

A board designer for over 31 years, Andy Kowalewski has a technical background in avionics (HF, VHF and UHF) air-ground-air & radio link communications, radar & navigational aids. Starting as a technician with tubes, then on to board design, he evolved from hand drafting to CAD in 1985. He has owned/operated a service bureau, designing under contract both in Australia and worldwide. He is currently working with an advanced service bureau in Sydney, Australia.  Andy was one of the first designers certified as a CID (Certified Interconnect Designer) through the IPC Designers Council in 1995, now also certified as an Advanced Interconnect Designer (CID+). A past President of the North Texas Chapter of the Designers Council & Past Chairman of the Designers Council Executive Board, Andy remains a member of the Designers Council. A Master Instructor qualified to teach and certify other instructors, Andy is active in teaching Basic and Advanced Certification workshops. He is a past member of the Editorial Review Board of Printed Circuit Design magazine, and has written advanced design articles for that magazine. He has spoken at conferences and taught seminars and workshops throughout the USA, in Australia, China, Malaysia and the UK.

Pete Waddell

Pete Waddell is president of UP Media Group, publisher of Printed Circuit Design and Fab magazine and Circuits Assembly magazine. UPMG also produces the PCB Design Conference and the Printed Circuit University online education site. During his publishing career Pete has been editor and publisher of several magazines in the electronic and PCB markets including Printed Circuit Design magazine and PC Fab magazine, and conference chair for the PCB Design Conferences.  Before coming to the publishing world Pete spent 20 years as a PCB and electromechanical designer working on commercial and military applications. He started his career as a draftsman in the structural steel and civil engineering fields.

Gary Ferrari

Gary Ferrari is currently the Director of Technical Support for ITG Circuits. Gary has over 40 years experience in electronic packaging with an emphasis on printed board (PWB) design and manufacturing. He has held senior operations, quality and engineering positions in both OEM- and supplier-based environments, and has served as the executive director and co-founder of the IPC Designers Council. He has chaired a number of IPC technical committees on design, including the popular IPC-2221/2222 Design subcommittee. He served as chairman of the IPC Technical Activities Executive Committee, guiding IPC technical activities during his term. He has written numerous technical articles, and has provided design for manufacture (DFM) consulting services to the industry.  Gary spearheaded IPC’s highly successful PWB Designers Certification Program, which has trained and recognized over 3000 designers to date. Gary was honored with the IPC “President’s Award” in 1990, recognizing his contributions to the electronic interconnection industry, as well as to the association.

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