PCB Design Apprentice

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What was it like to start working as a PCB design engineer? I Started working for DL Designs as an apprentice after I completed my A-Levels. I came to DL Designs with qualifications in physics, electronics and maths. University wasn’t the best option for me and learning on the job whilst gaining working experience was the best for me. Therefore, I found the apprenticeship with DL Designs. I found it challenging at first. For instance, learning a new set of skill whilst working in a new environment.

How did you find the job initially. What did you struggle with? It was surprising how complicated PCB software was. Different PCB layout software work and function differently. For instance, Cadence Allegro is the main tool at DL Designs. I started learning the basics with Allegro, particularly creating footprints and tidying references. DL Designs works to a high standard to a satisfy it’s customers. However, my colleagues were helpful and encouraging to enhance my skills as a PCB designer.

What was your role within the business at the beginning? Once I had learned the operation of DL Designs, my main role was to generate the footprints using an IPC generator. This creates the part as well as supplying the optimal pad size, solder mask and paste sizes may differ depending on the part. Above all, creating footprints is one of the most important parts of PCB design. After that, I moved into the routing the PCBs. I started with Allegro at first and then onto Altium and PADS.

What do you enjoy most from designing PCBs? What give you the most satisfaction? I find routing PCB layouts the most satisfying part of my job. Cadence Allegro is the main tool at DL Designs. I started learning the basics with Allegro, creating footprints and tidying references. Most of our designs are very complex. For instance I have to adopt various routing strategies to complete my objectives. Thinking 2, 3 or even 10 steps ahead is key to routing complicated areas such as BGAs or Ethernet signals. I also enjoy knowing working products will be developed from my designs. Meeting my customer’s needs around the world, even in Outer Space!

What do you hope to learn in the future to better yourself as a PCB designer? I am currently learning how to work with PCB layouts using DDR technology. Allegro is the best tool for high-speed PCBs, For instance, the rules can work with other rules, even within rules. PCB designs using length matching, phase tuning, and relative propagation delays are more common. It’s important to master these. I Gained experience with; Allegro, Altium, PADS, Eagle and Solid Works will help become better as a PCB design engineer. In conclusion, being part of a successful design bureau is getting the job done right first time. Click here to see our guide on Switch Mode Power Supplies See our guide on designing a good pcb layout Check out our video on high speed design