TLA Frequently Asked Questions
What is the deadline for entry?
July 30, 2012
When will I be notified if I won?
The awards webinar is September 24, 2012.
How will I be notified?
You will receive an email to the address you provide on the submission form.
Do I have to complete the form at one time or can I finish later?
You may complete the form in stages. Information you enter will be securely stored for your next visit.
What happens if I recognize a mistake after I submit my entry?
If you define a login/password on your original entry, you can change your data even after submitting the entry.
Who will review my submissions?
There will be a panel of independent judges who will review and rank all entries. The company name, designer name and contact information is not visible during the judging process to prevent any bias. The judging panel is comprised of industry thought leaders, publication editors and some of your peers.
Who are the judges this year?
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; Charles Pfeil, engineering director, Mentor Graphics; and Rick Hartley, senior principal engineer, Avionics Division of L-3 Communications. Also this year an honorary judge will be included: Dr. Russell F. Henke, hi-tech business consultant since 1996 and EDACafe.com contributing editor since 2003.
What are the judging criteria?
The judges typically look at the complexity of the design stats (pad density, fabrication complexity, design constraints such as high speed, …) but will also pay a lot of attention to your write-ups as to the challenges your team faced during design process and how you overcame those challenges using your design experience and the tools available. So just submitting a design with impressive stats does not assure a win. Good write-ups at the end of the submission form really help the judges. Good design images are also critical. Review the Design Guidelines document for more ideas for winning entries.
Can I submit more than one entry?
Yes. You can submit as many entries as you like. You must, however, complete your first entry form before submitting another entry. You will need a unique username/password for each entry.
What will I receive if I win?
Global recognition of the company and design team through a press release and presentations / webinars. You may also be featured in industry publications. You will receive a TLA plaque featuring your design for the company office. As well, winning design teams will be awarded Google Nexus 7 Tablets (3 maximum per team), or a donation of equal value to a charity of their choice.
What design data is required for an entry?
The data includes parameters of your design (e.g. number of layers, components, nets, etc), a description of the challenges faced in the design process, and supporting documentation (e.g. design images, specs). Please review the Design Entry Guidelines document for details. We use Valor NPI to extract design data, simplifying the entry process and improving data accuracy. Entrants are given a 30 day license for use with their entry.
What design entry information is published?
See the webinar from last year for the best example of how design entry data is used (it’s typically one screenshot and a few small statistics of the winners). Board images are captured from the submitted files (data is not published in ODB++, CCZ, PDF or other electronic formats). Please review the disclaimer at the start of the entry process (available in the Design Entry Guidelines).
Who has access to the submitted design information?
The full entry is only made available to the judges and Mentor Graphics employees. Because external judges are used, the existing Mentor Graphics NDA does not apply. The judges treat the information as confidential because they understand the importance of this to Mentor and our customers.
Why do I need to supply more than just screen shots of my design?
You can still supply screen shots. However, the judges have asked for more information to help them review the designs (beyond the usual few screenshots). Screenshots are typically low resolution, not permitting review of design details. ODB++, PDF or CCZ data do not have this limitation. Most people delete a layer from the output data to maintain the security of the design.
Can I send you my original design database?
No. The judges would have to install every EDA flow (and every version) to review the data. To maintain the security of your design, please send ODB++, CCZ or PDF outputs (or screenshots if these aren’t possible).
I am concerned about IP security – what is the minimum information required?
Please review the design entry guidelines for the required data. After review of this information, most agree that their security will not be compromised. The greatest concern is generally around design images. The minimum requirement is a few screen shots of the design, but to be competitive, images in ODB++, PDF or CCZ formats are preferred. If only screen shots are supplied, please include as many individual layers as possible (one image with all layers turned on is very difficult to review). If you submit data in ODB++, PDF or CCZ, you can control which layers are included, and can remove net/component names (see pg. 6/7 in the Automated TLA Extraction PDF). See note above regarding published materials.
Why should I (and my company) participate?
Winning this competition provides good exposure for the company and their advanced electronics products. It also provides exposure for the design team within the company and the global design community.
Can I submit on behalf of the entire engineering organization?
You can recognize individuals or the whole team. If you want to submit as a team, just indicate “XYZ design team” under Additional Designer Names (in this case, the team contact’s name won’t be used).
How long has Mentor Graphics been conducting this competition?
This is the 24th annual competition.
What are the design categories?
The categories for this year’s competition are:
- 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
Who won last year?
See the 2011 winners. Review the associated webinar for more details about why they won.