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Does hardware engineer draw the pcb by themselves?

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Advanced Member level 4
Nov 30, 2002
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I am a hardware engineer. I only draw the schematic and sent the netlist to layout engineer.
I want to know if hardware engineer draw the pcb themselves in US and in Europe.

I do not know the US, but in Europe, PCBs are not drawn by the hardware engineer. You only draw the schematics.

Here in the Philippines, we do the same thing. We have a team of pcb engineers who do the layout for us but with a bit of guidance.

One company I once worked for had the policy that engineers were not allowed to do the layout themselves. To prevent bad board layout (neat, all in a row) I used to go and sit next to the girl in the drawing office doing my layouts. It took some time to convince her that a nice looking neat board layout maybe totally useless to me! So basically I told her where to place the critical components and tracks. Later when I became project manager I managed to have engineers be allowed to do at least the critical placement and routing themseves. Saved a lot of wasted time and re-do's at the end.

If you do the layout yourself or be at least involved during the layout, the whole process of testing and debugging becomes that much easier because you already have a feel for the board, without the need to hunt for components and testpoints between schematics and part placement on the pcb.

I guess it depends on comapnies...

In big companies, Hardware designer just draw schematic & decided package to be used & pass the design with constraints to Layout Engineer.

In small companies, you got to be jcak of all.

I will finish my studies soon, and I worry about that. I think the PCB and the schematic is the same thing, and should not be separated. I design hardware, and also the PCB (university projects). There are a lot of reasons, why should do both things the same person.
But unfortunately, this is a (bad) custom to separate. Mainly in high speed circuits and RF analog. Maybe it originates from the recent decades, when Signal integrity wasn't a matter. If two person do that, it is harder to make a circuit work.

As I heard from the Ericsson, and other big companies in Hungary, they do the same wrong thing.

As far as I know, in small companies the hardware engineer do everything including layout. but in big companies they do schematics only, there's pcb group, or they send the job to layout companies.

I am just a fresh computer engineer and in university i learned to do both things by myself, i also done some pcbs after that i feel to do both by myself.
I feel that we can devide it in three catagories ... first are small and medium designs which are easy to understand and handle by a simple person, for these one person should do both schematic and layout designing as it will reduce chance of signal integrity and also cover up other complexities.
Second are those designs which are relatively Big and where signal integrity is main issue, so here it is better to combine both Schematic design engineers and Lasayout design engineers into a single team to cover signal integrity properly.
Third are those big designs which are also big but need more specialization (Professionalism) in both fields ... so here both should be seperate ... and we need to compensate some problem like sigal integrity

second and third are opposite of each and to cover there opposite drawbacks a forth approach is also there that would be needed in very big and highly senstive designs ... where specialization is must and signal integrity is also too much important ... in that case there should be a team of engineers which monitor all process ... and that should be called Design Team ...

There are several reasons why some companies choose to separate Schematic Design Engineers from Layout Engineers, In my present company we do thesame.

One reason is we want both engineers to be experts in their fields. Having the high level of expertise in a particular MegaBlock/section or circuit, we then enable full blown projects to be delivered in matter of months.

Im talking about microprocessors and NOR/NAND Flash circuits where engineers try to develop new designs and adopt to new processes almost every four months.

The concerns on the schematic design engineer not doing the layout is just a problem in communication...

Work as a team, enhance each others skills... You guys said that you will be graduating soon...

Sooner you will learn that a person who knows TEAMWORK is more important to the company, better than a very intelligent "ASSHOLE".

Good luck on your endeavors,,, whatever....

I do both schematic and layout . If the design is so dense then more than 2 people get involved in doing schematic layout and library

Sooner you will learn that a person who knows TEAMWORK is more important to the company, better than a very intelligent "ASSHOLE".

..................... Very Right ...............:D

I was also clear that from my college days but now i am more clear of that ... as now i am on Job ...

Normally A hardware engineer is required to help layout engineer on the component placement, but a hardware engineer does not need to layout the PCB.

In my company schematic and layout are separate.
I used to work for a smaller company where I was in charge of RF design.
I was in charge of both schematics and layout (for the RF part of the design)
To be honnest, there is some advantage combining both function:
schematic designer know which nets are sensitive and must be handle carefully.
But usually this enginner is not familiar with the layout software and its work is slow and not very efficient.
nevermind, its very interesting for a schematic enginner to know how it works, what can be done with a layout software.


I work in a company in egypt, i do the schematic and pcb myself, i think this is much better, as i know where the critical pathes is and where the noise can generate, spending time beside the one doing the pcb will take the same time required to do the job. also imagine yourself in his palce doing a pcb for some circut, u even don't know what does it do..its very boaring they always leave work soon enough.

schematic designer know which nets are sensitive and must be handle carefully.
But usually this enginner is not familiar with the layout software and its work is slow and not very efficient.

I agree. It really depends, in big companies, a design group includes hardware engineer, structure engineer, mechanical engineer, layout engineer, sourcing engineer and so on. So it will be very trouble for our pcb manufacturing engineer to deal with them since you have to ask different questions to different guys, they handle only own field stuff. When it comes to small company, it seems one person cover everything- from my side, I prefer this way:)

the main reason of separating has advantages for the management only. if they divide a project, then they need only lower skilled employees, so easier to replace them. if 3 people do the same thing, then they need people with (just a littlebit more than) 1/3 knowledge. And also good for those people who can not learn all the sides of the design, this way they dont have to, but they still can say about themselfs that they are professionals. (its similar to the difference between a technician and an engineer, but one level higher.)

but what if i have more than enough knowledge on all parts? even for very-very complex designs? they still want to take the other parts from me. it doesnt mean that all of their employees have to learn and increase their knowledge by 100-200%, just let me use all my knowledge. i know, this way the companies would not look so uniform, which is a bad feeling for the managers. as other people said here, this produces better results in the development.

(i work now at a small company, so i dont have this problem, but i am planning to change to another job)

In very complex and technically difficult designs it's better to have an expert for each aspect...

I know someone who does *everything* , from writing microcontroller code, setting up a tcp/ip stack with a small web server to control a very high power (think 100kW...) RF (think 500 MHz) source. He also designed every single board. And the mechanics (think cray style racks of boards, every board has RF and microcontroller, runs a local web server for configuration and monitoring...). And water cooling system. And the power combiner. Then he wrote the documentation.


It took YEARS, and if he leaves the dept will have to start from scratch. The manager of the guy main objective MUST BE to get himself promoted away before the resident genius retires...

Time to market ? Forget it.

If you are running a company, you'll want to avoid that situation.

and who earns more, the hardware (sch) designer, or the layout engineer? (i am both in the same time, so i dont know) how much more?

and who has more overview on the other persons work? really the sch engineer works on a higher level? (even for high-speed?)

any decent hardware engineer should be capable of doing both. i don't say that he should do it , but he should be able to.

You can not design a system if you have no notion of board layout , how to make transmission lines, where to split ground and power planes , how to route high speed signals , do impedance control on a board , understand what is signal skew , understand how a multilayer board is made , how cross coupling on a board can play a role etc.

the hardware engineer should always assist the pcb layouter, and for the really triscky things the hardware engineer should put down the rules. In order to put down the rules you need to understand what can and cannot be done ( geometries , drill holes , is it goign to be manufacturable ? will the pick and place be able to do that / .

i have seen numerous *mayor* screw ups becaus hardware engineers fetl they were 'too good' to do the 'lowly' board layout stuff.
Where i work it is MANDATORY ( and thats a 65000 emplyee top 4 semiconductor manufacturer. the same goes for the analog chip designers ; they better know how to layout o silicon ... ) to do the board layout for the critical area's yourself and very frequently you do the entire board layout. period.

if i interview candidates for hardware engineer i have two questions
- do you know how to layout a board. - do you know how to solder ?
even thouh we have dedicated persons soldering , i want the candidate to be able to swap a tssop , 0805 or 0603 component all by himself. he can leace the BGA and TQFPs to the soldering persones , but to swap a simple part he or she should be able to cope. you cannot wait half a day everytime a simple resistor needs swapping out ...

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