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Electronics Design Show 2013 preview

Design engineers in the UK have not had the best of service when it comes to national events.

Event organisers, when justifying disappointing exhibition attendances, often blame the lack of an 'exhibition culture' in this country, or even failings in a stereotypical engineer – who they say would rather communicate with a computer than with a fellow engineer.

Both accusations are obviously false and hide the core issue – if an event is interesting and worthwhile, then people will go to it. If it is not, then they will stay in front of those computers.

The success last year, therefore, of the Engineering Design Show underlines this theory. Using the same principles, a 2013 event is scheduled for 2 and 3 October and will again be held at the Ricoh Stadium in Coventry. What is more, this year the event has expanded into two separate events, with the Electronics Design Show now having its own identity.

Ed Tranter, the Event Director, explained how the Engineering Design Show was originally conceived. "We were getting tired of the fact that people were saying that we don't make anything anymore.
The national media were constantly lambasting the quality of British manufacturing and that it doesn't exist anymore, but on the design side we are still one of the world leading design areas. 36.8% of all non fabrication design in Europe takes people in the UK, and Germany is next with 8% – maybe we don't do all the gluing it together but, in terms of the design work, we are up there."

The British Engineering Excellence Awards were launched back in 2009 to redress this balance and present a more positive image of engineering in the UK. These awards have gone from strength to strength as they celebrate technological excellence without having the commercial pressures of some other Awards. Look out for the launch of this year's Awards programme in April (

However, while the Awards clearly serve a useful purpose, they do not provide the forum for engineers to meet, learn, and exchange information – hence the launch last year of the Engineering Design Show, an event to cover all areas of engineering design.

The initial aim was attract a 1000 engineers to the event and this goal was exceeded by 60%, defying the usual expectations of a UK event. So what was the secret? Tranter commented: "I don't think we are doing anything particularly clever. All we have done is to ask the market what it wants first, rather than the usual approach, which is to create something and tell the market it wants it. We have found out what the market wants and created it."

This research took the form of interviews with 600 engineers across the country asking what was important to them when in deciding whether or not to attend an event. Perhaps it should be no surprise that location was important – at 61% it was the most significant factor – as UK engineers typically are reluctant to travel to the big established German exhibitions (for example, only 10% of respondents visited electronica in Munich). The second most important factor (by some margin at 46%) was having an event dealing with specific topics.

Hosting a show in Coventry, within two hours striking distance of the majority of the design community, and focussing simply on design clearly met these core requirements.

Further research has shown that 41% of last year's attendees were electronics specialists and that there was a real desire (68%) for a dedicated electronics event, hence the launch this year of the Electronics Design Show. This will occupy the same hall at the Ricoh as the Engineering event did last year, while the Engineering Design Show will move to the adjacent hall offering three times as much floorspace.

The Electronics Design Show will have between 70 and 80 exhibitors, two workshop areas within the hall that will host 20 workshop sessions, and separate conference that will comprise 16 presentations.

Again, using the theory that people will come to the conference if it covers the issues they would like it to, the research programme asked electronics designers what they wanted to see in the programme.

This research revealed that topics of key interest include:
• Designing wireless communications systems
• Trends in displays and optoelectronics
• Mixed signal and analogue design
• Test and measurement
• Embedded software development
• Sensors and signal conditioning
• Designing with FPGAs
• Design for aerospace
• Design for automotive
• Design for medical
• Design for defence

While the conference programme will not be finalised until nearer the event, the above topics will be included within it. Having got the right location, Tranter believes that developing a conference programme of genuine interest will be another key component in attracting engineers. "If you look at the typical content of other conferences, it will be the suppliers talking – they book the stands and get a slot on the programme," claimed Tranter. "That is fine, but it is not going to attract anyone to anything.

However, at the Engineering Design Show last year, we had the managing director of BAE Systems' Advanced Technology Centre, we had the business development manager from McLaren Electronic Systems and the chief executive of the British Motor Sports Association. We also had the head of R&D for Agusta Westland Helicopters; all making keynote addresses. Content is what we provide and content is what makes people turn up."

While it is too early to register for the show, the important thing will be to reserve 2 and/or 3 October in your diary. The exhibition and workshops will be free and readers of New Electronics will not be charged to attend the conference if they register in advance. But, because space will be limited in both workshops and conference sessions, it will be important to reserve your seat in advance.

Visitors to the Electronics Design Show will also have free access to the Engineering Design Show and to Engineering Materials Live: one of the attractions of the last year's event was the cross-fertilisation of ideas and information between engineers involved in different aspects of design.

Further credibility for the event comes from its impressive list of industry partners which includes Intellect, Electronics Technology Network, UKEA, ECSN, IMECHe, EEF, IET, Institution of Engineering Designers, and British Design Institute.

The Electronics Design Show is all supported by its headline sponsors Altium, Premier EDA Solutions, Digi-Key, RS Components and Avnet Memec.


Chris Shipway, UK country director, Avnet Memec
"As a headline sponsor, Avnet Memec is delighted to be supporting the inaugural Electronics Design Show, which will be bringing innovation, learning and cutting edge technology to the UK's design engineering community. We are looking forward to working with the EDS team to make this the 'go to' event for UK design engineers."

Philip Mayo, managing director, Premier EDA solutions
"Findlay Media is providing an event that is distinctly relevant to Premier EDA Solutions and its customers. We are very excited to be headline sponsors and will be providing workshops, demonstrations and a showcase of UK ingenuity."

Glenn Jarrett, global head of product marketing, RS components
"RS Components has been supporting British engineering innovation for 75 years and is delighted to be participating in the Electronics Design Show in 2013, highlighting its commitment to play a leading role in helping new designs come to market."

Mark Larson, president, Digi-Key
Digi-Key is excited to be a headline sponsor of the 2013 Electronics Design Show. As we continue to expand our presence in Europe, we're pleased to have this opportunity to interact face to face with suppliers, customers and prospects in the UK.

Tim Fryer

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