Birds of a Feather: PCB Carolina and the RTP Designers Council


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The PCB Carolina show in Raleigh, North Carolina, has grown quite a bit in the past decade from a local show to a regional event that now draws attendees and exhibitors from all over the U.S.

At PCB Carolina 2018, I met with show founders Tony Cosentino, Randy Faucette, and Lance Olive, who are all employees at the Better Boards service bureau in nearby Cary. I asked the trio to discuss the show’s history, its relationship to the Research Triangle Park (RTP) North Carolina Chapter of the IPC Designers Council, as well as the show’s tremendous growth over the past few years.

Andy Shaughnessy: I'm here at PCB Carolina. Tony, why don't you start and tell us about the RTP Chapter of the IPC Designers Council.

Tony Cosentino: I got involved with the Designer Council in 2002. I was on the board of directors for a year, then ran for VP and did that for a year. Then, I took on the president spot.

I learned about the mission of the Designers Council from the leaders that came before me. The mission is to network with our industry, promote our business (PCB design) as a profession, and teach people technical skills and share information.

We've taken that to heart and offer as many technical opportunities as we can for as little a cost as we can to keep the community engaged. It’s all about networking.

Shaughnessy: Now, tell us how the RTP chapter figures into the launch of PCB Carolina.

Cosentino: Around 2000, in the early years of the IPC Designers Council, our local RTP chapter put on very small trade shows, about two hours long with maybe eight or 10 vendors, and it was to get PCB design software vendors and manufacturers in front of the Designers Council members, so that they could see new technologies, capabilities, and roadmaps.

That grew into something bigger over the years. In 2005, we came up with the idea of growing this into a trade show, and in 2008, we moved into the Raleigh Convention Center. Randy came up with the name PCB Carolina. It was his baby from the start. Maybe I'll let Randy speak to that.

Randy Faucette: Sure. We took this show from something small—just meeting space at a local hotel—and moved to the convention center, which had more space. That meant we wouldn’t be limited to the main software companies and a couple of fabrication shops, but could really expand it to benefit all of the engineering disciplines and put companies that had special products or services in front of potential customers.

We wanted to do it without large, expensive booth space to keep it to more of a tabletop show where the small million-dollar company could be represented next to a billion-dollar company. There are many local companies in this very high-tech area. There wasn't a PCB show here in the RTP area, so we felt like there was an opportunity to do something about that.

To read this entire interview, which appeared in the December 2018 issue of Design007 Magazine, click here.

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