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July 2006

International engineers come to Limerick for training provided by IC Mask Design.

Limerick, Ireland, July 2006. IC Mask Design Ltd., a thriving indigenous engineering company, headquartered in the National Technology Park, Limerick, has achieved new heights of success by attracting a multitude of international engineers to one of its training facilities in Limerick.

The company, whose primary services include the provision of IC Layout training courses to the semiconductor industry, recently ran one of their Advanced Analog, Layout Techniques (AALT01) programs.

Course attendees, who were representative of a number of the largest and most reputable engineering companies in the industry, travelled considerable distances to partake in the 4-day course. Among these were engineers from China, Scotland, the UK and the United States, who had secured their place on the course several months ago and seemed only too happy to travel the distance to Limerick.

Mr. Chris Hill, Layout Engineer for AMI Semiconductor attended the course and commented: "The instructor Ciaran was very clear and concise in his presentation of course principles. The techniques presented in this course, I am sure, will prove to be an asset to me, and to those I share them with. I highly recommend this course to anyone looking to strengthen there knowledge and understanding of Analog Layout. The time and cost will be made up quickly through the time and quality of your layout."

Mr. Darragh Walsh, Senior Design Engineer for Xilinx recalled the courseas being: "An invaluable addition to an engineers skill-set."

About Master-IC™ Training

IC Mask Design Ltd. formed its training division, namely Master-IC™ Training in early 2004 and has since carved itself a position as one of the most dominant global players in the area of IC Layout training.

Mr. Fergal Brosnan, co-founder and Chief Executive Officer for IC Mask Design spoke on the formation and development of the extensive range of courses provided by Master-IC™ Training:

"Since the company’s inception, our core offering has been the provision of physical design services. However, three years ago, it became apparent to us that there was an obvious gap in the market for continuous and specialised layout training. Moreover, there were limited training providers and options available to companies who had a requirement to up-skill their engineers.

"This presented an opportunity for IC Mask Design. We decided to expand the business and develop a training division that would consist of a set of generic courses which could be universally applicable to semiconductor companies.

"Demand for the courses has grown tremendously over the past two years, especially at international level, surpassing all our expectations. Master-IC™ Training courses, to a great extent, compliment our design services very well and strengthen the company’s position to provide a more coherent service offering to clients."

Over the past two years the company has trained over 100 engineers. Feedback has been overwhelming; with an impressive 98% of attendees at the company's training courses recommending Master-IC™ Training to their peers in the industry.

Course Options

To begin with, Mr. Ciaran Whyte, co-founder and Chief Technical Officer for IC Mask Design developed both the Analog and Advanced Analog Layout courses in conjunction with the CMOS layout course.

These were soon followed with the launch of the company’s RF layout and Digital Layout courses. Currently, Master-IC™ Training comprises of seven fully developed courses, in addition to numerous 1-day seminars, which cover topics such as ‘layout techniques for ESD structures’, ‘layout parasitics’ and ‘skill programming for the physical designer’.

A contributing factor to IC Mask Design's feat is the variety of choices it offers to companies who decide to engage their training services. Training courses are targeted at all levels of expertise, which focus on the development of physical design skills, and are independent of any EDA tool environment. Courses run, in key geographical locations worldwide and incorporate the complete spectrum of IC Layout.

Course deployment is extremely flexible. They can be administered on-site at the client’s facilities or offsite at either IC Mask Design’s engineering centre in Maynooth, or at their offices in Limerick. Alternatively, they can also be administered at an independent location requested by the client. In addition to this, the company run ‘public courses’, whereby an open invitation to participate in the course is extended to engineers from a host of different companies, or a ‘specific course’ which is a course run for the benefit of one individual company.

"Our flexibility in the deployment of all our services, including our training programs, has made us an obvious partner of choice" comments John Johnson, Engineering Manager for IC Mask Design. John goes on to say: "Our engineering expertise has distinguished us from other training providers and has given us the competitive edge we need to make this service offering the success it is today".

Value creation in engineering today is centered on people, not on hard assets.

All professional service firms rely on the strength and intellectual capital of their people, and engineering firms are no exception to this rule. Firms that view training and development as a strategic initiative do so because it helps them reduce costs, increase speed and efficiency in design, and ultimately increase profitability.

A recent report form CASE (Council for Advancement and Support of Education) noted that: "The half life of a college degree is growing shorter and shorter. Particularly with rapidly changing technology, employees must learn continuously so that their firm stays competitive.

"The fact is, investing in employee development is a smart choice. Firms that view training and development as an investment rather than a benefit pay more attention to their efforts in this area.

"As innovative cycles in this field are fairly short, the application of design requires continuous training for the staff involved in this task. With advances in technology and decreasing geometries, training in IC Layout has a crucial role play in the evolution of the industry."

Mr. Gary Carroll , Director for IC Mask Design commented: "The time has come for those of us involved in industry and education to come together and embrace a crusade of practical and relevant training that will excite and motivate talented engineers. In return, they will be inspired and empowered to produce high-quality technological and commercially viable products and services for this dynamic industry."

Future courses are scheduled to run in Germany (Dresden and Munich), Ireland, Austria and the UK over the coming months.

About Master-IC™ Training

Master-IC™ Training – the training division of IC Mask Design – was launched in early 2004, and has since carved out a position as a dominant global player in the area of IC Layout training.

Further information is available from the Master-IC™ Training website.

About IC Mask Design

IC Mask Design is an industry leader in the provision of Physical Design Services and Software Solutions to the semiconductor industry. The company’s services encompass IC Layout and Training Programs, delivering expertise in Analog, RF, mixed-signal and digital design using the latest tools from leading EDA vendors. IC Mask Design also provides training courses covering the complete spectrum of physical design. Its Analog Layout Acceleration Platform aims to dramatically reduce analog layout design cycle time whilst producing optimal quality layout structures which incorporate circuit functionality requirements and process artefacts.

Further information is available from IC Mask Design's web site.

For more details, please contact:

Fergal Brosnan
Tel: +353 (0)61 312 842