RIT partners with industry experts on new curriculum in electronics design and manufacturing

EMA Design Automation, Cadence Design Systems Inc. and the Rochester Institute of Technology are collaborating to provide college-level printed circuit board (PCB) design courses for RIT College of Engineering students.

Courses taught both online and in person by PCB design experts can provide engineers with opportunities for training and development in key areas of electronics design and manufacturing.

Over the next 15 years, 78 percent of PCB designers will no longer work in the industry due to retirement, according to an annual industry survey by Printed Circuit Design & Fab. Due to the critical shortage of trained professionals for printed circuit boards, this collaboration between college and industry can provide today’s students with the skills to meet production needs.

“Continuing education is essential for acquiring the critical skills and expertise needed to succeed in tomorrow’s work team,” said David Jankin, program director for the Cadence academic network. “Cadence is proud to support EMA and RIT in their efforts to make PCB design training easily accessible to new engineers. With the knowledge and understanding of this critical skill, they can continue to address complex technological challenges and stimulate innovation for the next generation of electronic devices. ”

EMA Design Automation sponsored the creation of this new training program, which was developed and reviewed by a team of PCB design experts. Cadence donated its OrCAD software for the course, which provided practical design instructions. The EMA also offers students the opportunity to take OrCAD certification as part of this course; today this software is widely used in production.

“I decided to take this course to gain a more formal understanding of PCB design and explore the various software packages from OrCAD,” said Noah Carrier, one of dozens of students currently taking a pilot course this spring semester. “All my experience in PCB design is self-study at work, so I don’t have an algorithmic way to attack new designs. I hope from this class that I have more knowledge to work with new and exciting technologies with a formal education in PCB design. I hope it will contribute to my career. ”

Common topics in the classes are methods of capturing electrical circuits, methods of designing a printed circuit board, knowledge of the production of printed circuit boards and other design constraints that correspond to printing. With that in mind, Carrier and his classmates can qualify for the certification offered by the company, “a nice bonus to the knowledge gained,” said Carrier, a fifth-year computer technology student from Rockland, Maine. He has participated in the cooperative and as a part-time employee of the Laser Energy Laboratory at the University of Rochester. After graduating in May, he will start working as a laboratory engineer.

Based on the concepts outlined in the popular book Hitchhiking on PCB Design, the curriculum provides opportunities for learning and development in the basics of design and manufacturing, familiarity with CAD software, including design for production. This further strengthens EMA’s drive to empower engineers and support the global EDA market through education, said Manny Marcano, President and CEO of EMA Design Automation.

“EMA is committed to supporting the next generation of engineers by giving them the skills they need to meet the current demands of the industry,” Marcana added. “Students want to succeed in the workplace, and our goal is to give them access to training and courses that will help them acquire the skills that employers are actively seeking.”

James Lee, acting chairman of RIT’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, agreed. This course combines both theory and application, and students find that it can potentially give them an edge in growing areas where next-generation PCBs are needed.

“RIT is leading, continuing to provide timely and appropriate learning opportunities related to the required knowledge and skills,” Lee said. “Our collaboration with EMA allows us to do just that. This curriculum will provide engineers with the combination of technological skills and higher-level skills needed to succeed in this rapidly changing industry. ”

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