Design007 Magazine

PCBD-Mar2014

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40 The PCB Design Magazine • March 2014 the town crier finite man-hours, just to get their thoughts on paper so that others can grow their skill sets ex- ponentially. This same participating group gets inversely proportional amounts recognition, usually little or none. Third, to all of the EDA tool vendors, thank you for show- ing us how to use these tools so that we can become more productive. They have tak- en a wide variety of ideas, equations, and other theo- ries, and synthesized them to formulate tools that have subtracted hours, weeks and months from design sched- ules. All the while, these companies have helped us understand and master the additions of newer design concepts, such as high- speed signals and HDI via stackups. Lastly, we need to rec- ognize that the majority of growth and education is ac- tually indebted to the PCB design community itself, who have remained a posi- tive force at seminars, webi- nars, and vendor fairs. If all four of these groups were put into the denomina- tor, from any starting point in the past few decades, the nu- merators of the participation for each of these groups would slowly approach the absolute zero of Lord Kelvin. Businesses (and society in general) prefer to align themselves with formal education (de- grees, awards, and certificates) rather than infor- mal education (i.e., the school of hard knocks), because it affirms that a person has participat- ed in a structured environment and attended a minimum set of science-based foundational courses. Yet it is the formal educational model that has never materialized for our industry. Formal education provides the best founda- tion for growth as a subject matter expert, but education is also now a business. Yes, there are rankings of the top schools for each vocation, but it is also about the economics of providing a curriculum that will attract the most money from students, alumni, industry, and special interest groups. Informal education flour- ished when major companies' engineering teams actively participated with the manu- facturing community. Side "special projects" of experi- mentation allowed for dis- coveries and inventions that created advancements in the PCB design process. But as interest and money was di- verted away from these proj- ects, informal education op- portunities dried up. The PCB design process has been stable for more than 20 years. The only sig- nificant PCB educational push in the past 10 years has focused on better under- standing the physics of the newer devices and their in- teraction with the substrate interconnections. When new PCB design articles are written, the most effective way to distribute this content is through the Internet. The weekly/monthly distribution of these articles has caused me to take a step back and notice a sig- nificant education void that boils down to three high-level questions: 1. Why aren't these PCB design process ar- ticles being channeled into formal courses, lab experiments and textbooks? 2. Why hasn't there been an industry push to create a complete and consistent curriculum that could be taught by every technical college in the world? 3. Is the PCB user community content with the current education situation, or do they want more than what is being offered? Informal education flourished when major companies' engineering teams actively participated with the manufacturing community. Side "special projects" of experimentation allowed for discoveries and inventions that created advancements in the PCB design process. But as interest and money was diverted away from these projects, informal education opportunities dried up. " " DIFFERENTIAL EDuCATION 101 FOR PCB DESIGNERS continues

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