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32 The PCB Design Magazine • May 2017 many scientific research projects in many dif- ferent fields, from FPGA-based digital design to ASIC design of custom hybrid memory cells. In- deed, I found that designing integrated circuits in Cadence tools, for example, was quite similar to PCB design: You have libraries with the com- ponents and a stack-up of layers, and vias that you use to properly interconnect them. During the next few months, I will be pro- moted to associate professor here at the Faculty of Electronic Engineering, University of Niš, Serbia. I will have the opportunity to organize a few courses in the Embedded Systems module of our Department for Electronics. My gut feeling, a consequence of the overall engineering experience I gained so far, tells me that today's students—future engineers, deserve to have a course covering many different aspects of PCB design, manufacturing and assembling processes. Let me be clear: I don't at all want to depreciate the importance of an understanding of the deep secrets of electrons and holes inside the silicon. Students certainly need to be quite familiar with transistors, diodes and the rest of the ingredients of any integrated circuit. Digital electronics, analog electronics, RF electronics, power electronics—everything is important. But let me ask you a couple of ques- tions: What is the final destination of every integrated circuit? What is it worth to master your knowledge of the chips if you are unable to properly interconnect them and benefit from them? Ultimately, a vast majority of graduates will hopefully become engineers. Don't they de- serve to have some useful skills in their briefcase while knocking on the doors of industry? Truly, the least that faculties can do is to ded- icate one of their dozens of courses to the sub- ject of printed circuit board design. Nowadays, in the era of very large scale integration, when electronic devices tend to become smaller yet more powerful, designing printed circuit boards requires more than just technical skills. Placing numerous tiny chips next to each other, dealing with high-speed signals, suppressing the noise, achieving a high-density of interconnections and, primarily, making a printed circuit board that is manufacturable, fully functional and re- liable does not seem to be like a trivial job to me. I have a sincere desire to offer my students some instruction in printed circuit board de- sign. At the moment, I'm in the early stages of establishing a course curriculum. Some PCB design aspects that I intend to cover with the course are as follows: • Of course, the basics: Students need to master how to create their own libraries of com- ponents, schematic symbols and footprints, how to design schematic files, how to appropri- ately place the components within the available board area and how to properly interconnect them without breaking any design rules. Gen- erating Gerber files, the 2D binary images of all board layers that will be used during the board manufacturing process, is also something that falls under the basic skills category. The same applies for pick-and-place files that contain x,y coordinates of each component on the board as well as its orientation. Those files are neces- sary during the process of automated PCB as- sembling. The students should also know how to extract useful information from the compo- nent's datasheet, as well as learning about the different through-hole and SMD packages of the chips, etc. • In addition to the basics, some more ad- vanced and important topics from PCB design world certainly deserve special attention. Stu- dents should learn about primary and second- ary effects of electrical currents passing through the PCB lines, electromagnetic coupling be- tween the lines, crosstalk, and methods for rout- ing differential pairs of high-speed signals. The notions of blind and buried vias, grounding, LAUNCHING A NEW PCB DESIGN CURRICULUM IN SERBIA " Digital electronics, analog electronics, RF electronics, power electronics—everything is important. "

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