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40 DESIGN007 MAGAZINE I AUGUST 2021 Feature Article by Michael Steffen, CID CRYSTAL GROUP Over the last few decades, electronics have become an exponentially more important part of our daily lives, and in turn electronics design- ers have become highly sought aer. e field is massively diverse in focus to cater to many different markets. is has led in some ways to much broader availability of resources to the junior designer, but on the flipside, the avail- ability of "good" resources can still be lacking. Let's take a look at some of the resources avail- able, and how to make the best of them. I've been doing PCB design for about 15 years. I started in high school, drawing out simple circuits in an image editor and raiding the local Radio Shack for ferric chloride and copper-clad boards for toner transfer etch- ing. e results were crude, and oen didn't work, but the process was fascinating—and truthfully still is. For as empowering as it can be, PCB design has a shockingly low barrier to entry. Radio Shacks are harder to find today, but the materials are all still readily available from online shops. In contrast to my early days of hand etching, there are now dozens of PCB fabricators willing to make full-featured proto- type boards for just a few dollars. Furthermore, over the last decade the num- ber and quality of free-to-use EDA soware options has exploded, and features that were once only available in soware suites costing many thousands of dollars are now making their way into open-source offerings. ere has practically never been a less expensive time to get into the field. But while access to tools and supplies has improved dramatically, access to quality train- ing has not kept pace. Sure, there are thou- sands of videos on YouTube, but they all con- vey slightly different information in a slightly different way, and not always accurately. And higher education is not always the solution either; my own alma mater did not offer a PCB-specific course at the time I was working on my degree. So, it can be difficult for a junior designer or engineer to find the practical infor- mation they need to realize their design. ere certainly are quality resources out there. Many of these are in the form of topic- specific books; there is great knowledge in the Seeking Out Design Education Resources Michael Steffen

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