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44 DESIGN007 MAGAZINE I AUGUST 2021 Feature Article by Kelly Dack EPTAC A few years ago, I had the opportunity to work for a prototype PCB supplier in Seattle. My role at this manufacturer was to represent the company's capabilities to the many PCB designers and engineers in the area and to reach out to help them understand important DFM considerations in their designs. Earlier, I'd had a life-changing realization regarding the important requirements of our low-volume, in-house PCB assembly stake- holders. Could it be that I was being given an opportunity to see more—this time from the perspective of the PCB fabricator? ey too face challenges every day from designers who should know more about DFM for PCB fab- rication. You might say that over the past six years I have become "woke" to the daily chal- lenges our PCB manufacturing stakeholders face when designers and engineers show disre- gard for solid DFM practices. You may remember three years ago that this magazine was asking, "Who will fill your shoes?" While working in Seattle, it did not take me long to answer that question. Every day for my job, I had the opportunity to drive to several Seattle-based design companies and meet with their engineering staffs, usu- ally full of young, recently graduated electri- cal engineers. Almost every company I visited had employed several recent EE graduates (all named Zach, Ian, or Ashley, it seemed) who were tasked with laying out PCBs. I could tell in a heartbeat that these kids were smart. Some of them were involved in the Maker subculture and had already been exposed to etching printed circuits and find- ing creative ways to manually solder their own PCB assemblies. is exploding population of creative brilliance was dangerous, though. It seemed they could learn new layout and sig- nal integrity soware in a matter of days. Edu- cated in the universities, with a two-week sur- vey course on PCB design if they were lucky, these electronics engineering graduates were turned loose into the industry. eir ability to learn the layout tools quickly without being educated in DFM enabled them to pump out unmanufacturable designs just as quickly. We saw PCBs with odd numbers of Paying it Forward: DFM Education for Engineering Grads Kelly Dack

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