Better to Light a Candle: Chapter Two—Introduction to PCB Fabrication


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Editor’s Note: This column is part of a series on a new university course in PCB manufacturing at Michigan Technological University. Marc will chronicle the progress of this class, interview the guest lecturers, introduce the students, etc. The interview with students was also edited for clarity.

In my first column, I reported on a grassroots effort being started to prepare the next generation of printed circuit board (PCB) “experts.” A fortunate alignment of academia, the industry, resources, and concerned, well-seasoned board geeks came together to pass on PCB experience to the next generation through a very practical design, build, assemble, and test opportunity at Michigan Technological University (MTU). I also shared the thoughts of a few of the many people that were key players in getting this effort started. 

As a reminder, “EE4800: Printed Circuit Board Fabrication” is a hands-on class intended to give engineering undergraduate students an introduction to the basics of printed circuit design, fabrication, and assembly, which started on January 14 of this year. A high-level overview of the course, it’s approach, and goals can be seen in the poster shared at several events at IPC APEX EXPO 2019 in San Diego, California (Figure 1).

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Figure 1: EE4800 course poster.

Here’s an abridged excerpt of the course description:

“Printed circuit board fabrication techniques are presented and explored utilizing wet-chemical process techniques. Single and multilayer boards using internal layers for power and ground planes as well as plated feed-through via structures, solder masks, and silk screens will be discussed. While hands-on fabrication will be the main focus, students will be introduced to software design packages specific to circuit layout and design. Final testing and evaluation of the fabricated boards will be performed.”

A major portion of the class consists of guest lecture presentations by industry experts, many whom traveled to Houghton, Michigan, this winter to provide the most direct interactive experience for the students. A schedule of those lectures can be found in Table 1.

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Table 1: EE4800 guest lecture calendar.

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