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.
In my first column, I introduced the PCB fabrication course at Michigan Technological University (MTU) to prepare the next generation of PCB experts. In my second column, I shared some participating student’s thoughts via a recorded interview on their experience.
In my third installment, I want to acknowledge the many organizations and individuals that willingly and freely contributed their time, materials, and support to make this first “prototype” effort a success. Some comments on the experience from some of the participants are included as well. We’ll also give a sneak preview of some of the efforts underway to expand the efforts at MTU and to start similar grassroots, industry-academia supported programs elsewhere.
A key element of the class consisted of guest lecture presentations by industry experts—many whom traveled to Houghton, Michigan in the depths of winter to provide a direct interactive experience for the students. A schedule of those lectures was provided in the last installment in this series.
In addition to their time, companies and individuals supplied materials (e.g., laminate, photoresist, and other consumables), equipment refurbishment and installation support, software, and process engineering support before and during the class to help make the design, fabrication, assembly, and test capabilities for this class fully functional. That support was a major factor in enabling a true hands-on, start-to-finish process experience for the students. The outpouring of support from the industry and individuals has been truly overwhelming and is a reflection of the deep concerns we all feel about the developing experience gap facing electronics manufacturing (and other industries) in North America.
- Aeromarc, LLC (Marc Carter)
- Allen Woods & Associates (Bob Daul)
- Altium (Judy Warner)
- Bristlecone LLC (Rich Snogren)
- Calumet Electronics (Todd Brassard, José Cordero, Dr. Meredith LaBeau, Eliot Nagler)
- Essex Technologies (Doug Sober)
- Gentex (Brian Barksdale)
- I-Connect007 (Happy Holden)
- Insulectro (Trey Adams)
- MacDermid Alpha Electronics Solutions (Rich Bellemare, Bob Bowersox, Don Cullen)
- NSWC Crane (Jason Ferguson, Jarrett Wendell, Wm. “Dean” May)
- Plexus Corporation (Matthew Andres)
- TTM Technologies (Dave Sullivan)
- Uyemura (Don Gudeczauskas)
And, of course, the administration, engineering faculty, staff, and especially the students of MTU.
Additional reinforcement came through the formation of an IPC student chapter concurrent with the class. Chapter meetings provided another opportunity for guest subject-matter experts to go into more detail without some of the time constraints of the one-hour guest lectures and gain exposure to additional industry participants that couldn’t schedule an opening in the daytime class lecture series.
Comments From Participants
"Hands-on learning of techniques for manufacturing PCBs is exciting and energizing, helping students to reach their full potential. The domestic electronics industry desperately needs an infusion of talented early-career engineers. Chris Middlebrook and MTU are leading the charge with their PCB fabrication course. Industry support of the PCB fabrication course was outstanding with industry experts from all over the United States flying to guest lecture and impart their knowledge and expertise to the students. If the United States wants to strengthen and rebuild the domestic electronics industrial base, this program needs to be replicated on many campuses around the country." –Todd Brassard, VP/COO, Calumet Electronics
"I'm encouraged by the efforts by MTU, various industry companies, and IPC to inspire the next generation of leaders in the U.S. PCB industry. Beyond the importance of this kind of training, I know I speak for all participants in saying that it was a lot of fun to be a professor for a day." –Don Cullen, director of marketing communications, MacDermid Alpha Electronics Solutions
"Thank you to everyone who participated in the PCB guest lecture series. It was really incredible to have such a great line-up." –Dr. Chris Middlebrook, associate professor, MTU
"As has been said before, the PWB fabrication industry is in dire need of a young talent infusion. Having a class like this to teach engineering students what PWB fabrication is about is a great start. Also, having the basics of the process will help young engineers to design sensibly, which is a rare and wonderful thing." –Dave Sullivan, TTM Technologies
We will detail the active efforts at MTU with support from industry, alumni, and individuals to solidify and expand this course with more robust, modernized, and centralized design, fabrication, assembly, and test capabilities. Greater participation from other university departments to address the chemical, materials, mechanical, and other engineering and business aspects of this industry is expected. We will provide a progress report on efforts underway at two additional universities to replicate the success of this prototype class, reflecting the local needs and taking full advantage of the different resources available at each one.
For further information, email Dr. Middlebrook (email@example.com) or myself (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Marc Carter has worked in the electronics interconnection industry since 1984 in a variety of roles in fabrication and assembly materials, processes, environmental compliance, and supply chain management activities around the world. He has had the honor and privilege of working with and learning from many of the true giants of this industry in multiple functions over many years. His experience includes a major mil-aero OEM, field and development work at materials suppliers to the printed circuit industry, and an educational stint as the sole proprietor of a manufacturer’s agency representing multiple high-tech mil-aero material suppliers.