Planning Your Design Education Strategy


Reading time ( words)

There are (finally) some young people joining the PCB design and design engineering community. We’re glad to see their youthful faces at trade shows and conferences. But if you’re a recent grad and working in your first “real” job, you might be asking yourself: How do I set up an education and training plan for my career in PCB design? What’s my next step?

We asked Eric Bogatin to weigh in with his thoughts. Eric has a unique viewpoint: He’s a veteran signal integrity instructor, as well as a professor in the College of Engineering and Applied Science at the University of Colorado, Boulder. In this interview, Eric lays out some of his planning strategies and the need for a degree in electrical engineering in the PCB design world.

Andy Shaughnessy: Eric, how do you help your students plan their educational objectives at the college?

Eric Bogatin: This is an important question. It is never too early to start thinking about what your career goals are, either working in the industry or just as a student. If a student is not 100% clear and dedicated to a particular path, I encourage them to use the opportunity as an undergraduate to experiment and explore topics. They need to get enough experience to figure out what they like—design, measurement, software, simulation, circuits, fields, designing systems, working with people, working behind a computer, teaching, or something else.

Once they have a sense of what they really enjoy and a plan, then we select courses to help support that path. Because of the core courses most EE students need to take, there is not a lot of flexibility, but there are usually four or five electives that a student can select.

Shaughnessy: What criteria should designers keep in mind when evaluating their educational needs in the industry?

Bogatin: You need a balance between the fundamental principles and the hands-on experience applying these principles. Taking online classes is fine, but plan to get some kits so you can actually build and measure circuits. Taking some courses in which you will get experience designing and building reference designs will help build your confidence.

Shaughnessy: What would you advise to PCB designers who want to set up their own strategic learning plans?

Bogatin: If you want to be a PCB designer, rather than a circuit designer and hardware designer, then you probably don’t need a BSEE degree. Just getting some electronics experience and training in designing and building some boards is good enough to get started. But if you are going to be a hardware engineer and take responsibility for the circuit design and do the board design, then a BSEE and lots of hands-on experience designing and building circuits is important. You cannot get too much experience building working circuits in a solderless breadboard to gain experience in debugging and characterizing circuits.

To read this entire conversation, which appeared in the March 2022 issue of Design007 Magazine, click here.

Share




Suggested Items

HyperLynx: There’s an App for That

08/05/2022 | I-Connect007 Editorial Team
I recently spoke with Todd Westerhoff, product marketing manager for signal integrity software tools at Siemens. We discussed a new capability called HyperLynx Apps that offers a new take on traditional signal and power integrity analysis, and how that fits in with the Siemens plan to put SI and PI tools into the hands of more designers early in the design cycle.

Webinar Review: Thermal Integrity of High-Performance PCB Design

08/01/2022 | Andy Shaughnessy, Design007 Magazine
Electrical and mechanical engineers may be working on the same product development teams, but they speak different languages, and they have completely different objectives. As a result, these folks almost never use the same software tools. But Cadence’s new Celsius Thermal Solver is an exception to the rule. In a new CadenceTECHTALK webinar, “How Static and Dynamic IR Drop Analysis Can Help PCB Designs and Challenges,” product manager Melika Roshandell and SerDes SI/PI engineer Karthik Mahesh Rao explain how the EE and ME can both use the Celsius Thermal Solver to achieve their disparate objectives.

The Great Divide in PCB Simulation Software

07/26/2022 | Zachariah Peterson, NWES
Today’s PCB design engineers have more layout and analysis tools at their disposal than ever before. Over the years we’ve seen layout tools become more automated, rules-driven, and more integrated. Now we even have integration between design tools from different vendors and ranging across domains, starting with basic circuit design, and spanning up to PLM and ERP integration. It really is a great time to be a designer.



Copyright © 2022 I-Connect007. All rights reserved.