Altium Empowers High School STEM Teachers with Virtual Electronic Design Curriculum, Tools


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In September 2020, Altium LLC, the leading printed circuit board (PCB) software company, launched Upverter Education, a free distance learning initiative to support STEM educators. 

“Upverter Education has the opportunity to help high school STEM teachers transition into the virtual classroom. Our goal is to support the next generation of electronics designers of all economic levels by giving them access to free curriculum and professional tools today to prepare them for their innovative careers in the future,” explains Rea Callender, Executive Director of Upverter Education. 

The Upverter Education initiative provides the curriculum and resources to guide users through the design, prototyping and manufacturing of electronics engineering concluding with the delivery of students hardware designs. Teachers can utilize the materials to supplement their existing lesson plans, either as standalone units or as a full, 4-6 week educational program.

The program centers around Altium’s Upverter, a free, web-based PCB design tool that’s easy to use in the distance-learning classroom. Upverter’s collaborative and remote capabilities align perfectly with the needs of STEM educators for guiding students through the electronics design process and their exploration of technology and engineering.

Since the launch, the Upverter Education team has formed strategic partnerships with schools around the country and collaborations with leaders in engineering education, including the American Society for Engineering Education, TRYEngineering, First Robotics, and NASA’s Robotics Alliance Project. 

Schools within Elk Grove Unified, one of California’s largest school districts, have adopted the Upverter Education program, as well as the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics (NCSSM), a two-year public residential high school in Durham, NC.

Marshall Massengill, robotics mentor and alumnus of NCSSM, explains how Upverter has been helping him promote remote learning statewide. “Currently with Covid-19, most of our students are spread throughout the state rather than living on campus. Upverter’s collaborative nature is helping transform the team and keep on working, just as we would normally in the lab.” The Upverter Teachers Guide provides step by step instructions for teachers to launch the program.

For Michael Rosales, Engineering and Science teacher at Elk Grove Unified Florin High School, Altium’s education program is already changing the way he teaches Principles of Engineering. “This is perfect for my class already--it allows the kids to look at virtual circuits before they create physical ones, and you can have multiple people working on one circuit together,” Rosales reports.

Educators are currently using the program to teach robotics, engineering, digital electronics design, principles of engineering and STEM intro classes. The Upverter Education team is also supporting high school students working on proposals for NASA’s CubeSat Launch Initiative program, extending the use of Upverter for small satellite payloads.

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