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A Microelectronics Curriculum Designed With Industry Input And Project Based Laboratories

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1998 Annual Conference


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 28, 1998

Start Date

June 28, 1998

End Date

July 1, 1998



Page Count


Page Numbers

3.23.1 - 3.23.7

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Jennifer T. Ross

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 1526

A Microelectronics Curriculum Designed with Industry Input and Project- Based Laboratories

Jennifer T. Ross Electrical and Computer Engineering Department University of the Pacific

1. Introduction

With the changes in the ABET 2000 criteria, universities have considerably more freedom in defining “sufficient” coverage in their curricula. With this freedom comes uncertainty in finding the right mix between depth and breadth for the fast paced microelectronics field. Another issue in preparing students for this field is not only the course content but the work environment they will encounter which involves team projects, technical reporting, problem solving, and massive information processing skills. This paper summarizes two NSF projects geared at these problems. First, a summary from industry partners defining sufficient breadth and depth for undergraduates in the area of microelectronics. Second the development of a new microelectronics laboratory conducted in a "simulated corporate environment", which is designed to prepare students for the environment they will encounter in the workplace in addition to teaching the course material. The new microelectronics laboratory involves the integration of software, measurement tools, and project-based learning. "Project-chips" were developed which reinforce course material, while maintaining the illusion of company products. Students work with the theory, simulation and actual measurements for all major concepts. This paper reports on the industrial panel's input, the course format, the integration of software and measurement tools, the "Project-chips", and how the façade of corporate life is emulated in the classroom. This project was made possible through funding from a Hewlett Packard Education Grant and two NSF grants. An Instrument and Laboratory Improvement (ILI) Grant provided much of the software and equipment for this project, and a Course and Curriculum Development (CCD) grant helped shape the content of the microelectronics curriculum through forming the industrial panel and creating the "Project-chips".

2. Breadth versus Depth

To find the appropriate mix between engineering fundamentals and current technology a panel was formed consisting of engineers from companies related to the integrated circuit industry including: Intel, Advanced Micro Devices, National Semiconductor, Motorola, Hewlett Packard, Digital Equipment Corporation, Silicon Graphics, Altera, Cadence Laboratories, and Mentor Graphics. The panel was designed to incorporate engineers at different stages in their careers and in different areas of the IC industry[1]. The panel was formed as part of a the CCD Grant entitled "Teaching Integrated Circuit Design in a Simulated Corporate Environment". This project included developing material for an undergraduate VLSI design course with a heavy professional component emphasizing team work, communication, presentations, and project based learning [2,3,11]. During the day-long workshop industrial representatives first defined their ideal engineer and then moved on to identify the skills and knowledge base critical to the microelectronics area.

Ross, J. T. (1998, June), A Microelectronics Curriculum Designed With Industry Input And Project Based Laboratories Paper presented at 1998 Annual Conference, Seattle, Washington.

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