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Development of a Printed Circuit Board Design Laboratory Course

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2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual On line

Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

New ECE Laboratories

Tagged Division

Electrical and Computer

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Paper Authors


Pelin Kurtay George Mason University

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Pelin Kurtay is Associate Professor and Associate Chair of the Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) Department at George Mason University. She currently heads the ECE Department's undergraduate curriculum development efforts and leads other departmental initiatives. She is the recipient of the 2015 Teacher of Distinction Award at George Mason University for exceptional teaching and commitment to teaching-related activities in electrical and computer engineering and Information technology. She is a senior member of the IEEE.

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With the increasing focus on more sophisticated design projects in electrical and computer engineering (ECE) curricula, the number, quality and complexity of projects that students complete by the time they graduate has been growing. Aside from culminating design projects usually completed during their senior year, many undergraduate programs have been incorporating design experiences throughout the curriculum, even starting as early as the freshman year. The emphasis of many institutions on entrepreneurial activities as well as the prevalence of multidisciplinary projects through student clubs have also increased the need for students to rapidly prototype their designs. As many of these activities require the design of electronic printed circuit boards, it has become increasingly important for students to learn about the tools needed to efficiently design printed circuit boards (PCBs). In many ECE curricula, PCB design is expected either to be self-taught as part of the senior design process, is offered as a workshop, or is appended to another course such as circuit design. By specifically teaching PCB design principles through a formal lab course, students are better equipped to implement increasingly complex projects during their curricular experiences. Having learned the basic design principles and tools necessary for PCB design, students also become better positioned to participate in various design competitions through student clubs and other organizations. The lab course developed and described in this paper provides students with an opportunity to gain skills in the fundamental PCB design principles, which they can then use to build more advanced board circuitry as they progress through their curriculum. The course is offered as a full semester distance education offering and hence provides students with the flexibility to complete their weekly lab assignments without the need to physically come to campus each week. The paper provides a comparison of PCB design software and the justifications for adoption of the chosen software tool for the course. Weekly lab experiments and their learning objectives are described, together with their achieved outcomes. The approach used for providing students with soldering training as well as the benefits and challenges of teaching the course online are also included. Experiences gained from offering the course during a full 15-week semester are discussed, and recommendations for potential future offerings are presented.

Kurtay, P. (2020, June), Development of a Printed Circuit Board Design Laboratory Course Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--34451

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