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Introduction of Semiconductor Test Engineering into the BSEE Curriculum

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

Experiential Learning Programs and the Transition to Industry

Tagged Division

College Industry Partnerships

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.965.1 - 22.965.10

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Paper Authors


David Hoe University of Texas, Tyler

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David H. K. Hoe did his undergraduate and graduate studies at the University of Toronto, culminating with a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering in 1991. His professional experience includes positions at General Electric’s Research and Development Center as a Staff Engineer and at the University of Texas, Arlington as a Research Associate and Adjunct Professor. He assumed his present position as an Assistant Professor in the Electrical Engineering Department at the University of Texas, Tyler in August 2008. He teaches classes in Computer Architecture and VLSI Design. His research interests include the areas of reconfigurable computing, analog circuit design, and semiconductor testing.

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Mukul Shirvaikar University of Texas, Tyler

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Dr. Mukul Shirvaikar is the Chair and Professor of Electrical Engineering at the University of Texas, Tyler, where he develops curriculum and laboratories in computer engineering. Prior to this he worked at Texas Instruments specializing in real time imaging systems. Dr. Shirvaikar graduated with his doctorate from the University of Tennessee. He also has a M.S. degree from the University of Maine, and a B.Tech. from Banaras Hindu University, India. His current research interests include real time imaging and engineering education.

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Introduction of Semiconductor Test Engineering into the BSEE CurriculumAs an increasing number of transistors continue to be fabricated on a single integrated circuit(IC) and the functionality per chip becomes more sophisticated, more efficient test methodsusing advanced automated test equipment (ATE) are required. Semiconductor testing is requiredto ensure that a processing defect has not impaired the functionality of a chip and that the designmeets the required performance specifications. Despite the critical importance of the testengineer, relatively few universities have introduced semiconductor testing into their curriculum.Most test engineers report learning their craft through other means, such as on the job throughco-workers to trial and error1. A recent survey of leaders from the semiconductor industryunderscores the desire for more universities to introduce material into their curriculum that moreclosely reflects the practices of industry, such as test program development2.Our university has partnered with SPEA America, a major manufacturer of ATE, to introducetest engineering into the BSEE curriculum. SPEA has donated to our institution a highperformance semiconductor tester (C340MX). Our faculty along and students are workingclosely in a team with SPEA’s application engineers to develop the required hardware (interfaceelectronics and load board), test scripts, and lab material. In particular, the SPEA engineers havebeen quite helpful in suggesting tests that reflect real world test scenarios.Of the few institutions integrating test engineering into the university curriculum, mostimplement it as one or two courses at the senior level3,4. The results of hands-on laboratories andintroduction of real-world examples through the test engineering classes has shown to result in adeeper understanding and longer retention of the material3. Our approach will be to integrate testengineering at all levels of the curriculum instead of just one senior-level class. In the lower levelclasses, the students will be introduced to simple tests. For this fall semester, we plan tointroduce testing of a resistor (Kelvin and non-Kelvin connection) in a linear circuits class andtesting of a counter in an introductory digital circuits class. The spring semester will introduceop-amp testing into an electronics course and A/D converter testing into a signals and systemsclass. A senior level elective is planned to give those students interesting in test engineering amore comprehensive learning experience with our ATE tester.The rationale behind this graduated approach is to introduce the students as soon as possible toreal world test examples so that they can immediately bridge the gap between academic learningand practical applications from industry. This should reinforce the material learned in lecturesand motivate the students as they realize what they are learning has direct relevance in industry.Surveys of students exposed to our proposed integrative test program and comparisons to acontrol group not exposed to the tester will be used to evaluate the effectiveness of the program.This paper will report on the results from the first semester of this program as well as providingdetails of our three year plan to collaborate with SPEA on integrating test engineering into ourundergraduate curriculum.References [1] Ungar, L.Y., “Test engineering education: a guide to a successful curriculum,” IEEE AUTOTESTCON Proceedings, pp.273-283, 2000. [2] Presentation at the Industry and Academia Roundtable, held at Texas A&M University, May 21, 2010. [3] Hudson, T.A. and Copeland, B., “Working with industry to create a test and product engineering course," IEEE International Conference on Microelectronic Systems Education, MSE '09, pp.130-133, 25-27 July 2009. [4] Flottes, M., et al., “Digital, Memory and Mixed-Signal Test Engineering Education: Five Centres of Competence in Europe” Proceedings of the Second IEEE international Workshop on Electronic Design, Test and Applications, January 28 - 30, 2004.

Hoe, D., & Shirvaikar, M. (2011, June), Introduction of Semiconductor Test Engineering into the BSEE Curriculum Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC.

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