Power Electronics

Let's Educate Analog Circuit Designers

ENGINEERS IN SCOTLAND APPEAR TO BELIEVE that analog design skills are an endangered species, evidenced by the recently launched Analog Skills Initiative (ASI) being delivered by the Institute for System Level Integration (ISLI) and the University of Edinburgh. While the Initiative is a Scottish Enterprise program to promote and support analog and mixed-signal design in Scotland, engineers around the world could probably benefit.

The goals of this initiative are to:

  • Raise the awareness of analog design as a career opportunity for undergraduates
  • Develop course materials to help new graduates with the transition from college to work
  • Focus professional development activities for analog design engineers

Developed by the University of Edinburgh (UoE) with support from companies such as Analog Devices and Wolfson Microelectronics, the main training mechanism is via an associated IC and pc board that enables designers to design, build, and perform measurements on analog circuits. The new offering targets recently graduated designers, those seeking to move from another area into analog electronics, and technician skills development in the electronics industry.

The new analog training device developed under the Analog Skills Initiative has the potential to revolutionize analog courses as we know them. To address the shortage of engineers with analog electronics design skills, this new training tool intends to inspire and enthuse a new generation of analog designers.

The chip and board teaching tools show designers what can be achieved through hands-on analog electronics experimentation, making study refreshing and more engaging. The latest generation of the teaching board offers advanced features, including a built-in microcontroller, display screen, and signal generator, enabling work to be carried out on the chip while viewing how it interacts with digital circuitry in a fully mixed-signal environment.

Trials of the new IC and PCB have been enormously successful, proving that the new teaching tool develops problem-solving skills and makes analog studies more appealing. For two years, the teaching devices have been used by more than 80 students and several demonstrators in the analog curriculum at UoE.

Enthusiasm for the new chip and board has helped uptake of the analog courses reach an all-time high. There were no absences, the uptake on analog courses was significantly improved, and students even worked overtime in their analog studies.

As I previously stated, this sounds like something that could benefit engineers around the world. Do you think so? Should a similar analog design education system be available in the U.S.?

The ISLI will also be featuring the new analog training tool in their Analog and Mixed-Signal Design module that will be delivered as part of their M.S. degree program in System Level Integration. An M.S. is available on a full-time, part-time, or distance-learning basis and will appeal to both graduates and experienced design engineers wishing to update their knowledge and skill set.

For further information on the course, please contact the M.S. program manager at 0-11-44 1506 469300 or email [email protected]. A flyer containing more information about the Analog Training tool can be downloaded from the Analog Skills Initiative website; http://www.sli-institute.ac.uk/business-services/analog-skills.

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