Altium Focuses on Design Education


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Altium keeps its eyes on the designers of the future. The company has been working with colleges and universities for years, providing free seats of Altium Designer for the next generation of PCB designers and design engineers. At IPC APEX EXPO 2023, Altium will be providing software for the finalists in the IPC Design Competition just as it did last year. They offer a variety of other educational programs as well, including Upverter classes and a design competition that aims to address environmental change.

Here, Rea Callender, Altium’s VP of education, discusses its educational programs and plans for the week of the show.

Q: You head up your education programs. Tell us about some of the company’s educational efforts.

A: Our mission is to attract talent to the field of electronics design, and equip students with the proper skills so that they can enter the workforce and drive the next generation of technology and innovation to a higher level.

In addition to Upverter Education, our most recent initiative, Altium Education, prepares college students to advance to industry-level printed circuit board design and manufacturing careers. Altium Education offers a free Altium Designer student license and curriculum for college and university students interested in engineering and electronics design. Our courses take students step-by-step from learning the basics of electronics to designing their first printed circuit boards. 

We have taken a unique approach by developing the curriculum needed to teach PCB design and providing free Altium Designer licenses. Educators are using the curriculum to introduce PCB design in multiple ways in universities globally, ranging from a prerequisite for EE courses at the University of Pennsylvania to a standalone PCB design course to be launched by MIT.

Our mission is to provide equal access to all, with specific outreach to women in electronics design to expand the pool of talent. Today, women comprise only 28% of the workforce in STEM fields. To address this concern, we are launching a scholarship program for women enrolled in universities and colleges. The scholarship provides free Altium Professional Training and Altium Designer licenses. Currently, 50 women are enrolled in the pilot program, from countries including Brazil, India, and Pakistan. The first year goal is to provide over $1 million in grants to 175 women students worldwide.

Q: For the second year in a row, you are providing software for the finalists in the IPC Design Competition, while also being involved in the PCBeTheChange Global Design Competition. This contest is co-sponsored by Altium, the IPC Education Foundation, and Ardurino. Tell us about it.

A: Yes, this is our second annual PCB design contest focused on Innovation for Environmental Change. Last year we had an amazing turnout with 87 teams from 17 countries. It was fascinating to see the projects and designs coming from high school and college students from around the world.

We are delighted to support emerging engineers in this way and we are looking forward to an incredible turnout this year as well. We launched the contest in August and competition winners will be announced mid-December.

To read this entire conversation, which appeared in the December 2022 issue of Design007 Magazine, click here.

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