Reading time ( words)
AURORA, Colo. — North American university students are using Advanced Circuits' FreeDFM for school projects. Professors at several engineering schools are requiring students to upload Gerber files to the FreeDFM.com service to help with design flaws and to check on manufacturability. FreeDFM checks to make certain that all files and data are in place before building a PCB. Advanced Circuits' Engineering Student Program (ESP) offers these students its FreeDFM service at no cost. Students can also buy a full-spec, two-layer PCB at a reduced price.
Student aid at the company comes in many formats. "We target helping engineering students," says Susan Israel, marketing manager. "We sponsor part of their projects, offering some circuit boards to get them started and a discount after a certain number. We even supply them with a 2-liter soda and a pizza." At the Website, www.4pcb.com/students, the details of the exclusive ESP program for students can be found. Besides the FreeDFM service, the company also helps with stencils and software. Most colleges require a 2-layer board, others require a multilayer approach, and the company offers discounts for both. "The U.S. is falling behind in supplying trained engineers and we want to encourage growth and interest in engineering," adds Israel.
"It's a good investment in students and in our country's future," adds Larry McQuinn, vice president of sales and marketing. Most of the advertising for this program is done through word of mouth. Students tour the company regularly to see how boards are built. A 24-hour tech support comes in handy for the "odd" hours sometimes needed for student deadlines. "We need to be open because board shops may run all night," says McQuinn. Answering a student's question at any time is exactly like the work environment, where support may be needed at unpredictable times. When a student can get a report back on the boards they've created through using FreeDFM, it's like getting a paper checked before turning it in for a grade. The accuracy level goes up.
Advanced Circuits is a quick-turn PCB manufacturer that specializes in producing engineering prototypes and production boards. For more information on their student-friendly services, please call (800) 979-4PCB.
–Gail Flower, Editor-in-Chief