Altium Education Brings Free PCB Design Courses to Students

March 22, 2022 by Arjun Nijhawan

Altium Education guides college students from the basics of PCB design through developing their first printed circuit board.

There are a variety of computer-based tools to create PCBs from Cadence Allegro to Altium Designer. These tools are packed with functionality and can be intimidating for a greenhorn PCB designer. Recently, Altium announced a new set of online learning modules called Altium Education targeting students and those new to the field of PCB design.


Overview of units in the Altium Education PCB design course

Overview of units in the Altium Education PCB design course. 


According to Altium, Altium Education is a free collection of university courses, licenses, and software designed to help students access professional engineering education and tools online. 


PCB Design Is A Multi-Stage Process 

Designing a printed circuit board (PCB) can be a complex endeavor. First, circuit designers must understand the functionality and purpose of the board. Second, they must create an electrical schematic to define all of the connections and components needed. This step is called schematic capture.

Next, the schematic is turned into a printed circuit board through layout and routing. This involves placing components and electrical traces (pathways for current to flow) in a logical way on a substrate to ensure the circuit works properly while minimizing unwanted effects such as crosstalk.

Finally, the board is sent for manufacturing. Altium Education is designed to help new or prospective designers build a solid understanding of these four steps, which is essential to building a functional and reliable PCB.


Video tutorials walk students through the PCB design process

Video tutorials walk students through the PCB design process.

Altium Education Consolidates PCB Design Training For Students 

A typical course in Altium Education is made up of smaller blocks known as units. A unit consists of a set of lectures in both video and text format to introduce students to a particular concept. As the unit progresses, the topics become more advanced. 


Breakdown of the first unit of Altium Education, an introduction to PCB design

Breakdown of the first unit of Altium Education, an introduction to PCB design. 

By following the content in the units, the student can follow along in Altium Designer and learn basic PCB design concepts ranging from schematic capture to layout, routing, and basic signal integrity. For example, because inductive and capacitive coupling in a PCB can cause crosstalk, it is critical to understand signal integrity concepts to route traces in an optimal way. 

Altium Education provides free access to a license for those with a valid university email address. Users can renew their licenses every six months. The program allows users to use Altium Designer, an industry-grade schematic capture and layout tool with over 200,000 electronic components and design templates.


PCB Design Software Plays An Essential Role In The 21st Century 

According to Coherent Market Insights, as of 2021, the PCB design software market is valued at over two billion dollars. Together, the course curriculum and free Altium Designer license provide students with a self-paced way to learn the fundamentals of PCB design. As the complexity and speed requirements of modern PCBs increase year by year, understanding the tools and techniques behind PCB design will likely be more important than ever. 



All images used courtesy of Altium.

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