Development of Electronics Manufacturing Engineering Final Report
Keywords: ECE214, Electronics Manufacturing
Date: May 30, 1995
Keith R. Carver(email@example.com)
Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering
University of Massachusetts at Amherst
This report summarizes the EASNE project to introduce concepts of
electronics manufacturing engineering into a required sophomore course on
digital electronics (ECE 214) at UMass Amherst. Another goal of this
project was to determine if our educational methodology could be used by
other EASNE EE/ECE departments. This educational experiment was conducted
during the Spring 1995 semester offering of ECE 214, with 65 students
enrolled in two sections. This is a core engineering science course in
digital switching devices (diodes, BJTs, FETs, MOSFETs, etc. The new
material on electronics manufacturing was introduced in early May 1995,
near the end of the semester. It consisted of four components: (a) an
extensive specially-prepared set of handout notes on electronics
manufacturing, (b) a one-day field trip to the AT&T Merrimack Valley
electronics manufacturing facility in North Andover, Massachusetts, (c) an
in-class lecture on electronics manufacturing given by an AT&T
manufacturing engineer, and (d) a videotaped lecture on advanced
electronics packaging by Dennis Herrell, Vice-President of MCC's
Semiconductor Packaging and Interconnect Program.
At the end of the semester, a formal survey was conducted of student
reactions to the new material on electronics manufacturing. The overall
reaction was quite positive, especially to the AT&T field trip and to the
in-class lecture by a manufacturing expert.
Efficient electronics manufacturing processes and techniques are critically
important to competitiveness for US companies who manufacture electronics
products, and it is crucial that graduating electrical and computer
engineers understand that the design of competitive electronics products
must also consider the manufacturing processes involved. Unfortunately,
very few EE/ECE programs in the US have incorporated any consideration of
electronics manufacturing processes in their undergraduate curricula. This
has certainly been true of the ECE curriculum at UMass Amherst and probably
at most of the other EE/ECE programs within the EASNE institutions.
Unfortunately the typical four-year undergraduate EE/ECE curriculum is
already crowded with crucially important topics in electrical engineering
including analog electronics circuits and systems, digital circuits and
systems, signal analysis, microprocessors, electromagnetics, digital signal
processing, etc. In our undergraduate ECE program at UMass Amherst, we
found there was very little room in the sophomore year for introducing
manufacturing concepts without seriously compromising the rigor of our core
courses in circuit analysis and design, and in digital electronics devices.
We identified the required sophomore course ECE 214 (Digital Electronics)
as the best place to introduce some introductory material on electronics
manufacturing. This is of course an enormous field, one that could
certainly generate several semester-long courses on individual topics and
techniques such as packaging, interconnects, surface mount technology, etc.
We decided to simply provide our students with a few snapshots of typical
modern electronics manufacturing topics and techniques, near the end of
the Spring'95 semester.
As our faculty have very limited experience in electronics manufacturing,
we decided to enlist the help of industry friends in setting up field
trips, in-class lectures, etc. As it turned out in the end, we settled on
one field trip to the AT&T Merrimack Valley facility in North Andover,
Mass., and on one in-class lecture by an AT&T engineer who is expert in
Objectives of the Project
The curricular objective of this project was to introduce concepts of
electronics manufacturing and processes into a typical sophomore-level core
course in electrical engineering, and to use this to stimulate student
interest in the field of electronics manufacturing. A further objective of
the project is to share the findings of this very limited educational
experiment with EE/ECE departments of other EASNE institutions.
Our approach was to introduce material on electronics manufacturing in four
- Handout Notes. Under EASNE sponsorship, Professor Don Scott
compiled an extensive set of handout notes on electronics manufacturing
during the summer of 1994, to be distributed to ECE 214 students during the
Spring'95 semester. These notes were extracted from a number of books and
publications on the subject, and were intended to give students a general
framework of electronics manufacturing. The general topics included in
these notes are:
- Brief History of Circuit Fabrication Methods
- Forces Driving Modern Manufacturing (reliability, speed, size, cost)
- Printed Circuit Boards (manufacturing processes)
- Integrated Circuits (manufacturing processes)
- Thick and Thin Film Technology
- Hybrid Circuits
- Surface Mount Devices
- Multi-Chip Modules
Although these notes were suitable as an outline students, there are some
proprietary issues that must be resolved before they can be distributed to
other EASNE institutions.
- Field Trip. On May 4, 1995 we transported 59 ECE 214 students
to the electronics manufacturing facility at AT&T Merrimack Valley
operations in North Andover, Massachusetts. This is a huge facility,
comprising more than 2 million square feet. This facility manufactures
electronic components and systems for use in AT&T products. The trip was
arranged through our contacts with AT&T Bell Labs engineers and was hosted
by Jane Kinsella, Associate Manager of the Customer Conference Center.
During the day-long tour, ECE students were briefed on AT&T manufacturing
processes such as surface mount technology (SMT), automated electronics
assembly processes (the VISION line), and other aspects of electronics
product development and manufacturing. The students were accompanied by
Professor Leonard Bobrow, the instructor for ECE 214 and Professor Don
Scott, who has taught this course in the past.
As discussed further below, overall student reaction to this field trip was
- Manufacturing Expert in the Classroom. On May 3, ECE 214
students were treated to a very interesting lecture by Dr. Michael
Zimmerman, who is an electronics manufacturing engineer and expert at AT&T
Merrimack Valley. Dr. Zimmerman gave an overview of the processes used in
the manufacture of multi-chip modules (MCMs), and brought along several
samples of MCMs showing stages of the process ranging from a pure silicon
wafer to the final packaged MCM chips.
Student reaction to this in-class lecture was also very positive, as
discussed in the evaluation section below.
We had hoped to set up even more in-class lectures by industry experts, but
there was little time available at the end of the semester and we were
unable to make arrangements for lectures by industry experts from other
Massachusetts electronics companies such as DEC, Raytheon, GTE, etc.
- Videotape on Electronics Manufacturing. The last class day was
devoted to showing a professionally prepared videotape on Advanced Chip
Packaging. The speaker on this 52-minute tape was Dennis Herrell,
Vice-President and Program Direction of MCC's Semiconductor Packaging and
Student reaction to this videotape was mixed, as discussed further below.
Evaluation of Results
In order to evaluate the results of this educational experiment, we created
a questionnaire for ECE 214 students to give us their feedback and
suggestions. A copy of this questionnaire and a Memorandum summarizing the
results is attached to this report.
Students were first asked to respond to six questions on a scale of 1 - 5
(1 = strongly disagree, 2 = disagree to some extent, 3 = undecided, 4 =
agree to some extent, 5 = strongly agree). They were then asked to provide
general comments about the new material on electronics manufacturing. 42
students responded to the questionnaire.
Q1: I found the field trip to AT&T worthwhile and it stimulated
some interest in electronics manufacturing.
- Over three-fourths of the class either strongly agreed or agreed to some extent.
Q2: It would be a waste of time for future ECE classes to take a
similar field trip to an electronics manufacturing facility such as AT&T.
- Over 80% of the respondents either strongly disagreed or
disagreed to some extent with this statement.
Q3: I found Professor Scott's handout note on electronics
manufacturing to be a helpful background to the field trip and Dr.
- Two-thirds of the students either strongly agreed or
agreed to some extent with this statement. They obviously felt that these
were helpful background notes.
Q4: Dr. Zimmerman's presentation on May 3, 1995 did not increase
my interest in electronics manufacturing techniques and packaging methods.
- Two-thirds of the respondents either strongly disagreed
or disagreed to some extent with this statement.
Q5: Dr. Zimmerman's presentation was a worthwhile additional
lecture in ECE 214, and I would recommend that future ECE 214 classes
include one or two lectures from industry engineers on electronics product
- Almost 80% of the respondents strongly agreed or agreed
to some extent with this statement.
Q6: The videotape on electronics manufacturing increased my
interest in pursuing a career in this area of electrical and computer
- As seen in the graphical responses in the attachment,
the class had decidedly mixed feelings about the efficacy of this video.
The video may have been too technologically advanced to attract their
interest and it also may have been too long.
The individual comments supplied by the respondents indicated that
they were very enthusiastic about the field trip, although they would like
to interact more with industry engineers during their tour. Sample
- " I found the manufacturing lectures and the field trip very
interesting; am not pursuing a summer position with a manufacturing
facility to learn more about the manufacturing process."
- " The field trip to AT&T was perhaps the most reassuring event in
my student career that I was on the right track for my life."
- " Field trip to AT&T was excellent! Professor Scott's notes on
electronics manufacturing were superb; strongly recommend future emphasis
on such material.
- " It would have been nice to see some of the engineers at AT&T and
what they do."
Where Do We Go From Here?
On the basis of this initial experiment, I recommend the following
A similar approach should be tried by other EASNE EE/ECE
departments for a suitable sophomore core course.
- The electronics manufacturing material in ECE 214 should be
continued during the Spring'96 semester at UMass Amherst.
- During the next year, 2 field trips should be planned, with
much more interaction of in-plant manufacturing engineers with the visiting
- The number of ECE 214 in-class lectures by industry expert
engineers should be extended to 3 or 4; however, it is critical that these
lecturers be carefully selected for their ability to really teach our
students. There is a significant risk that some industry engineer
lecturers could talk over the heads of the students, or make excessive use
of in-plant acronyms and lingo that would be meaningless to the students.
I also recommend that other more extensive approaches to electronics
manufacturing education be examined by the EASNE EE/ECE departmental
curriculum committees. In particular, the new program in this area
instituted by the EE Department at the University of Arkansas is quite
extensive, has received good federal and industry funding, and is a
successful model worth examining.
We have had reasonably good success in meeting our first goal, e.g. a
modest introduction of electronics manufacturing concepts into a core
sophomore course at UMass Amherst. Student reaction to this educational
experiment has been quite positive, and we hope to continue and expand this
during the coming year, discussed above.
We have not yet met our second goal, i.e. to make this material portable to
other EASNE institutions. At this writing, we have just now completed the
semester and have just begun to discuss the results of the evaluation
questionnaire and what our next moves should be. We now need to meet with
other EASNE EE/ECE departmental representatives, and share these results of
this first limited experiment.
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