Development of Electronics Manufacturing Engineering Final Report

Keywords: ECE214, Electronics Manufacturing

Date: May 30, 1995

Principal Investigator:

Keith R. Carver(

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 electronics manufacturing.

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 stages:
  1. 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:

    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.

  2. 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 very enthusiastic.

  3. 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.

  4. 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 Interconnect Program.

    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.

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.

Q3: I found Professor Scott's handout note on electronics manufacturing to be a helpful background to the field trip and Dr. Zimmerman's presentation.

Q4: Dr. Zimmerman's presentation on May 3, 1995 did not increase my interest in electronics manufacturing techniques and packaging methods.

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 manufacturing.

Q6: The videotape on electronics manufacturing increased my interest in pursuing a career in this area of electrical and computer engineering.

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 comments:

Where Do We Go From Here?

On the basis of this initial experiment, I recommend the following short-term steps:
  1. The electronics manufacturing material in ECE 214 should be continued during the Spring'96 semester at UMass Amherst.
  2. During the next year, 2 field trips should be planned, with much more interaction of in-plant manufacturing engineers with the visiting students.
  3. 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.
A similar approach should be tried by other EASNE EE/ECE departments for a suitable sophomore core course.

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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