How many times have you tried to tighten a nut with pliers instead of a wrench? How many times have you tried to drive a nail into wood with a wrench handle instead of a hammer? Probably more times than you want to admit. You got the job done, but you wouldn’t want to assemble a car or build a house that way.
Having access to the right equipment is more than half the battle in successfully completing a task. Not having the right equipment means wasted time, much frustration, and—most likely—unsatisfactory results.
This same philosophy applies to your professional work. You must have the right equipment to adequately perform your engineering assignments. Trying to make measurements on a 100-MHz circuit using a 100-MHz scope just won’t provide accurate results.
Having access to the right equipment really starts with the colleges and universities. These institutions must have modern equipment to provide the means to better train tomorrow’s engineers. Acquiring that equipment is no small task, especially since some of today’s high-performance IC testers can easily exceed $1M.
According to a recent news release from Business Wire, Credence Systems, a manufacturer of semiconductor ATE, donated a VLSI test system to Portland State University. The ATE will be used in the university’s new test lab that opened in January. The VLSI test system is the largest capital equipment donation in the university’s history. It will allow students to better evaluate their IC designs, a vast improvement over current pass/fail tests using cumbersome techniques.
With the new equipment, the university will be able to expand its engineering curriculum by providing the capability for more in-depth testing on student designs. More importantly, PSU intends to offer new courses on VLSI test. By focusing on test, the university now can better prepare students for test engineering careers. Allowing students to work on actual production equipment gives them the tools to be successful in industry.
Dr. Graham Siddall, president and CEO of Credence, summed up the importance of what the university is doing. “Because of the intense time-to-market pressures of the semiconductor industry, providing students with more extensive experience in all semiconductor manufacturing functions, including test, is an invaluable service PSU is providing to the industry.”
I’m sure other companies have donated products and services to our colleges and universities, but probably not at this level or for this purpose. The leading ATE companies need to provide more of these large-scale test systems to these institutions. I know they are big-ticket items, but students will receive more in-depth training on these complex IC and board testers so when they graduate they will be better prepared to handle tomorrow’s testing challenges. All test equipment companies stand to reap invaluable rewards by providing these institutions with modern test systems.
Copyright 2000 Nelson Publishing Inc.