PCB Assembly and Fabrication Classes at Michigan Tech

Judy Warner
|  Created: May 28, 2019  |  Updated: February 5, 2021

In this episode we’re filming at Michigan Tech with guest Dr. Chris Middlebrook who teaches a class on Printed Circuit Fabrication. Watch or listen in on our first OnTrack Field Trip as we sit down in Dr. Middlebrook’s lab, where they make circuit boards right on campus. We talk about students, the education program at Michigan Tech and all the hands-on work they do to prepare Electrical Engineers for the real world.

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Show Highlights:

  • Dr. Middlebrook has been a professor at MTU since 2007. At this engineering-focused university, they take a hands-on approach to help create engineers that are well-versed in practical design and implementation.
  • What is MTU doing regarding the shortage of talent in the industry? The resurgence in manufacturing across all sectors calls for students being fully equipped and they strive to equip their students with the necessary skill set to drive the next generation of technology.
  • Several lab spaces enable students to get hands-on with chemical and wet processes as well as prototyping and research, board etching and development. They work in small groups across campus.
  • Calumet is very close to campus, they have been instrumental in the success at MTU, involving their engineers and scientists to get things up and running, they supplied much of the raw materials.
  • Students eagerly sign up to tour the Calumet facility once they have experienced all the processes in class. Student feedback is very positive.
  • Why is there a disconnect from the hands-on side of this work pervasive in most universities? Costs of materials and chemical sets is a primary factor. Not many students are interested in tinkering with things but that mindset is changing.
  • What else can the industry do to support this initiative? Lab sponsorship, one concise, larger facility as a showpiece would make it more practical and create more opportunity for visibility to parents and students.
  • More interaction and mentoring is something students respond to very well.
  • Guest lectures pique student interest and broaden their experience across the spectrum.
  • Topics covered in lectures: From electroplating within PCBs, to solder masks to assembly and multi-layer press to the future of this industry by Happy Holden. 
  • Positive elements of the Millennial culture: They’re very knowledgeable, already know where they are and where they want to be, they do a lot of things before getting to University.


Watch this Special Presentation on Building a Career in the Electronics Industry: 


Links and Resources:

Contact Dr. Middlebrook

Altium Academic Website 


Calumet Electronics


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About Author

About Author

Judy Warner has held a unique variety of roles in the electronics industry for over 25 years. She has a background in PCB Manufacturing, RF and Microwave PCBs and Contract Manufacturing, focusing on Mil/Aero applications. 

She has also been a writer, blogger, and journalist for several industry publications such as Microwave Journal, PCB007 Magazine, PCB Design007, PCD&F, and IEEE Microwave Magazine, and an active board member for PCEA (Printed Circuit Engineering Association). In 2017, Warner joined Altium as the Director of Community Engagement. In addition to hosting the OnTrack Podcast and creating the OnTrack Newsletter, she launched Altium's annual user conference, AltiumLive. Warner's passion is to provide resources, support, and advocate for PCB Design Engineers worldwide.

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