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Letter Re: 20,000 Printed Circuit Shops, Worldwide, by 2020
Thursday, December 31, 2009 | Richard Wierzbicki, Electronics Teacher - IPC CIT

Hello Mr. Ray Rasmussen,

After reading your article, 20,000 Printed Circuit Shops, Worldwide, by 2020, my first reaction was to ask, "What will be the educational and skill requirements necessary for employment in the printed electronics technology industry?" and "Are secondary education institutions preparing students to understand and work with emerging technologies?"   

I am an electronics teacher at Curie Metropolitan High School - Chicago Public Schools. I am also an IPC Certified Instructor. Included in the three-year electronics curriculum at Curie Metropolitan High School are two semesters covering electronic assembly manufacturing technology. Students have the opportunity to earn industry-based certification in high-reliability soldering and rework and repair of through-hole and surface mounted technology (SMT) PCBs. Workmanship skills are learned, developed and performed according to the latest IPC-A-610 Class 3 standards.  

Upon successful completion of the training, students are awarded an IPC-7711/7721 Rework and Repair of Electronics Assemblies Certification and a Certified IPC Specialist operator designation. For those students who wish to continue their technical education at a post-secondary level, the acquired knowledge of industry standards in manufacturing would be of significant value in any technical or engineering curriculum.  

The end result of this training is prospective employees with adequate, significant skills and knowledge in electronics assembly--an employer would not need to designate additional resources or funding for basic skills training. However, as much as this training addresses the current needs of today's electronics assembly industry, it does not expose the students to the emerging technologies of the electronics industry they will encounter in the near future.  

To this end, Curie Metropolitan High School and Binghampton University, State University of New York, have been working in conjunction to develop a lesson that would expose secondary school students to nanotechnology and flexible printed electronics.  

Recently, a small group of students from my Advanced Electronics II class engaged in a classroom exercise in which they used manual drafting equipment and vintage quill-style drafting pens to draw nanosilver ink lines onto a PET substrate. After the nanosilver inked lines were sintered, using a digital controlled hot plate, the students measured the resistance and continuity of the flexible printed nanosilver conductors. Another test of continuity was to connect a power supply and a No. 53 incandescent lamp to this flexible printed nanosilver conductor. We were amazed at the amount of current the conductor was able to handle.  

Our plans for future lessons include exercises in which we will bend, stretch and twist a flexible printed conductor to test limits of continuity and the use of low-temperature solder-to-solder SMT LEDs to a pair of parallel flexible printed conductors. We will be developing lessons so that we can introduce this technology to the entire Advanced Electronics II class. The students have an opportunity to be exposed not only to the technology, but also practical applications. 


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