Next-Gen: Students Act as Environmental Agents of Change
Student Competition Profile: PCBeTheChange Design Competition
April 27, 2022
The PCBeTheChange design competition is the first student design competition launched by Upverter Education, an Altium division, in partnership with the IPC Education Foundation and Arduino, an open-source hardware and software company. These organizations saw a need to provide an annual competitive space for young innovators around the world to share ideas, showcase their knowledge and talent, and demonstrate excellence.
High school and college/university student teams were challenged to create science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) solutions to environmental problems with Altium’s Upverter Modular PCB design software and Arduino Portenta H7 hardware.
Entries were received from over 17 countries including the U.S., Afghanistan, India, Australia, Greece, France and Guatemala. All student teams submitted projects detailing viable solutions to environmental concerns with the creative and clever use of the Upverter and Arduino tools.
This left judges with the difficult task to narrow submissions down to the best and most innovative. Winners were chosen based on their solution’s impact and relevance to the community.
Rea Callender is the vice president for education at Upverter Education—a division of Altium. We spoke to Rea to learn more about the competition. Here’s how our conversation went:
Digital Engineering: Can you provide an overview of the PCBeTheChange Student Design 2021 competition, how it came to be and the intent of the program? Who will be participating or who has participated? How many participants have you had or are you expecting? Do you have any demographics of participants?
Rea Callender: Upverter Education, a division of Altium, the IPC Education Foundation and Arduino Education partnered to create the first student design competition dubbed “The PCBeTheChange Student Design Competition 2021” to engage, educate and enhance students’ proficiencies in printed circuit board (PCB) design, with a focus on solving some of the world’s most pressing environmental challenges.
We opted to launch this contest because our goal at Altium is to support the next generation of electronics designers by giving them access to free curriculum and professional tools.
Teams from high schools and colleges will be using Altium’s Upverter Modular PCB design software and the Arduino Portenta H7 to create a prototype design that will improve the environment.
We had a total of 88 teams that registered for the contest from 17 different countries—including the U.S., India, Australia, Greece, France and Guatemala, South Africa and Indonesia to name a few!
DE: Can you tell us about some of the designs that are part of the event and how they came to be?
Callender: We are in the submission phase of the competition and have limited information as we are still in the judging phase. Designs and finished products will be displayed at the IPC Design Booth at the IPC APEX EXPO Event.
DE: Can you provide some examples of what the event has produced or what you expect it to produce?
Callender: Teams must address challenges that impact their communities. We expect to receive design submissions that answer or hope to resolve the environmental issue plaguing the community of each registrant’s area, that is, smoke/pollution, water contamination, soil erosion, et cetera, among others.
DE: Does Upverter Education have a particular stance on adopting an innovation that is linked to the program? What drove them to sponsor the event and coordinate it?
Callender: Upverter Education is committed to eliminating existing barriers in STEM education, opening opportunities for students to design and create their own electronic products. Originally launched in September 2020, the Upverter Education program has been adopted across the globe in over 50 countries.
To develop the program, Altium partnered with the educational community, developing courses in PCB design that can be tailored to any teacher’s needs. Teachers can implement the entire free PCB design course over 6 weeks, or isolate individual units as needed to supplement existing lecture plans. This flexible, module style approach has been adopted quickly and broadly among our educational partners.
Upverter Education opted to partner with IPCEF and Arduino Education to launch this first student design competition to encourage more students to follow their passion and create a PCB using Upverter Education’s free curriculum and tools that are available to them online.