The ABET criterion, recognition for and the ability to engage in life-long learning, is one of the most important, given that we as engineering educators can not teach every concept that students will encounter over the span of a 20-40 year career as an engineer. We believe that one method to teach and verify this critical skill in the area of Integrated Circuit (IC) design, is to have the students learn IC CAD tools by following well crafted tutorials and then complete open-ended IC design projects in an open lab. The project is supposed to be a full custom design of a digital circuit, with logical, timing and layout specifications using standard CMOS circuits in a .5μm CMOS process (AMI06). The frequency of operation for the circuit is supposed to be 200MHz, and the power density below 23C/cm2 to avoid the use of active cooling.Our lab environment consists of 40 UNIX workstations with Cadence Design Systems Virtuoso IC CAD software using the NCSU MOSIS1 design kit. Students can come to lab or remotely log in at their convenience. No formal lab hours or TA/professors are on hand during a formal lab section. There are three full custom IC design courses that follow this model.An additional advantage of requiring students to learning the CAD tools and completing open-ended IC design projects in an open lab environment is that this kind of environment mimics an industrial setting. Students who have taken our course, who are now working in industry, all state that the course environment closely matches that of their work environment.
David Parent. "Using open-ended design projects in an open lab to teach lifelong learning skills in an IC design course" ASEE Annual Conference (2004): 9.1383.1-9.1383.4.