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Unique Master Course for Highly Demanded Specialists in the Field of IC Design and Test Starts in Winter Semester 2024/25

TU Chemnitz offers new Master course „Design and Test for Integrated Circuits“ to educate scientists for semiconductor industry

It was spectacular when the Taiwanese semiconductor giant TSMC announced the construction of a semiconductor fabrication unit in Dresden in the so-called “Silicon Saxony” creating around 2,000 new jobs in 2023. In addition, established companies in the region, including Infineon, ELMOS and ‘Rohde & Schwarz’, continually show a high demand for engineers in the field of microelectronics. Test engineers play an essential role to check that the chips from the companies work properly and can be installed in smartphones, screens or electric vehicles. This is where the new English-language master's degree program “Design and Test for Integrated Circuits” comes into play, which can be studied at the Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Information Technology at the Chemnitz University of Technology (TUC) from winter semester 2024/25 onwards.

The chair for Circuit and System Design organizes this unique course: "This new degree program is unique in Germany. Other universities offer IC design in existing courses but we cover the whole chain from design via manufacturing assistance up to the test of integrated circuits completely,” says course director Prof. Dr. Ulrich Heinkel. The laboratories of the chair include two industrial level production test machines from ADVANTEST to offer best learning conditions for the students. The labs allow complete test runs for ICs. Furthermore the cleanroom facilities and special equipment at the Center of Microtechnologies and the Smart Systems Campus including Fraunhofer ENAS are available for students to work.

Highly demanded skilled employees for chip manufacturing from Chemnitz

Test engineers are highly specialized participants in the chip manufacturing process. They check intermediate and final products for correctness and give feedback to the production process control. Tiny faults in production might have catastrophic effects as the electronic product will not work anymore. This test process must run in parallel to the production. So it is essential to integrate test structures into the chips already in the design phase. Better and faster test programs and structures lead to more efficiency in the production process.

To enable a hands-on course the chair Circuit and System Design modified a lab room for industrial test equipment. It also contains the automated test machines. This allows to practice all phases of chip test. Matthias Sauppe, member of the chair Circuit and System Design says: “Our students learn (in addition to the chip design) how to write test programs which check all functions of a chip. Furthermore we teach how to test chips under time pressure. Test time is valuable and future test engineers must be experts in how to optimize those tests in real production processes as the manufacturing process cannot be simply stopped.”

(Translation: Professorship of Circuit and System Design)

Mario Steinebach

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