How to Open Course

Thread Starter

Mark Hughes

Joined Jun 14, 2016
409
Sometime in April, a PCB Design course (unaffiliated with AAC) will open that is 100% free to participants. 50 students will get a free course, free parts, free PCB, free assembly. Everything is covered by sponsor companies. The question becomes how to select the students for the course, as I anticipate more than 50 people signing up.

Thought 1) All of the sponsors of the course send out marketing blasts at the same time to all of their recipients -- signups are on a first-come-first-served basis.
Thought 2) Signups are open for a two week period, participants are selected by lottery.
Thought 3) A Meritocracy -- participants are somehow selected based on their likelihood to continue their study beyond this first project (don't ask me how, I have no idea)
Thought 4) Some combination of 2 and 3.

There is a plan in place to "wait-list" a dozen or so participants as well -- these people would be able to take the course and would replace any students who fell significantly behind.

Does anyone have any thoughts about how to select participants? I'm open to suggestions.
 

jpanhalt

Joined Jan 18, 2008
9,127
I would go for a lottery:
1) Why make it hard for the deciders?
2) Less dependent on when someone got the notice. Do try to coordinate the notices.
3) An application window of 2 weeks sounds about right.
4) You may want to consider a minimum age (some documentation required).

As for varieties of meritocracy, what "merits" would count positively? Someone who had done design for 10 years? Maybe they should be excluded rather than included. Also, anytime you have something based on merit and an individual's submission, how will you verify?
 

AlbertHall

Joined Jun 4, 2014
9,666
I would go for a lottery:
1) Why make it hard for the deciders?
2) Less dependent on when someone got the notice. Do try to coordinate the notices.
3) An application window of 2 weeks sounds about right.
4) You may want to consider a minimum age (some documentation required).

As for varieties of meritocracy, what "merits" would count positively? Someone who had done design for 10 years? Maybe they should be excluded rather than included. Also, anytime you have something based on merit and an individual's submission, how will you verify?
Agree.
 

Alec_t

Joined Sep 17, 2013
11,164
What is the real aim of the course? Is it purely philanthropic/educational? Are the sponsors hoping to recruit trainees? Are the sponsors hoping to boost sales of the products used in the course? Is it aimed at a particular demographic?
I think the aim will have some bearing on how students should be selected.
 

MisterBill2

Joined Jan 23, 2018
5,803
NOTHING IS REALLY FREE. If the goal is to start selling a circuit board design class, then aiming at folks who would tell others makes the most sense. If the goal is to teach folks how to use the design software to create designs produced by one board company, that is different. I have a free PCB design program that is really hard to use, I have no idea if it is compatible with other board manufacturers. It was free for a while but now costs a few hundred dollars, cheap for what it is, but no longer free.
So my suggestion is to charge a bit for it to assure that those who sign up really want to learn. There are lots of folks who will grab anything that is free. So charge the first 50 folks ten percent of the intended sell price, they will get a good deal and you will get 50 students who are serious about learning.
 

Thread Starter

Mark Hughes

Joined Jun 14, 2016
409
Thanks for the replies so far everyone. As with all "free" things, if you can't figure out what is being sold, then the answer is user data. In this case the sponsors want to identify the stumbling blocks and barriers to entry for rigid and rigid flex PCB design. I convinced them we needed a rigid course to work the kinks out before moving to rigid flex.

The course is designed to be software agnostic. You should be able to tske.the course and use Altuum, Diptrace, Eagle, etc... the two instructors will be using different tools.

It's a fixed schematic design, and while the sponsor companies all have products / services to sell, they arent selling inside the course. At best they will be impressioning users with logos.

But what are the merits that unlock entry.......that's something to think about. Thanks all!
 

MisterBill2

Joined Jan 23, 2018
5,803
I suggested selling the course at a discount, and that would certainly separate those who would intend to use the learning from those who were just curious or just wanted to grab free stuff. Only those with money to spend buy products is a fairly universal truth, and that applies here as well. I would have been happy to pay $25 for a course teaching me how to use the Eagle PCB software. I have designed lots of boards, but using AutoCad delivers a layout that must be translated, adding to the expense, and limiting the number of suppliers who can work with it. Now I work with others who are able to create useful artwork from my cad designs, but their service is not free. OH WELL.
 

MaxHeadRoom

Joined Jul 18, 2013
20,461
I have transitioned from an older version of OrCad but for the last few years have used KiCad and find it up to the task that OrCad did, at least for the projects I have produced.
It is also professionally produced and backed, together with a forum aimed at assistance.
Not at all bad for a free product!. :cool:

In 2008, CERN (The European Organization for Nuclear Research) got involved with KiCad.
They provided 2 more developers (which brought up to to 5 developers working on KiCad) and things started moving along much faster.
Max.
 
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