In 2007, after thorough assessment procedure, the Department of Microelectronic Systems was invited to Cadence Academic Network. Enrollment into the program opened opportunities for introduction of courses for the students based on state-of-the-art software solutions developed by the company.
It became normal that the software related companies, such as Microsoft, have been offering their certification programs and those certifications were well regarded by the students as well as the faculty authorities. As the use of Cadence tools was common at Department of Microelectronic Systems, it was natural to ask Cadence to establish the certified lab at Gdansk University of Technology. The Cadence Academic Network team responded with great interest to this request, proposing the rules of the certification for the Cadence Certified Lab. The main requirement of a certified lab program is the possession of reasonably modern computers (minimal requirements data for processor, RAM, disk and the monitor have been specified) with the selected Linux distribution. The suite of Cadence tools in their most recent version available in Europractice distribution must be installed and maintained. The last requirement is that the university staff takes the courses on Cadence's tools. There is no particular limitation for the number of professors taking part in the program, as Cadence concentrates on certifying the Lab itself and not the specific professors. At Department of Microelectronic Systems the courses have been distributed to different people according to their needs and competences: four professors have been involved in this process; they took in total about 40 courses.
The certificate is awarded for a year. Cadence Certified Lab program rules require a renewal of the certificate every year. Renewing involves such activities as updating the software in the laboratory and taking supplementary courses. Usually, there is a need to take several courses on the existing tools and a few courses on new tools that have appeared in new versions of the software. While the need to take courses on new tools seems understandable, one may be surprised to have to repeat courses on the same tools every year. However, it is found that every year the tools are greatly improved and many new functions appear in them, so repeating the same courses is really justified. After completing the courses and updating the software, a new certificate is obtained.
Cooperation with Cadence brought many benefits to Department of Microelectronic Systems. Over 50 publications were written based on the circuits and systems designed using Cadence software, and also over 20 Master's theses.
Currently, regular university courses for students are conducted, where the students are taught integrated circuit design in the following undergraduate courses: Engineering of Integrated Circuits and Systems (5th semester, approx. 60 students), Design of ASIC (7th semester, approx. 15 students) and graduate courses: Continuous-Time Integrated Filters (1st semester, approx. 15 students) and Integrated Circuits Design for Wireless Communication (2nd semester, approx. 10 students). The certified laboratory is also used by the Student Science Club.
More details: M. Wójcikowski, "Certified Integrated Circuit Design Lab - obtaining the certificate and the benefits of having it," 2018 12th European Workshop on Microelectronics Education (EWME), Braunschweig, Germany, 2018, pp. 55-58. doi: 10.1109/EWME.2018.8629394