COVID-19 has caused many companies to suspend operations or send their employees home to work remotely. Restaurants, gyms, and even libraries are closed to promote social distancing. Many of us engineers or engineering students are simply stuck at home with little to do. Some semiconductor companies are emerging at this uncertain time to provide educational resources and free online training courses to keep EE skills sharp. One of the companies that has come to the rescue is National Instruments. From now until at least the end of April, the company offers free access to its entire catalog of online courses to engineers and engineering students alike. These resources can come in the form of interactive quizzes, exercises, and even live instructions.
Landing page for National Instruments online training sources. Screenshot used courtesy of National Instruments
This article will cover several other semiconductor companies, such as National Instruments, that have come forward for us homebound engineers interested in continuing education.
Who else offers free training?
So far no one else is unlocking training courses (which usually require a fee) to rescue technical dudes like us from quarantine. But there are many existing resources from large companies to help us fill our downtime productively.
Analog Devices Analog Devices offers a wealth of educational resources with an introductory focus on the analog electrical circuits curriculum. Divided into modules and teaching materials, ADI’s continuing education encompasses analog electronics, mixed-signal electronics, and signals and systems, organized into small subsections or combined into a PDF e-book. As an example, if you head to the Courseware category and go to Online teaching materials, you can find a table of contents similar to a textbook, starting with operational amplifiers. From there, if you start with the “ideal voltage feedback op amp (VFB)” you will get a clear explanation of the basics of how an op amp works.
A screenshot from one of the many tutorials in the ADI course. This covers ideal voltage feedback operational amplifiers (VFB). Screenshot used courtesy of Analog Devices
This curriculum is a useful resource for students who are transitioning from classroom lectures to online learning. It’s also a helpful tool for engineers working to brush up on the basics.
Texas Instruments Take it from me – the IT documentation is excellent. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve suffered trying to understand the impossibly bad explanations from other companies, just to clarify with good old IT. IT has a dedicated home page for training and videos, divided into four main categories: Applications and Designs. , other content (including student resources), products, tools, and software. While some of these resources provide support for the use of IT products, others are generally educational, such as the TI Precision Labs series.TI Precision Labs features a large number of videos for each of its categories: Please note that all these numbers are current as of this writing, but TI adds to its video series almost weekly.
A screenshot from one of the TI Precision Labs videos. All videos are also transcribed. Screenshot used courtesy of Texas Instruments
If you’re not in the mood to browse the resources by category in the left sidebar, you can go straight to your desired topic via a keyword search in the training library. Do you want to learn about brushless DC motors? Just type “BLDC” into your keyword search and you’ll get a wealth of informational resources.
Silicon Labs Silicon Labs also offers a training landing page that is divided into conceptual and product-specific categories: The first thing that caught my eye was Bluetooth. As an example of the types of resources you can expect from Silicon Labs, a trip to the Bluetooth category gives you the opportunity to explore Bluetooth fundamentals, Bluetooth-related advertising, boot-loading, Bluetooth security, and other tidbits. educational miscellaneous. In addition, Silicon Labs also offers a series of white papers and webinars that could be helpful for an RF engineer working with a Bluetooth-enabled device, here the home engineer or engineering student can spend a productive afternoon. I chose this example because this technology is not that difficult to understand as it is confused by esoteric terminology. The reader will benefit from seeing it explained in a complete and sequentially logical way.
Other resources to pay
Several other electronics companies offer ongoing educational opportunities, but I can’t promise they are all free like those offered by National Instruments (temporarily), Analog Devices, Texas Instruments, and Silicon Labs. They may be worth checking out regardless of:
And don’t forget about us, all about the circuits!
Well now it’s time for All About Circuits to play our own bugle. I may be biased, but no free online learning story would be complete without mentioning our own educational resources. If you haven’t already, check out our open source six-volume textbook written by Tony R. Kuphaldt.For a more advanced look at specific topics like radio frequency or power electronics, you can visit our Practical Guide to Analysis and Radio Frequency Design or Power Electronics Basics hosted on our sister site, EE Power. You can also check out our video tutorials if you are more of a visual learner.Our worksheets can also be a great way to test your engineering prowess in a fun and free format.
Take control of your quarantine time
So engineers and future engineers, get off that couch and turn off the TV. You may be stuck at home, but as long as you have an internet connection, you will have access to great learning opportunities. Don’t let them pass you!
Featured image used courtesy of Annie Spratt