PCEA Training Design Engineer Curriculum

PCEA Training has acquired PCE-EDU, a training company established by some of the leading names in printed circuit engineering and manufacturing. They include Rick Hartley, Mike Creeden, Susy Webb, Stephen Chavez, and Gary Ferrari. They developed a 400-page handbook (Printed Circuit Engineering Professional) that covers more than 65 major topics ranging from design to materials and fabrication processes. 

To teach the principles set forth in the Printed Circuit Engineering Professional curriculum, PCEA Training offers a five-day course covering the basics of the profession, materials, manufacturing methods and processes; circuit definition and capture; board layout data and placement; circuit routing and interconnection; signal-integrity and EMI applications; flex PCBs; documentation and manufacturing preparation; and advanced electronics (energy movement in circuits, transmission lines, etc.).

The emphasis of the PCEA Training curriculum is on real-world engineering and design, not pie-in-the-sky theory. Students are taught facts and principles in a tool-agnostic way. Instructors include Michael Creeden, Stephen Chavez and Tomas Chester. 

At the end of the workshop, registrants may take the optional certification, called the CPCD, or Certified Printed Circuit Designer. PCEA is the registrar and certifying body for the CPCD.

For more information, see below for a list of topics taught and the author biographies or visit pceatraining.net or contact PCEATraining@pcea.net.

For a list of upcoming courses, see the Events section of this website. 


Find a Class Meet the Certified Designers (CPCD)


Chapter 1: Professional Overview

  • Printed Circuit Engineering Layout Overview – Profession overview
  • Basic Fabrication of a Printed Circuit Board – Materials and construction
  • Basic Assembly of a Printed Circuit Board – Materials and process
  • Basic Electronics in a PCB – Fundamental understanding and concepts
  • Basic Printed Circuit Engineering Layout Overview – Layout process
  • Project Management (PM) – Enabling project success and accountability.
  • Communication – The value all throughout the process

 Chapter 2: Circuit Definition and Capture

  • Libraries to Bill of Material (BOM) – Integrated library: symbols, land patterns
  • Surface Mount and Thru-Hole Technology – Components and process
  • Schematic Types and Conventions– Functional, logic, flat and hierarchal,
  • Schematic Symbol Placement – Orderly circuits improve comprehension
  • Schematic Review – Complete and accurate
  • Circuit Board Types – Rigid, Flex and Printed Electronics
  • IPC – MIL Standards and Specifications – Reference listing of standards
  • Verification, Testing, Compliance & Qual. Assurance –Accuracy
  • Mechanical Board Information –Physical requirements
  • Database Links and Iterative Data Exchange – Development iterations

Chapter 3: Board Layout Data and Placement

  • Board Parameters Set-up CAD – Working environment
  • Stackup Design – Z-Axis relationship
  • Constraints and Rules – Define and implement accurate reliability
  • Placement for Assembly – Performance and buildability
  • Placement of Components – Solvability, performance, and manufacturing
  • Schematic Driven Placement – Integrated cross-probing
  • Placement Dense Digital Circuits – Large Scale Integration
  • Placement Power Delivery – Source, Distribution and Usage
  • Placement Mixed Circuit (RF/HSD) – Independently together
  • Placement Review Milestone – Approval to proceed into routing

 Chapter 4: Circuit Routing and Interconnection

  • General Overview of Routing – Fundamental parameters
  • Routing Dense Digital Circuits – Modular approach
  • Routing with Signal Integrity Applications – Managing energy fields
  • Routing Power Delivery – Source, Distribution and Usage
  • Routing RF Circuits – Managing Dissipation and Loss
  • Routing Review Milestone – Approval to proceed into routing

Chapter 5: Flex Printed Circuits (FPC)

  • Flex and Rigid-Flex Technology – Overview and Introductions to FPC
  • Flexible Printed Circuit Types – IPC established definition
  • Flexible Circuits Applications – Industry sectors and usage
  • Materials for Flexible Circuits – Properties and process
  • Design Start Considerations – Physical and electrical overview
  • FPC Stack-up Constructions – Usage and process
  • Flex Design Practices – Physical and electrical aspects
  • Production Process Consideration – Process flow overview
  • Conductive Surface Finishes – Overview of types and process
  • Stiffeners – Types and applications
  • Shielding Material – EMI and EMC considerations
  • Design for Manufacturability and Assembly – Unique concerns building FPC

Chapter 6: Documentation and Manufacturing Preparation

  • Documentation Overview – Prepare for the final design effort
  • Resequencing Reference Designators – Back-annotation
  • Silkscreen – Providing visual intelligence
  • Industry Standards – Design, document and build compliance
  • Post-processing Procedure – Know what to expect at you company
  • Manufacturing Deliverables – Documentation overview
  • Fabrication Drawing – Instructions to fabricate the bare board
  • Assembly Drawing – Reference drawing used to assemble the PCA
  • Schematic Database and Drawing – Circuit capture and BOM origin
  • Bill of Materials (BOM) – Controlling document
  • Final Deliverables – Formats and creation process
  • Transfer to Manufacturer – Manufacturing interface

Chapter 7: Advanced Electronics, EM Applications

(During the review class only cursory coverage of Chapter 7 will be provided due to the advanced nature of this content.)

  • Energy Movement in Circuits – Introductory overview of EM Theory
  • Critical Frequencies in Circuits on PC Boards Frequency and Rise Time (Tr)
  • Transmission Lines in PC Boards – Relational nature in electronics
  • Understanding Impedance of Transmission Lines – Modification from layout
  • Impedance Control of Transmission Lines – Controlling impedance in layout
  • Controlling Impedance of Digital ICs – Controlled and set to specific values
  • Controlling Noise Margin – Critical lengths understanding
  • Crosstalk and Cross-coupling – Capacitive and inductive coupling
  • Controlling Timing of High-speed Lines – Timing matched, not length


Michael Creeden, CID+ Master Instructor

44 years of industry experience: educator, PCB designer, FAE and entrepreneur

  • Insulectro – Technical Director Design Education
  • Vice Chair – Printed Circuit Engineering Association (PCEA)
  • Master Instructor – CID+ IPC Designer Certification program
  • Founder of San Diego PCB Design

Gary Ferrari, CID+ Master Instructor

55 years in industry including PCB design, fabrication, and assembly

  • Ferrari Technical Services – Principle, PCB technical consulting and expert witness
  • Master instructor – IPC CID/CID+ design, IPC-A-600, and IPC-6012
  • IPC Technical Activities Executive Committee (TAEC), 44 IPC committees, Cofounder of IPC Designers Council, IPC Hall of Fame Inductee (2017)
  • PCEA Executive Board chairman emeritus 

Susy Webb, CID, Professional Development Instructor

42 years of industry experience: educator, PCB designer, consultant, contractor

  • Design Science – PCB Design Engineer/Contractor
  • International PCB Design Conference Speaker for 16+ years 
  • Chapter Author – Clyde Coombs’ Printed Circuits Handbook, seventh edition
  • PCEA Education Committee member and director
  • Former IPC Designer’s Council Executive Board member

Rick Hartley, BSEE, CID, Professional Development Instructor

55 years in electronics including 44 years PCB design, 25 years as consultant

  • Master Trainer in EMI Control, High-speed PCB design
  • Education Committee – Printed Circuit Engineering Association (PCEA)
  • Design Experience – telecommunications, avionics, computers, medical devices, industrial controls, and automotive electronics

Stephen V. Chavez, CID+ Master Instructor

30 years of industry experience: Educator, PCB Design and Entrepreneur

  • Collins Aerospace – Staff Engineer, SME PCB Design, CID+
  • Chairman – Printed Circuit Engineering Association (PCEA)
  • Master Instructor – CID+ IPC Design Certification program

AS Degree (Mathematics) & United States Marine Corps (Avionics)


Registrants are mailed the student kit, which includes a 400-page textbook that should be read (Chapters 1-6) approximately four weeks prior to your scheduled  live or interactive class. Following the class, you may take the exam for certification. This is an online open book, timed exam.

The cost for this enrollment is $2,595, including the optional certification exam, which is significantly more cost-effective than the few similar certifications currently on the market. This certification is recognized by the PCEA and is created exclusively for PCE professionals. (All registrants outside North America will be charged an additional $150 for express shipment of the handbook.)

This newly created curriculum is technically up to date, as opposed to other certification programs that were created several decades ago and are primarily focused on standards and manufacturing.

The new CPCD program, which is ECAD-neutral, focuses on these and all relevant perspectives such as: SI, standards, layout skills (i.e. place/route), and manufacturing aspects.

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