The Microelectronics Reliability course has been offered in the Division of Engineering Programs at SUNY New Paltz as a professional elective since Spring 2020. As one of the pedagogical goals of this one-semester course is to highlight and promote the interdisciplinary nature of semiconductors engineering, students are encouraged to collaborate and contribute their technical knowledge in the realms of electrical and mechanical engineering to study the reliability of computer chips. In the past, this course introduced the degradation mechanism associated with each circuit component separately, including hot-carrier injection in transistors and electromigration in metal interconnects. Individual projects were assigned to model and project the end-of-life wear-out from a specified degradation mechanism. As noted previously, the prior course did not engage direct collaboration between the electrical and mechanical engineering students. Since interdisciplinary collaboration and apt technical communication are necessities in the semiconductor industry, an effective delivery of this course engenders the development of a team-based project in which students in different disciplines can exercise their respective academic knowledge to jointly make reliability assessments. We propose a final group project which studies the overall circuit-level reliability, with each group comprising a mix of two to three mechanical and electrical engineering students. Employing a basic BiCMOS voltage follower, groups are required to conduct circuit-level reliability assessments holistically, tasking students with quantifying the interaction among devices under operation, estimating the degradation of individual components, and proposing strategies to mitigate potential reliability risks. By design, electrical engineering students will be charged with evaluating the circuit on a schematic-level and simulating the circuit operation, and mechanical engineering students will undertake thermal analysis to account for localized Joule heating and estimate temperature distribution in the circuit. Collaboratively across disciplines, the condition of each circuit element under operation can be ascertained. This paper will introduce the design considerations and outline of the group project, as well as demonstrate the feasibility of the holistic reliability assessment using the voltage follower circuit. Plans to evaluate the impact on the learning outcomes from the group project will also be described.
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