Mind The Gap … That Might Open If You Neglect Analog Skills

Understanding magnetics in power management

By Thibault Paillier, Strategic Partnership Manager, Würth Elektronik eiSos

In this age of “digital everything,” many university students feel that digital electronics is modern and exciting, while analog electronics appears boring and outmoded. Worse yet, many university curriculums have modelled the interests of their students, boosting their offerings in digital technology, while deemphasizing analog design skills. The world, however, is analog. Light, sound, temperature, pressure, and acceleration are all analog quantities, so analog sensors, signal conditioning, and data converters will always be required.

Don’t underestimate the importance of power magnetics

Power management is an impactful area of study, for in our world every electronic system utilizes a power source to operate. The inductors and transformers are key components of DC-DC converters that are widely used in power management applications. As energy efficiency and a “green” Earth become increasingly important, analog power-management techniques are needed more than ever.

Würth Elektronik eiSos is a global leader manufacturer of power inductors. Every day, we have to educate accomplished electrical engineers about power magnetics. Most universities do not offer courses in the area of power management especially addressing the challenges associated with design and optimization of power magnetics, which is a very important part of any electronic system.

In order to fill this gap, we decided to collaborate with the leader in power management ICs, Texas Instruments, to make a hands-on learning kit for students to improve their understanding of magnetics in power management solutions; the TI-PMLK Würth Elektronik Edition.

Let’s teach magnetics with hands-on learning kit

Please bear this in mind: In any power management solution that you design there will be magnetics and that it is not going to change anytime soon. In a world focused on energy saving, optimal magnetics selection is actually the key to making the most efficient power supply!

We want to show people that magnetics are not so complicated. Any students using our TI-PMLK Würth Elektronik Edition can learn about it thanks to one of the six simple, hands-on experiments detailed in the experiments book, available online for free.This is how we want to help: We offer a complete solution for professors to teach their students about magnetics. We are the first to make an accessible hands-on learning kit dedicated to magnetics study. The kit was developed by Professor Nicola Femia who has over 25 years of experience in education, industry research and training. You benefit from Texas Instrument’s expertise and ours, with a kit based on real world applications that will help engineers to learn about power supply design and optimization.

As building their own hardware for experiments with magnetics in power management would be too costly for any single university, we provide a board that comes at a very affordable price of 119 euros or $129. The kit includes a digital book with example experiments. Students with basic knowledge can use this kit and run the experiment autonomously, thus learning by themselves and improving their knowledge in electronics. The board features input and output over-voltage and polarity reversal protection by e-fuse to make sure that even a beginner will not damage the hardware.

Don’t forget: You’re never too old to learn

We introduced the TI-PMLK Würth Elektronik Edition kit at “electronica 2018” where I talked about it with Steve Lambouses, Vice President High Voltage Power at Texas Instruments and Alexander Gerfer, CTO Würth Elektronik eiSos Group: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-XAkFieD8Uk. And we are pleased with the initial feedback: Customers expressed interest to acquire the kit to teach their new engineers about power supply optimization without requiring a costly external training. Also, we are planning to organize free of charge customer seminars with this kit, our FAEs can help customers to learn about inductor selection using the board. The customer can purchase a kit and continue to do more experiments even after the seminar and what is learned using the kit can be applied in their design.

Still not convinced of the benefits of the TI-PMLK Würth Elektronik? You can watch this webinar about “Understanding Inductor Characteristics Using a New Hand-On Learning Kit”

So if you read this and realize: "I could use a better understanding of magnetics in power management solutions" – you’re welcome to check out the learning kit TI-PMLK Würth Elektronik Edition.