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Technical support a vital component

A NEW TAFE course has been introduced to train students in the design and repair of sophisticated circuit boards.

Challenger TAFE in Fremantle, in partnership with security solutions company Ultrak Asia Pacific, has established a 12-month part-time course with a view to producing com-puter technicians proficient at designing and repairing Ball Grid Array circuit boards.

Significantly smaller than Pin Grid Array microchips currently used in standard printed circuit boards, BGA microchips enhance computer power, efficiency and speed and reduce operating faults.

Unlike PGA microchips, which simply plug into PCBs, technicians must solder BGA microchips onto circuit boards using microscopes and infra-red or hot sir soldering equipment.

Ultrak research and development technical officer Chuck Franz said the tiny chips could be used in everything from hand held calculators to mobile telephones and medical equipment.

But a pronounced lack of technical support and equipment has meant the emerging technology is yet to take off in Australia.

“Quite a lot of companies are refusing to use the technology because they do not have the technical support,” Mr Franz said.

The new TAFE course would soon change that, he said, with WA students training side by side with electronic design engineers to become world leaders in BGA technology.

“This course is the first of its kind and it will teach students to install, remove, replace and design a computer with a BGA circuit board,” Mr Franz said.

“The students will also have direct input into the development of international standards for future students in this field.

“WA will benefit immediately from the courses as we will be producing technicians with training that has never been offered before”

Challenger TAFE corporate training consultant Terry McNeil agreed and expected the technicians to be in high demand once they had completed their training.

“The technicians will be snapped up … and it will be good for WA because there are plenty of niche markets for this type of technology,” Mr McNeil said.

“The technology has applications in information technology, oil and gas, military and maritime equipment, telecommunications and security.”

Twenty-eight students started the course last week and have been joined by seven technicians already working in the industry.

The course has won the support of the State Government, which awarded it a $192,600 grant from the Science and Technology Innovation Fund.

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