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Electronics Education: Exploring the Power of Circuit Simulation Tools

Updated: Sep 12

In today's world, electronics Education are an essential part of our daily lives, from smartphones to cars and everything in between. With the increasing complexity of electronic devices, it's becoming more important than ever to have a deep understanding of how they work. However, acquiring that knowledge can be a daunting task. Fortunately, simulation tools are available that can help students and professionals alike to gain a deeper understanding of electronics. In this blog post, we will explore the power of circuit simulation tools and how they can be used to enhance electronics education.


The first circuit simulation tool was developed at the Electronics Research Laboratory of the University of California, Berkeley by Laurence Nagel in 1973. It was called the Simulation Program with Integrated Circuit Emphasis (SPICE) and used by engineers to mathematically predict the behavior of electronics circuits. Electronics became more prevalent in the use of creating circuits as a result of developing technology and the demand for electronics engineers was also growing, the development of SPICE-program experienced growing attention and popularity. Linear Technologies, one of the leading manufacturers of electronic components, offered a free, full SPICE-program named LTspice. It can be downloaded from the web without any registration procedure or fees (Mladenović,2015).


The interface of LTspice, shown on the left, users need to draw a circuit in a format of schematic diagram first, shown in Figure2. After completing the drawing, users can simulate the circuit by clicking it in the top menu bar, then it will pop up a simulation window and your cursor will become a test probe. Click on any part in your schematic diagram, it will show the simulated voltage/current passed at the tested point.

During the practice portion, LTspice acts more like a learning activity tool to verify the circuit before students actually perform a hands-on experiment and build a circuit on a breadboard that is a simple device designed for students to create circuits without the need for soldering. The traditional approach to teaching electronics is to combine theoretical explanations about circuits using schematics diagrams with a practical, hands-on experiment where students implement circuits in breadboards.

In 2007, the open-source software called Fritzing was developed by Professor Reto Wettach, who also taught “Physical Interaction Design” at the University of Applied Sciences, in Germany (Fritzing). Unlike the traditional SPICE-program tool, Fritzing allowed users to choose a Breadboard view, schematic diagram view or Printed Circuit Board (PCB) view. In Breadboard view, Fritzing provided a rich set of generic components so the user could easily drag and drop components into Breadboard, but the simulation function is disabled by default as it is still a beta feature in Fritzing.

stimulation -1

Similar to Fritzing, TinkerCAD also has its circuit simulation function presented in a Breadboard view. TinkerCAD was founded by former Google engineer Kai Backman in 2011. From a statistics point of view, there were over 10 million designs, and more than 1 million people were using TinkerCAD in 2015. These numbers added up to 300 million designs and introduced nearly 37 million people (TinkerCAD). In terms of educators, there has not been any research dedicated to tracking the number of teachers who registered for TinkerCAD. From personal experience and informal Action Research, there seems to be a large number of educators who use TinkerCAD. TinkerCAD has the ability to create classes where students work on projects. Teachers can use its features to set up virtual classrooms, send and receive assignments, monitor student progress, and assign new activities all within online learning. The most intriguing feature is Tinker CAD’s circuit simulation function, after the users build (drag and drop) and complete the circuit, they can click ‘Start Simulation’ on the top right corner.

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Another exciting feature of a circuit simulation tool is called Short Circuit VR. It was developed by two graduate students: Stefan Bauwens and Cindy Ho. This VR project just launched in 2022, and it is still in a prototyping phase. Short Circuit VR is an educational sandbox game to learn electronics. It simulates electronics experiments in a VR setting which allow users to create their own projects (Figure 8). Although Short Circuit VR hasn’t been implemented in any schools, it has a great potential for people who believe that technologies such as virtual reality and augmented reality can help people in many ways and provide endless possibilities in the education sector.

Lastly, We hope this blog post has given you a glimpse into the world of simulation tools and their potential applications in electronics education. In the coming blogs, we will be publishing a series of blog posts that dive deeper into each of these simulation tools, exploring their feasibility and the details of how they can be used to enhance electronics education. We invite you to stay tuned and join us on this journey of discovering the power of simulation tools in electronics education.


Mladenović, V. (2015). Contemporary electronics with LTSpice and mathematica. In Synthesis 2015-International Scientific Conference of IT and Business-Related Research (pp. 134-138). Singidunum University.

Fritzing (2007). Open-source software for documenting prototypes, learning interactive electronics and PCB production

AutoDesk TinkerCAD (2021). Tinkercad and You: 2020-21 Year in Review

Short Circuit VR (2018). About us

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