There are student versions of both CircuitStudio and Altium Designer available by special request (they are not available to order online). There are no 'free' versions (so please don't ask) however at around $100 to $150 they are low cost options worthy of consideration. The software is identical to the full commercial version but differs in licensing terms - the licenses are for a set period of 12 months rather than lifetime (perpetual), the software should not be used for commercial projects and the user is not entitled to technical support (you can still make use of the user forums).
Are students being trained for specific industry roles?
If the aim is to train students in the use of a particular CAD package then it makes sense to use that software in the learning environment be it CS or AD. Please be aware that CS is not available to license on a class basis but only to individual students.
Is it a classroom teaching situation with many students?
AD features floating licenses which allow installation of the software on a large number of computers (e.g. a teaching lab) with the number of licenses purchases enabling that many students to make active use of the software. This style of licensing is easy to administer because it is centralised and there is no need to worry how many copies of the software are installed. CS cannot be licensed on a classroom basis, only directly by individual students.
Are students expected to use the software away from class?
The floating license feature of AD will work across a network so if students can access the campus network then the licensing should continue to operate and allow students to use the software outside of the computer lab. Software asset management is made easy due to the licensing - there is no need to control how many copies of the software installed because the number of users is limited by the licensing scheme.
Are you running an advanced PCB design course?
AD, as an industry standard high end package, has many features dedicated to complex and high speed board designs. If the teaching course requires use of rigid-flex designs, very high speed circuits that require trace and impedance matching, advanced design rules, repeated circuit elements and similar then AD is the best choice.
The educational product is covered by different licensing terms to the commercial product that restricts the use of the software. An academic use license is for use by:
- Faculty and academic staff performing software administration, teaching, and non-commercial, academic research [AD only]
- Enrolled students, meeting classroom requirements of courses and study offered by approved educational institutions [AD and CS]
Prohibited uses include any use for purposes of supporting:
- Research and development for any commercial (for profit) entity even if a portion of such research is for pure academic reasons
- Government agencies or not for profit entities
How to Order
Altium Designer Educational information and contact form can be found at https://www.altium.com/solutions/by-industry/education.
Student versions cannot be purchased online or through the in-app purchase mechanism, the product is available by special quote only and proof of student or educational status will be required.