A PWM converter is the prime component in many power electronic applications such as static UPS, electric motor drives, power quality conditioners and renewable-energy-based power generation systems. While there are a number of computer simulation tools available today for studying power electronic systems,the value added by the experience of building a power converter and controlling it to function as desired is unparalleled. A student, in the process, not only understands power electronic concepts better, but also gains insights into other essential engineering aspects of auxiliary subsystems such as start-up, sensing, protection, circuit layout design, mechanical arrangement and system integration. Higher levels of protection features are critical for the converters used in a laboratory environment, as advanced protection schemes could prevent unanticipated failures occurring during the course of research. This paper presents a laboratory-built General-Purpose IGBT Stack (GPIS), which facilitates students to practically realize different power converter topologies. Essential subsystems for a complete power converter system is presented covering details of semiconductor device driving, sensing circuit, protection mechanism, system start-up, relaying and critical PCB layout design, followed by a brief comparison to commercially available IGBT stacks. The results show the high performance that can be obtained by the GPIS converter.