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A Cross Cultural Vlsi Design Project

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2003 Annual Conference


Nashville, Tennessee

Publication Date

June 22, 2003

Start Date

June 22, 2003

End Date

June 25, 2003



Conference Session

Capstone Design and Engineering Practice

Page Count


Page Numbers

8.37.1 - 8.37.6



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Paper Authors

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David Harris

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 3232

A Cross-Cultural VLSI Design Project

David Harris Tayfun Akin Harvey Mudd College Middle East Technical University Claremont, CA Ankara, TURKEY


Harvey Mudd College (HMC) and the Middle East Technical University (METU) have conducted a joint cross-cultural Very Large Scale Integration (VLSI) design course supported by a grant from the Mellon Foundation. In the spring of 2002, three teams of two American students HMC enrolled in E158 (Introduction to CMOS VLSI Design) worked with teams of two Turkish students from METU who had taken a VLSI course in the previous semester. The teams collaborated across cultures and time zones using email, web pages, chat, videoconferencing, and the telephone. At first students preferred voice communication to get to know each other; as the projects progressed, email and chat reduced difficulties with spoken English. Each team completed the design of a MOSIS TinyChip. One of the designs, a FIR filter, was fabricated and tested to operate as intended. This paper describes the logistics of running the cross-cultural VLSI design project course. Students found that the extra communication effort roughly offset the time savings of splitting the project four ways instead of two. However, they enjoyed the experience working with colleagues from another country and of learning to manage a complex engineering task across multiple sites. They would have liked to travel and meet their counterparts, but insufficient funding was available. The project is being repeated in the spring of 2003.


Engineering is a heavily team-based profession. Integrated circuit design has become so complex that the teams are very large and draw on geographically distributed specialists. For example, the Intel Itanium processor design team comprised approximately 500 engineers in California and Arizona collaborating with experts from Intel groups in Oregon and Israel and partnering with a Hewlett-Packard team from Colorado. Integrated circuit manufacturing is distributed around the globe.

Future engineers need to be comfortable working in design teams. Upper-division VLSI design electives are an ideal opportunity to develop these skills because team design projects mirror the realities of industry. Usually the design teams consist of students within a single class at a single institution. With the support of a grant from the Mellon Foundation for intercultural education with technology, Harvey Mudd College (Claremont, CA) and the Middle East Technical University (Ankara, Turkey) took collaboration one step further to experiment with cross- cultural VLSI design projects. HMC and METU are similar in that both offer outstanding undergraduate engineering programs and teach in English. However, they are eight time zones apart and are very different in culture and native language.

This paper describes the logistics and results of the cross-cultural VLSI design project as it was taught in Spring 2002. It briefly describes the overall structures of the course and the schedule of the student projects. The central objective of the grant was to develop experience in intercultural

Proceedings of the 2003 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2003, American Society for Engineering Education

Harris, D. (2003, June), A Cross Cultural Vlsi Design Project Paper presented at 2003 Annual Conference, Nashville, Tennessee. 10.18260/1-2--11922

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