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A New Introductory Course On Signals, Circuits And Systems

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2006 Annual Conference & Exposition


Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006



Conference Session

ECE Curriculum Innovations

Tagged Division

Electrical and Computer

Page Count


Page Numbers

11.83.1 - 11.83.19



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Paper Authors

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Mehmet Ozturk North Carolina State University

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Michael Escuti North Carolina State University

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


INTRODUCTION In this paper, we present a new sophomore level Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) course on introductory concepts in signals, circuits and systems. This is the first required ECE course that ECE majors take after they complete the required courses common to all engineering students during their first year in the college. This course is a prerequisite for two other required core courses offered during the second semester of the second year: a course on electric circuits and another course on mathematical foundations of electrical and computer engineering. The new course was first offered in Fall 2000 semester. Since then, the course contents were periodically reviewed and revised based on the results of the course instructors’ assessment studies on student learning, discussions with the instructors of the follow-up courses and student feedback surveys.

BRIEF HISTORY OF THE COURSE The new course is the result of an evolutionary process, which started as a one-semester course to introduce different specialization areas in electrical and computer engineering. The need for such a course came about as a result of a new ECE curriculum, which emphasized junior and senior level elective courses to achieve depth in at least one of the ECE specialization areas. The new course was intended as a catalyst encouraging the students to consider their interests in different ECE specializations as early as possible to help them in choosing their elective courses.

At the time, the ECE faculty participating in the development effort for this course was strongly against creating just a survey course, which would most likely lack the rigor of a typical introductory course. A consensus was reached to create a course with a strong hardware laboratory component reviewing different ECE specializations while providing key fundamental concepts. It was decided to devote approximately one third of the course to introductory material followed by eight weeks on different specialization areas. According to the initial plan, two 75 minute lectures per week would be used to cover the theoretical material necessary to perform the experiments in laboratory, which would meet almost every week for three hours. The specializations to be included in the course were decided on based on the strengths of our department. The list included circuits, electric power, communication, digital signal processing, solid state electronics, logic design, computer architecture and computer networking. . One of the great challenges of this plan was to create the hardware laboratory: the experiments had to be representative of the respective specialization areas and they had to be chosen from exciting real-life applications. This approach required dedicated laboratory hardware to be designed and constructed in order to be able to demonstrate complex applications at a level that would be accessible to beginning students. In addition, a new textbook had to be written since none of the existing textbooks would fit the course contents. This job was assumed by several faculty members representing different specializations.

Soon after we began offering the course, we began to realize that the initial plan was too ambitious for a one-semester course. According to the results of the student surveys, the students enjoyed learning about different specializations, which gave them a better understanding

Ozturk, M., & Escuti, M. (2006, June), A New Introductory Course On Signals, Circuits And Systems Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--1388

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