Asee peer logo

An Integrated Mixed-signal Circuit Design Course Project

Download Paper |


2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual On line

Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

Capstone, Undergraduate Research, and Projects in ECE

Tagged Division

Electrical and Computer

Page Count




Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Ying Lin Western Washington University

visit author page

Ying Lin has been with the faculty of Engineering and Design Department at Western Washington University since September 2010 after she taught for two years at SUNY, New Platz. She received her MS in Applied Statistics and Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from Syracuse University, NY, respectively. Her teaching interests include first-year Intro to Electrical Engineering, circuit analysis, signas and systems, and upper-division digital Signal Processing courses. Her research areas focus on statistical signal processing for emerging cyber-physical systems.

visit author page

author page

Steve Sandelin

Download Paper |


Abstract In this paper, we present a novel teaching practice adopted in a circuit analysis course in an Electrical Engineering (EE) curriculum. In particular, we have introduced a course project that integrates topics from both an analog circuits course and a digital electronics course which are taken by EE Sophomore students in the same quarter.

For most EE curriculum, analog circuitry and digital electronic devices are traditionally covered in different courses. The course projects in these subjects are often offered independently without coordination across these courses. Recently, some EE programs have experimented to introduce a single course that covers both analog and digital fundamentals[1] to meet the needs of multidisciplinary curricula.

The EE curriculum in our institution follows a traditional course structure. The sophomore EE students take the circuit analysis II course and the digital electronics course in the fall quarter of their sophomore year. Through the collaboration and coordinator of the instructors of these two courses, we have developed and introduced a joint course project that fuses topics from both courses and offered it in the circuit analysis II class.

The goal of this course project is to demonstrate how analog and digital design methodologies combine in the creation of mixed-signal designs. The students are asked to implement and demonstrate a pair of design goals that utilize knowledge and skills acquired in a circuit analysis class and the digital electronics class. The design challenges are based upon the use of a 555 timer and a series of RC combinations, which incorporate both digital and analog elements. Each student is required to design the analog and digital circuity needed to configure and control the timer to produce desired output. The end results of this course project are two engaging and fun circuits highlighted as follows. • The first one is a photo-Theremin which demonstrates the same concept as a traditional Theremin, of alternating the time constant of an oscillator circuit, to produce a Theremin like instrument that uses variations in light intensity instead of variation in local electric fields. • The second circuit realizes an activation and de-activation sequencing as demonstrated by a bank of LEDs taking turns to turn on and off sequentially.

Both circuits involve a 555 timer operating under different states and various modes. For each circuit design, students need to meet a number of design challenges under certain constraints. Detailed design specifications, design objectives, constraints, and deliverables will be elaborated in the full paper draft.

The collaborative nature of this course project offers multiple benefits. Below is a list of a few. 1. Providing students hands-on experience in designing, analyzing, and testing mixed-signal circuits. 2. Enabling students to apply knowledge and skills acquired from two different courses in the same quarter to design real-life circuits. 3. Bridging two different subjects of EE together through engaging and fun circuits and providing a big picture view. 4. Promoting students’ motivation to continue pursuing the EE major.

We have offered this course project to sophomore EE majors in the circuit analysis II course at our institution in fall 2018 and fall 2019, respectively.

To gauge the effectiveness of this teaching practice, we have collected students’ feedback in term of survey questionnaires. The feedback from the fall 2018 class are overwhelmingly positive. The students unanimously agree that the project experience is worthwhile and beneficial. In the full paper, we will provide the detailed survey questions and survey statistics as well. The survey results from the fall 2019 class will be available upon completion of the project in early December, 2019 and will be included in the full paper draft.

Note: we prefer to present this work in a poster session.

References 1. “Combining Digital with Analog Circuits in a Core Course for a Multidisciplinary Engineering Curriculum”, Harold R Underwood and Donald George Pratt, 122nd ASEE Annual Conference, June 14-17, 2015, Seattle.

Lin, Y., & Sandelin, S. (2020, June), An Integrated Mixed-signal Circuit Design Course Project Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--34130

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2020 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015