Asee peer logo

Analog-Circuit-Based Activities to Improve Introductory Continuous-Time Signals and Systems Courses

Download Paper |


2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013



Conference Session

Laboratory Development in ECE II

Tagged Division

Electrical and Computer

Page Count


Page Numbers

23.188.1 - 23.188.14



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Mario Simoni Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology

visit author page

Dr. Simoni is an Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in Terre Haute, IN.

visit author page


Maurice F. Aburdene Bucknell University

visit author page

Maurice Felix Aburdene is a Professor of Electrical Engineering and Professor of Computer Science at Bucknell University. His teaching and research interests include control systems, parallel algorithms, simulation of dynamic systems, and signal processing.

visit author page


Farrah Fayyaz Purdue University

Download Paper |


Analog-Circuit-Based Activities to Improve Introductory Continuous-Time Signals and Systems CoursesThe introductory continuous-time linear systems, signals and systems courses (CTSS) are someof the most difficult courses that students encounter in an electrical and computer engineering(ECE) curriculum, as evidenced by well-above-average drop/failure rates. The highlymathematical, abstract, and theoretical concepts are difficult for the students to visualize. Thisdifficulty is reinforced by the lack of hands-on experiences in this area. At Bucknell and Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, we have tried to improve motivation and learning by creatingapplication-oriented, active-learning opportunities for students.The activities start off with simple examples, such as single sinusoids and then progress to real-world applications, such as filtering ECG and DTMF signals. In order to facilitate theseexercises, Rose-Hulman developed the signals and systems exploration platform (SSEP), ananalog circuit platform that greatly facilitates hands-on exploration of these concepts, withrealistic applications, using truly continuous-time analog circuits. The SSEP is a printed circuitboard (PCB) that can easily be configured to sum, multiply, filter, and sample continuous -timesignals. With an onboard microphone, ECG/instrumentation amplifier, and generic signal input,a wide variety of signals can be studied and manipulated. Also, we have developed a number ofexercises based on the SSEP that can be used in a formal laboratory setting or for in-classdemonstrations. While the SSEP platform facilitates the exercises, they can also be performed intraditional labs with commonly available equipment. While the SSEP has been described inprevious publications, the laboratory exercises have not. This paper describes several of theseexercises in detail.These exercises have been used in an introductory CTSS course since September of 2010, taughtin a 10 week quarter, with 3 one-hour lectures and 1 three-hour laboratory session per week.While the exercises were designed to be done in the three-hour session, we show how they canbe broken up into smaller steps that could be completed easily in a one-hour class either by thestudents or as a demonstration by the professor.At Rose Hulman, prior to implementing these exercises, the laboratory portion of the course wasbased primarily upon MATLAB programming. In order to get some measure of the impact ofthese exercises, we surveyed the students for one year before the exercises were introduced. Wenow have two years of survey results, some of which are presented to indicate changes inmotivation and perspective about the material.

Simoni, M., & Aburdene, M. F., & Fayyaz, F. (2013, June), Analog-Circuit-Based Activities to Improve Introductory Continuous-Time Signals and Systems Courses Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--19202

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: © 2013 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