Asee peer logo

BYOE: An Introductory Laboratory-Based Course on Switching Regulator Analysis and Design

Download Paper |


2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

June 29, 2016





Conference Session

Division Experimentation & Lab-Oriented Studies: BYOE Session

Tagged Division

Division Experimentation & Lab-Oriented Studies

Page Count




Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Harry Courtney Powell University of Virginia

visit author page

Harry Powell is an Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering in the Charles L. Brown Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Virginia. After receiving a Bachelor's Degree in Electrical Engineering in1978 he was an active research and design engineer, focusing on automation, embedded systems, remote control, and electronic/mechanical co-design techniques, holding 16 patents in these areas. Returning to academia, he earned a PhD in Electrical and Computer Engineering in 2011 at the University of Virginia. His current research interests include machine learning, embedded systems, electrical power systems, and engineering education.

visit author page

Download Paper |


To broaden our curriculum in electrical and computer engineering, we have expanded our upper-level elective offerings to include a series of 1.5 credit hour laboratory courses that are designed to complement existing courses, or to encourage students to reach out into a subject area with which they are not previously familiar. These courses have generated great interest, and virtually all of our 3rd and 4th-year students are engaged with them. We have also seen a steady increase in interest in alternate energy topics from an electrical engineering perspective. A recent survey among our 2nd-year students suggested that 80% were interested in learning about energy efficient systems design and would either be "very likely" or "absolutely certain" to take a course that illustrated how such systems operated and are designed. Switching voltage regulators are at the heart of nearly all alternate energy system designs that involve electrical machines and devices, thus forming a natural introduction to the techniques involved in realizing such devices. Also, they are rarely covered in traditional coursework. In this laboratory, we have designed a sequence of experiments that allow students to explore simple linear regulators, buck, boost, and buck-boost converters. For each experiment, we start by examining the topology from a theoretical standpoint, typically at a high level, then measure efficiency under varying load and line conditions. In subsequent experiments, we look at the regulation process from a control systems theoretic standpoint and examine transient response with step changes in load. For each one, we perform a thorough simulation using widely available on-line resources and study the differences between predicted values and those obtained by actual measurements, giving students an excellent sense of how well the models may predict performance, and the influence of stray circuit elements. These subject not often seen in undergraduate courses. The laboratory hardware consists of a set of experimental boards supplied by a well-known semiconductor manufacturer and adapted by us for the purposes of this course. Also, we developed additional low-cost add-on boards for load testing, thus significantly mitigating the cost of course development. The culmination of the course is the use of the on-line tool mentioned above to simulate and design an actual circuit that meets specifications set forth by each student. Students assemble and test their boards and compare the realized performance versus the simulations as well as their design specifications. Our BYOE experiment illustrates the use of our equipment in combination with the supplied experimental boards. We also show how these experimental setups may be adapted to coursework at several different levels, ranging from high-level/introductory to detailed/in-depth design oriented.

Powell, H. C. (2016, June), BYOE: An Introductory Laboratory-Based Course on Switching Regulator Analysis and Design Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.26422

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: © 2016 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