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Experiences In Teaching Dsp First In The Ece Curriculum

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1997 Annual Conference


Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Publication Date

June 15, 1997

Start Date

June 15, 1997

End Date

June 18, 1997



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Page Numbers

2.188.1 - 2.188.8

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Ronald W. Schafer

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Mark A. Yoder

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James H. McClellan

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

Session 1220

Experiences in Teaching DSP First in the ECE Curriculum James H. McClellan1, Ronald W. Schafer1, Mark A. Yoder2 1 2 School of Electrical and Computer School of Electrical and Computer Engineering Engineering Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology Georgia Institute of Technology Terre Haute, IN 47803 USA Atlanta, GA 30332-0250 USA

Abstract In this paper we describe experiences gained from teaching an introductory electrical engineering course based on digital signal processing rather than the traditional first course in analog circuit theory. We will discuss our motivation for teaching DSP first, before covering analog circuits and systems. We will describe the style of the course and point out difficulties, as well as advantages, in this organization of basic material. At Georgia Tech and Rose-Hulman, this beginning course has been required of all computer engineering majors. Finally, we will make some comments about extending this approach to encompass a wider range of students from other disciplines.

1. Introduction An introductory electrical engineering course based on Digital Signal Processing (DSP) has been taught at Georgia Tech since 1993, and also at Rose-Hulman for the past two years. This course uses digital filters and simplified frequency domain descriptions to convey the important ideas of filtering, systems, frequency response and z-transforms. Since the course is based on digital signal processing, it has been quite easy to incorporate computer-based lab experiences into the flow of the material. Sound synthesis has been our primary vehicle for illustrating frequency content, and has even allowed us to introduce the idea of time-frequency analysis via the spectrogram. In addition, two of the labs treat image processing, where low-order FIR filters are used for blurring and sharpening, as well as image zooming via interpolation. Although we have not undertaken a formal evaluation of student performance and learning, it is clear that computer engineering students react favorably to this introduction. Many computer-oriented students discover an unexpected link between computers and the mathematics of signal theory, and have pursued further study in traditional DSP courses at the senior and graduate level.

2. DSP First The idea of using signal processing as the first course in electrical engineering is not new. Some have proposed teaching analog signal processing prior to circuit theory, so that a system viewpoint is presented prior to the details of circuit implementation. Our approach has been to start with digital signal processing, and then move into analog systems. This matches quite well with the everyday experiences of most of our students who have expertise with software packages that might contain DSP capabilities (e.g., image enhancement in a program such as Adobe Photoshop).

Even the DSP first approach is derived from other efforts, most notably Prof. Ken Steiglitz [1] at Princeton. His initial effort was ahead of its time, because the software to support actual processing was neither widely available nor easy to use in the 1970's. More recently, Steiglitz has

Schafer, R. W., & Yoder, M. A., & McClellan, J. H. (1997, June), Experiences In Teaching Dsp First In The Ece Curriculum Paper presented at 1997 Annual Conference, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

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