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Innovations in Engineering Education through Integration of Physics

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

August 28, 2016





Conference Session

Engineering Physics Technical Session 3

Tagged Division

Engineering Physics & Physics

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Paper Authors


Kanti Prasad University of Massachusetts, Lowell

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Dr. Kanti Prasad is a professor in the department of electrical and computer Engineering and is founding Director of Microelectronics/VLSI Technology Laboratories at the University Massachusetts Lowell. Professor Prasad initiated the Microelectronics/ VLSI program in 1984, and is teaching 16.469/16.502 VLSI Design and 16.470/504 VLSI Fabrication courses since its inception. From the spring of 1986 Professor Prasad developed 16.661 Local Area/Computer Networks, and since 1994 VHDL Based Digital Design and taught up to 2001, till Dr. Terence Kelly (received his doctorate under supervision of Professor Prasad) took over. From spring 1998, Professor Prasad also developed and taught 16.517, MMIC Design and Fabrication course to meet the growing demand of regional semiconductor industries. He is the recipient of Zone I best paper award by American Society of Engineering Education (ASEE) in 2008. He has been appointed as honorable member of IAAB of the MEGHE group of Institution and Shree Baba Ramdeo College of Engineering and Management (Nagpur) in India. He has also received the Best Teaching award for the New England Region, and the Best Campus award for the Zone 1 from ASEE during 2012. He is also coordinator for Graduate Studies in VLSI and Semiconductors certificate program. Professor Prasad already offered Online 16.517 MMIC Design and Fabrication during Spring 2009 and also developing MEMS Design and Fabrication to be offered Online starting from Spring 2013. He is the author of over 150 theses, dissertations and papers published and presented in journals/conferences of national and international repute. In 2013 Professor Prasad was awarded Fellow from the ASEE.

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Innovations in Engineering Education Through Integration of Physics

Kanti Prasad Ph.D.; P.E.; F.ASEE Professor/Founding Director Microelectronics/VLSI Technology Electrical and Computer Engineering Department University of Massachusetts Lowell

Abstract: We are already in the age of information technology revolution. This not only incorporates traditional engineering but all aspects of power of Internet also, culminating into a variety of state-of-art technologies. It is the sublime duty of engineering educators to integrate these technologies into their curriculum as a prime requirement. The class room instructions must prepare the students not only to meet the challenges of the revolution but must enable them to cope with the challenges presented because of perpetual enhancements in technologies. Presentation of advanced technologies through innovate teaching is of prime importance, but the most important is the comprehension of these technologies by the students. How to accomplish this goal is of paramount importance? My teaching experience of 30+ years at the state-of-art technologies has convinced me that no new information can become knowledge until it is yoked (yoga) with the existing data base of the students. The best method to accomplish this is that educator must integrate physics in the state-of-art technologies. We must make sure that we continually connect higher with the lower knowledge to make them wise else they will be otherwise. I repeat this mantra in all my classes so that no student of mine remains in ‘otherwise’ category. Presentation of advanced technologies in class room is of prime importance. In order to demonstrate it, I would like to recite a number of Hi-Tech courses; I am involved in teaching and research at the moment. For the last 10 years, I along with my Ph.D. students have forged collaboration with Analog Devices in designing MEMS (micro-electro mechanical systems) and testing them deploying ESA (electro static actuation) developed as a result of the collaboration, replacing traditional shaker based test methodologies. In the class room however I found explaining this fascinating technology through describing that F=ma for mechanical engineers whereas, F= q for electrical engineers. In essence design of MEMS sensors is based on application of mechanical force, and converting it into voltage developed across a capacitor in zepto farads (10-21farads) with one plate fixed and another one flexible which is the basis of designing an accelerometer, primarily used in automobiles. The design of gyroscope is based on accurate measurements of coriolis force ‘Fc’ and is proportional to velocity of the resonator. The development of algorithm for testing gyroscopes is under investigations under this collaboration. For the last 15 years, I along with my Ph.D. students have forged another collaboration with Skyworks Solutions in designing ASIC chips and improving the yield and reliability of Advanced Processing Technologies. Class room instructions in VLSI chip design include maximizing the number of transistor’s on the die, optimizing the speed along with minimizing the power dissipation of the chip. Once again fundamentals incorporated in this course are hypothesis and theorems of Boolean algebra layout and placement etc. Inclusion of simple formula of physics such as power dissipation are pretty effective. In the VLSI Fabrication course, the incorporation of physics in carrying out diffusion, oxidation, ion implantation and MTBF (mean time between failure) analysis, fundamentals employed are worth mentioning:

Flick’s Law for Diffusion

Deal and Groves’s model for oxidation

Ion Implantation



Once again it demonstrates the emphasis is on integrating physics in most advanced processing techniques along with simulation and testing. I am also involved in the team of workforce development of the region for enhancing the capability in RF domain. This is being accomplished through a MMIC Design and Fabrication course along with other relevant courses. In the MMIC course, I establish a connection between S-parameters for microwaves and the A, B, C, D parameters of the circuit theory. The objective of the course is to design low noise broad band and high power stable amplifiers resulting in maximum gain with the lowest noise margin feasible. Once again it is based on physics principles such as:

S-parameters of the transistors and their input and output matching networks

The fabrication aspect involves a number of Advanced Etching and Dry Stripping Techniques employing a variety of plazma Techniques based on sound physics. I am convinced however, that innovations in engineering education must be carried out in all disciplines of engineering through integration of physics along with state-of-art technologies for the readiness of the work force development nationally as well as internationally to meet the challenges of emerging technologies of the 21st century.

Prasad, K. (2016, June), Innovations in Engineering Education through Integration of Physics Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.25713

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