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Rationales on a Required Class on Signal and Power Integrity in a Computer Engineering Curriculum

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2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013



Conference Session

ECE Curriculum Improvement

Tagged Division

Electrical and Computer

Page Count


Page Numbers

23.1019.1 - 23.1019.10



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Paper Authors


JianJian Song Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology

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Jianjian Song (M’88, S’07) received his B.S. degree in radio engineering from Huazhong University of Science and Technology in Wuhan, China in 1982, and his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in electrical engineering from the University of Minnesota in 1985 and 1991. He joined the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering of Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in Terre Haute, Indiana in 1999 as associate professor and he has been full professor since 2010. From 1991 to 1999, he worked for the Institute of High Performance Computing of the National University of Singapore as research scientist and division manager. His teaching and research interests include electromagnetic compatibility, high-speed digital system design, microcontroller-based system design, embedded and real-time systems, electronics design automation, and algorithms and architecture for parallel and cluster computing.

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Deborah Walter Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology

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Dr. Deborah Walter is an Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology. She teaches courses in circuits, electromagnetics, and medical imaging. Before joining academia in 2006, she was at the Computed Tomography Laboratory at GE’s Global Research Center for 8 years. She worked on several technology development projects in the area of X-ray CT for medical and industrial imaging. She is a named inventor on 9 patents. She has been active in the recruitment and retention of women and minorities in engineering and currently PI for an NSF-STEM grant to improve diversity at Rose-Hulman.

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Edward Wheeler Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology

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Edward Wheeler is Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology. His teaching and research interests include electromagnetics, signal integrity, microwave devices, MEMS and the electrical and magnetic properties of materials.

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Rationales on a Required Class on Signal and Power Integrity in a Computer Engineering Curriculum Signal integrity (SI) and power integrity (SI) is about transmitting reliably signal andpower in electronic systems such as those built with multiple packages involving printed circuitboards (PCBs) and silicon wafers, multichip carriers, connectors, cables and enclosures. Aswireless communications, high speed digital circuits, mixed signal PCBs, hand-held or portabledevices and battery power become ubiquitous in more and more electronic devices,understanding SI and PI has become critical for computer engineers to design reliable and cost-effective electronic products. Topics in SI and PI often involve interaction betweenelectromagnetic fields, wave and electronic circuit. Therefore, knowledge of certain areas ofelectromagnetic fields and wave is required to know SI and PI. Most computer engineering curricula in the USA do not have required classes onelectromagnetic fields and wave beyond freshman physics. Computer engineering curricula areoften too crowded to add a required electromagnetic class for one semester or two quarters.Students often feel electromagnetic classes are irrelevant to their career as they don’t see how theclasses relate to their future career in computer engineering. Would it be possible to introduce SIand PI without requiring a comprehensive class on electromagnetic fields and waves? Would itbe beneficial to computer engineering major to take a SI and PI class without a comprehensiveclass on electromagnetic fields and waves? We feel it is possible to teach SI and PI to computer engineering students without aprerequisite class on electromagnetic fields and wave. The compromise is to add a SI and PIclass that covers electromagnetic fields and wave related to SI and PI. The class can focus onpresenting relationship between fields, wave and circuits and on how to extract circuitparameters under different working conditions from field or wave models given geometries andmaterial properties of an electronic system. This class will then apply correct circuit models andtools to solve SI or PI problems. The following are the main topics this class may cover: Electric and magnetic fieldmodels of lumped-element capacitor and inductor; Transverse electromagnetic wave model of alossless or lossy transmission line; Extractions of circuit parameters from geometries ofcapacitor, inductor and transmission line. High speed behaviors of passive components;Frequency spectrum of digital signals; Models of drivers and receivers of digital devices.Transmission line impedance discontinuity and termination techniques; Coupling mechanisms ofelectrical and magnetic fields and capacitive and inductive crosstalk; Ground noise. Power planenoise and resonance; Signal and power integrity issues in high-speed digital systems at printed-circuit board and chip levels. We feel computer engineering students will benefit from a class proposed above. Thebenefits of this class are multifold. The class will serve as a link between real world physicalimplementation and ideal functional design of an electronic circuit. It will be a podium, probablythe only one in a computer engineering curriculum, to combine digital, analog and RF circuitsand to traverse between electromagnetic fields and electronic circuits and to relate geometriesand material properties to circuit parameters. It will help students to understand differencesbetween high speed and low speed properties of electrical signal transmissions and electronicdevices. We have proposed for this class to be added to the computer engineering curriculum atour school and we will report our experience of this new class after this class has been taught fora couple of years.

Song, J., & Walter, D., & Wheeler, E. (2013, June), Rationales on a Required Class on Signal and Power Integrity in a Computer Engineering Curriculum Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--22404

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