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Web Based Design And Analysis Projects For A Junior Level Integrated Circuits Course

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2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

ECE Pedagogy and Assessment

Tagged Division

Electrical and Computer

Page Count


Page Numbers

12.1599.1 - 12.1599.15



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Paper Authors


David Braun California Polytechnic State University

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David Braun is a Professor in the Electrical Engineering Department at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo. He worked at Philips Research Labs in Eindhoven, the Netherlands from 1992 to 1996, after completing the Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering at U.C. Santa Barbara. Please see for information about his courses, teaching interests, and research.

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

Web Based Design and Analysis Projects for a Junior Level Integrated Circuits Course


Just as the electronics industry can increase productivity with web-based tools, web-based design offers opportunities to improve education in the area of electronics and integrated circuits. This work describes a variety of web based design and analysis projects for a junior level electronics course and assesses their impact on student learning. Since the course using the projects comprises the second quarter of electronics instruction subsequent to introductory circuit analysis courses, the projects focus on relatively well-defined electronics subsystems. The projects exercise students’ skills with a range of course learning objectives, ranging from lower level calculation, analysis and circuit simulation objectives to higher level integrative and design objectives. The projects also give students experience using the web as a form of technical communication and collaboration.

Our working hypothesis predicts that having students practice analysis within the environment of web based design problems strengthens their analysis abilities more than conventional drill style problem solving. As measured by survey data of student attitudes, students view the projects enthusiastically and believe the projects contribute to their technical understanding. However, as measured by tests requiring problem solving, project results do not always correlate significantly with students’ abilities to master the course objectives. Also, great variation exists in the correlation between student performance on traditional problem solving exercises and student ability to master the course objectives. This work summarizes project results and student performance over eight years of course offerings.


At Cal Poly, the majority of courses in electrical and computer engineering have laboratory components to provide active learning opportunities and teach practical skills. Instructors increasingly use active and collaborative learning techniques to enhance the learning value of lecture sessions.1 This work seeks to augment active and collaborative learning to help students learn key electronics and integrated circuits concepts more deeply, namely, by finding a better way for them to practice problem solving outside class than traditional homework problems. The idea surfaced to have students complete design projects in electronics courses. Doing the projects online makes it easy for students to convey their results to the instructor and to each other. After employing such design projects for four years (projects 1-6), it became apparent that most students seemed to enjoy working on the design projects and felt they learned lots from doing so. However, the abundance of analytic and conceptual errors the students committed in project reports and on subsequent exams seemed at odds with their enthusiasm. Subsequent project assignments emphasized analysis (projects 9, 13-16) and explanation (projects 8, 10-13). To strengthen conceptual understanding, the course projects required students literally to explain design decisions, analysis, and key course concepts.

Braun, D. (2007, June), Web Based Design And Analysis Projects For A Junior Level Integrated Circuits Course Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--1999

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