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BSEE Major Concentration Areas

Students must select one of the following major concentration areas, which emphasize depth in addition to some adjacent breadth in Electrical Engineering. Each of the areas culminates with a significant design project in a "capstone" course (indicated by an * adjacent to the number of credits, e.g., EE 475). It should be possible for students to complete more than one of the areas in their entirety, however only one is required. In some cases, major concentration areas may require courses from a different department or have suggested electives from a different department. When courses from other departments are taken, the credits earned will not count toward the minimum 58 credits required in EE, but they will count toward other required credits as appropriate (for instance, engineering electives to reach 68 total EE/ENGR credits; approved non-EE electives; VLPA/I&S).

Students who are declared double-degree majors with Computer Science or have transferred to EE from CSE programs and have taken CSE 311 Foundations of Computing I may use CSE 369 Introduction to Digital Design in place of EE 271 for any EE concentration with permission from an EE advisor.

EE Major Concentration Area Chart

  1. Biomedical Instrumentation
  2. Integrated Systems
  3. Sensors and Devices
  4. Digital VLSI
  5. Embedded Computing Systems
  6. Electromagnetics
  7. Digital Signal and Image Processing
  8. Communications
  9. Sustainable Power Systems
  10. Power Electronics and Drives
  11. Controls
  12. Student-Designed

Note: EE 497 (4 cr) and EE 498 (4 cr) Engineering Entrepreneurial Capstone may be used as the capstone course for any concentration except Controls. Both courses must be taken to receive credit.

Biomedical Instrumentation: This area emphasizes the design and application of modern semiconductor microelectronics to biomedical instrumentation.   Example applications include EKG preamplifiers, differential pressure pneumotachograph and optical heart rate monitors.

Integrated Systems:  The application space for integrated devices is virtually unlimited. Circuits and sensors that are integrated on a single chip benefit from orders-of-magnitude reduction in cost, size and power as compared to discrete, board-level solutions of electronic systems. Example applications would include single-chip radios found in your phone and laptop, biosensors (neural interfaces, devices for spectroscopy, blood analysis, etc), control applications, to name a few. Those that have skills in designing these devices are typically in very high demand, both within industry and academia (faculty in the VLSI group are always on the lookout for grad students with good IC design skills). The Integrated Systems (IS) Course Concentration track is intended to introduce students to many of the topics surrounding analog and mixed-signal integrated interface design. The IS track will focus on topics (courses) from device physics with an emphasis on CMOS and evolving device technologies, to analog and mixed-signal Integrated Circuit (IC) design. Track will conclude with a capstone project related to designing a chip with the associated layout and verification.

Sensors and Devices: This area emphasizes the science and design of devices with an underlying emphasis on device physics and interface circuits. Examples include MOS transistors, photovoltaic devices, lasers, accelerometers, biochemical transducers, and micro-actuators.

Digital VLSI: This area emphasizes the technology of designing digital microelectronic circuits which could be implemented as a single integrated circuit with millions of transistors.  Example applications include computer memory, logic gates, digital ASIC (application specific IC) and various programmable gate array systems:

Embedded Computing Systems:  This area emphasizes the design of digital circuits at a somewhat higher level.  The design of logic circuits is partially abstracted into various logic families, with considerations of speed, power, and other performance measures. Example applications include digital cameras, portable music players (such as an iPod), electronics in automobiles, home appliances, etc.

Electromagnetics: This area emphasizes the progation of electromagnetic waves in space, in transmission lines, and in other structures.  There is a short segment on electrostatics as well.  We provide a capstone course in antennas, which convert electrical signals to and from electromagnetic waves. Example applications of electromagnetics includes optical-fiber communications, radar, antennas, wireless communications, and sensors.

Digital Signal and Image Processing: In this area, we develop powerful methods to process both continuous and discrete signals using mathematical techniques to perform transformations and/or extract information.  We deal with a variety of signal forms such as music, video, speech, language, images, sonar, seismic vibrations, medical, and biological.  It is a vital technology with applications in many areas: communications, information processing, consumer electronics, control systems, radar and sonar, medical imaging, seismology, and scientific instrumentation. Examples of signal processing tasks include removing noise from voice signals, automatic recognition of human speech for voice activated devices, enabling satellite imaging systems to resolve tiny objects on the ground, enhancing internal organs in CAT scans, compressing music signals for portable music players (such as iPods), and compressing video for DVD and videoconferencing.

Communications: This area emphasizes modern analysis for transporting information from one place to another through wired or wireless communications, and from one time to another, as in data storage.  Example applications include cellular telephones technology, broadcast TV and radio, satellite communications, optical fiber communications, computer networking, and communications network security.

Sustainable Power Systems: This area prepares students for careers in the electric energy industry with utilities, manufacturers, consulting firms and government agencies, and for graduate work in power systems research. Large scale power systems are the largest capital investment industry in the United States. The power system itself has been described as the largest man-made system in the world. Large scale power systems are fundamental foundational infrastructure for the high technology society in which we live. While the problem of efficient generation and delivery of electric energy is as old as the light bulb, the power industry is an avid early adopter of advanced technology to better solve the continuing problem.

Power Electronics and Drives: Power electronics is among those areas of electrical engineering whose importance is expected to grow dramatically over the next years and decades. Whether one considers hybrid car technology, power supply solutions for data storage centers and high-performance computing, energy efficient technologies, or renewable energy - state-of-the-art power electronics is central to all designs. Electric drives provide important solutions to electromechanical energy conversion and control in broad areas such as transportation or robotics, but also in applications as diverse as hard disks or wind energy conversion. This track prepares students for exciting opportunities in all these areas. EE 331 and EE 452 cover the theory of semiconductor switches and their use in the design of power electronic circuits. EE 453 covers theory and design of electric drives. The horizon of the students is broadened through EE447 and EE 454, where students study the analysis of control and power systems, respectively. Apart from the technical skills, students will acquire important project management, communication, and teamworking skills thanks to the design orientation of EE 452 and EE 453. With the so-developed set of technical and soft skills, opportunities for employment exist at national research laboratories, manufacturers of vehicles and aircraft, technology companies, utilities, and consultancies that deal with solutions to power conversion.

Controls: In this area way we investigate means for controlling dynamic systems through (primarily) electrical signaling, mostly digital, but occasionally analog means.   Applications include  aircraft controls, force-feedback (haptic) displays, vibration reduction, and prosthetic limbs.

Student-developed curriculum
Students may propose a custom path after consulting with faculty and the Advising Office.  Such one time paths must be approved by the Undergraduate Coordinator and/or the Associate Chair for Education.

If you are unable to take the designated capstone course from your selected Major Concentration Area due to unusual circumstances, an independent design project (at least 4 credits) may be approved as a replacement. A proposal for such a replacement must be approved by the Group Chair for your area and the Faculty Undergraduate Program Coordinator. Consult the EE Advising Office for more information on this process.

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