Tracks

Analog and Mixed-Signal Circuits

Humans are analog beings living in an analog world. That is, all the signals we extract from our sensory inputs (visual, auditory, haptic, olfactory, and environmental) are continuous in time and magnitude. Alternatively, fueled by Moore’s scaling law, digitization of most information has become possible. Nowadays, most of the signals are processed and stored in digital format—with quantized magnitudes and discrete time. Digital-to-analog and analog-to-digital signal conversion is therefore crucial in all digital devices. Alternatively, processing and storing signals in the analog domain opens unprecedented performance opportunities for next-generation electronic devices. This track will help you acquire analytical tools and intuitive insight required for efficiently analyzing and designing analog systems (amplifiers, filters, analog-to-digital interfaces, and power circuits). You can further broaden your circuit design expertise by coupling this track with courses in digital systems and VLSI. Alternatively, to deepen knowledge in power delivery systems, courses in power electronics, management, and systems should be considered.

Communications

Communications is an area of ECE that seeks to understand the theory and practice of how electronic devices communicate. This track will develop a fundamental understanding of how digital communications (magnetic recording, storage on flash memory, internet) and wireless communications (cell phones, WiFi) work. What you learn here can be nicely coupled with signal processing, control, and networking courses to form a deeper understanding of the role of communications within larger systems.

Computer and Networked Systems

The computer and networked systems area focuses on the design and optimization of computer systems, including processors, memory systems, and communication networks. This track will help you understand how the processor, main memory, and computer network work; how to optimize their performance and energy efficiency; and how to utilize the computer systems more efficiently.

Control, Robotics, and Embedded Systems

The area of control will help you learn how to design devices (with underlying algorithms) that modulate the input of a system in order to produce the desired output response. In a practical embedded system, such a device is implemented on a digital/mixed-signal computational platform and is an integral part of the overall system that is typically electrical and/or mechanical. Robotics is an important application area for control and embedded systems; they are widely used in industries ranging from manufacturing to pharmaceuticals; they enable safe operation of cars, airplanes and the power grid/systems, and they save lives through medical devices.

Data Science and Engineering

Data science studies the principles behind how knowledge is formed from observations, not just in the human mind, but also within the tools that we build. Data engineers use these principles to handle the large amounts of data in modern applications: think of how much is generated every second by Internet-of-Things devices, cameras, cellphones, and sensors, from your wristwatch all the way to satellites in space. How data is used and how it is acquired are deeply intertwined, which is why this track is closely related to the signal processing track. You can select courses from both tracks and specialize in both at the same time.

Digital Systems and VLSI

The area of digital systems and VLSI focuses on the design, analysis, layout, and fabrication/implementation of a wide gamut of components and systems. These include, but are not limited to, the most basic component of a transistor, logic/digital gates, circuits of various complexities (including arithmetic and digital signal processing circuits), and complex systems (including processors, systems-on-chips, and embedded systems with billions of transistors). In this area, various metrics need to be either optimized (e.g., minimum power consumption) or have their specifications met (e.g., a clock frequency of 2 GHz) in the circuits or systems being designed. These metrics include speed, power consumption, chip area or cost, chip yield (the percentage of fabricated chips found to be good – meeting all specs and performing correctly), and temperature profile. Algorithms that automate the implementation and analysis aspects of the design process to meet the aforementioned requirements are a major part of this area. Almost all aspects of modern technology are either direct products of this area or have critical underpinnings in this area.

Electromagnetics

Electromagnetics is the study of the underlying laws that govern the manipulation of electricity and magnetism and how we use these laws to our advantage. Applications enabled by electromagnetics include power distribution systems, wireless communications (TV, radio, cellular phones), radar systems, remote sensing, medical imaging systems, photonics and, recently, the Internet of Things. It is essential for all ECE students to have both a qualitative and a quantitative understanding of electromagnetics in order to evaluate which approximations and abstractions are appropriate to any particular design.

Power Electronics and Systems

This track intends to provide students and researchers with education and exposure in the areas of power electronics, power management, and power systems. Applications range from smart/micro grid, electrical and autonomous vehicles and locomotives, renewable and alternative energy and distributed generation, aerospace, space, motor drives, telecommunication, cyber-physical systems, wireless power, VLSI, power integrated circuits, and the Internet of Things. While power electronics provides a broader exposure to the mechanisms and synthesis of semiconductor based switchable power-flow circuits and systems mechanisms and realizations, power management relates to the controllability and intelligent realizations and monolithic electronic synthesis for power management, and power systems provides general introduction to the system and network aspects of power distribution and/or transmission. Students are encouraged to explore other areas including controls, integrated and digital and analog circuits, semiconductor devices, cyber-physical systems, machine learning, and electromagnetics that may provide complementary expertise.

Signal Processing

Signal processing is focused on systems used to manipulate signals that convey information in various domains such as speech, audio, images, video, multimedia, biomedicine, geosciences, meteorology, finance, and much more. Applications include filtering, prediction, smoothing, de-noising, restoration, enhancement, clustering, classification, recognition, analysis, and synthesis.

Solid State Devices

Solid state devices is a wide area of electronic devices and systems based on semiconductors. Those materials could be elemental semiconductors, such as silicon (Si) and germanium (Ge), or compound semiconductors that combine two or more materials from the periodic table, such as GaAs, InP, and AlGaAs. Silicon, the most studied material in the periodic table, has been the material of choice for semiconductor device fabrication since the early 1960s. Compound semiconductors, on the other hand, have electrical properties superior to Si and are now replacing Si in high-speed electronic applications. The main advantage of these semiconductors is that their electronic properties can be precisely tailored to specific electronic and photonic applications. The solid state device area concentrates on theory and device fabrication to provide a solid background for future electronic device development.