Circuit Design and Signal Processing

Note: This focus area has been deleted effective Fall 2014. It is not available in the 2014 or later curricula.

General Description

Circuits: Electrical circuits form the building blocks of most electrical systems. Some examples of systems containing electrical circuits are telephones, radios, television, controllers, oscilloscopes, logic gates, and memories. Analysis of electrical circuits is an essential task in the evaluation of these systems. Circuits are made up of interconnections of various elements such as resistors, inductors, transformers, capacitors, semiconductor diodes and transistors, and operational amplifiers. Some examples of these circuits are amplifiers, oscillators, modulators, demodulators, analog-to-digital and digital-to-analog converters. Various methods for the design of these circuits to meet given specifications are discussed in the courses of this area.

Signal Processing: The electrical voltages and currents that carry useful information are known as signals. Extraction of information from a signal, modification of a signal from one form to another, separation of a signal from noise, etc., are called signal processing. Passive filters, active filters, and digital filters are three classes of filters used in telecommunications, instrumentation, control, and other applications. Other examples of signal processing circuits are spectrum analyzers, echo cancelers, speech synthesizers and recognizers, image processers, and low-pass, high-pass, and band-pass filters. Design and application of the signal processing circuits are taught in the elective courses in this area.

Relation to Other Areas

Electronic circuits are essential components in practically all electrical systems such as controllers, telecommunication systems, power circuits, digital systems, computers, and instrumentation systems. Circuit designers conceive and design these building blocks while engineers in other areas develop systems using these building blocks.

Job Opportunities

Circuit designers are needed in all areas of electrical engineering, especially in telecommunications, instrumentation, control and computer areas. With the advances in the integrated circuit technology, design and construction of new building blocks are continuously needed. Electrical engineers with expertise in the design of signal processing circuits will find employment in such modern applications as speech processing, image processing, wireless telephone, high definition television, and radar.

Focus Area Electives (Senior Sequence)

This focus area is not available in the 2014 or later curricula.

The following are required courses to complete this focus area.

  • ECE 4020 Digital Signal Processing
  • ECE 4130 Introduction to Digital VLSI
  • ECE 3360 Electronics Laboratory *

* ECE 3360 not required if following 2011 or earlier curriculum.

Recommended Courses

Students specializing in this area should take Complex Variables or Linear Algebra for their Math Elective. Students taking senior sequence courses in the circuits and signal processing area will benefit more if they take courses in telecommunications, control or digital areas.

Circuits and Signal Processing Area Courses

The courses below are covered in more detail in your catalog.

  • ECE 2010 Electric Circuits I
  • ECE 2011 Electrical Engineering Laboratory I
  • ECE 2020 Electric Circuits II
  • ECE 3010 Signals and Systems
  • ECE 3020 Discrete-Time Signals and Systems
  • ECE 3060 Electrical Engineering Laboratory II
  • ECE 3300 Electronics I
  • ECE 3310 Electronics II
  • ECE 3360 Electronics Laboratory
  • ECE 4020 Digital Signal Processing
  • ECE 4130 Introduction to Digital VLSI
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