Digital Systems

General Description

The digital systems area primarily involves the design and utilization of digital computer hardware and software. Almost every electronic device made today contains digital circuitry in the form of microprocessors or application- dependent digital interfaces. Whereas analog circuits process continuously-varible electrical signals, digital circuits always involve discrete, quantized electrical signals, which are represented by strings of binary digits (1 or 0). The major classroom topics include Boolean algebra, combinational logic design, sequential logic design, digital integrated circuits, programmable logic devices, computer design, and microprocessor hardware and software. Mainframe computers, microprocessors, video games, industrial data acquisition and control systems, medical instrumentation, and automobile instrumentation are typical end-products of a digital system designer.

Relation to Other Areas

The ultimate products developed within many of the electrical engineering areas are often implemented with digital circuits, including control systems, telecommunications systems, and signal processing systems. Power systems and analog electronics must frequently interface with digital circuits (often computers). Physical phenomena courses provide the theoretical background for the fabrication and operation of digital devices.

Job Opportunities

Since digital systems are so pervasive throughout the world today, there are many jobs available in the digital system area. There are opportunities in design, manufacturing, sales, customer support, and application engineering. The digital engineer may work on discrete large board-level systems or small systems-on-a-chip (VLSI). Applications include all domains: commercial, industrial, and military. Typical products include supercomputers, personal computers, video games, appliances, cellular phones, video and audio products, calculators, digital clocks, industrial control, data acquisition, process control, instrumentation, and automobile and aviation systems.

Focus Area Electives (Senior Sequences)

The following are required courses to complete this focus area.

  • ECE 4110 Sequential Logic Design
  • One of the following three courses:
    • ECE 4120 Fundamentals of Computer Design
    • ECE 4130 Introduction to Digital VLSI
    • ECE 4140 Embedded System Design
  • ECE 3160 Digital Systems Laboratory *

* ECE 3160 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.

Courses

The following courses are in the digital systems area.

  • ECE 2110 Introduction to Digital Systems
  • ECE 3120 Microcomputer Systems
  • ECE 3160 Digital Systems Laboratory
  • ECE 4110 Digital System Design
  • ECE 4120 Fundamentals of Computer Design
  • ECE 4130 Introduction to Digital VLSI
  • ECE 4140 Embedded System Design
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