ECE 445
Senior Design Project Laboratory

Section Type Times Days Location Instructor
H LAB 1600 - 1750 T   1002 ECE Building  Michael Oelze
Jonathan Makela
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Official Description Individual design projects in various areas of electrical and computer engineering; projects are chosen by students with approval of instructor. A professionally kept lab notebook, a written report, prepared to journal publication standards, and an oral presentation required. Course Information: 4 undergraduate hours. No graduate credit. Class Schedule Information: Additional Laboratory time to be arranged in 246 Everitt Laboratory.
Subject Area Core Curriculum
Course Prerequisites Senior Standing in ECE
Course Directors Paul Scott Carney
Detailed Description and Outline

The objective is to understand the process of project design through experience. The student will produce a schematic drawing (design), breadboard a functional (working) product, test, and document the project. The project experience will exercise engineering skills with an emphasis on testing, as well as cost and scheduling.


  • Preliminary activity
  • Initial design phase
  • Construction and evaluation

Credit is not given toward graduate degrees in Electrical and Computer Engineering.

Computer Usage
Computers are used wherever they can support the project design and documentation, or as part of the working project. Word processors, network simulators, drawing programs, schematic capture, printed circuit layout, cross assemblers and emulators, and direct digital I/O are all used.
Lab Projects
One self-chosen project is executed usually by a team of two persons. Standard bench equipment is supplemented, as needed, with curve tracers, digital oscilloscopes, logic analyzer, distortion analyzer, spectrum analyzers, and network analyzer.
No text.
ABET Category
Engineering Science 10%
Engineering Design: 90%
Course Goals

The objective is to understand the process and elements of an electrical engineering project design through experience.

Instructional Objectives

The students (paired in teams) will produce a project proposal with an original solution to a problem of the student’s choosing, a matched list of requirements and verifications (testing), schematic drawings, diagrams and simulations of the project components (design) and a functional (working) product. The course will provide resources which include circuit design and simulation tools, a laboratory equipped with design and test equipment and parts. A faculty of advisors will be available to steer and scope the initial concepts. The students will test functionality and document the project. The experience will include a design review, progress reports, laboratory notebooks, demonstration of the finished work and a formal project presentation. There will be an emphasis on modularity of design and testing. There will be realistic considerations estimating and controlling project cost and schedule. Ethical considerations in general and specific to the project will be addressed.

A) By the time the students have submitted their Project Proposal, they should be able to

1. Define a clear motivation for the project chosen.

2. Select a team partner and developed a working relationship with that person.

3. Define a block level diagram of the project.

4. Assemble writing and graphical skills to assemble proposal.

5. Develop a schedule for the fabrication and assembly.

6. Investigate a project cost (parts and labor).

B) By the time of the Design Review, they should be able to

1. 4. Create a complete, descriptive list of project requirements and match them with specific tests.

2. Assemble a detailed schematic of the board level design.

3. Perform a circuit simulation of the design (as appropriate).

4. Assemble a complete parts list.

5. Discuss the IEEE Code of Ethics and how the code relates to their work.

C) By the time they perform the Project Build, Fabrication and Testing, they should be able to

1. Follow procedures to acquire parts.

2. Assemble and test (using laboratory equipment), circuit elements.

3. Work with their partner, advisors, and shop personnel to accomplish project elements.

4. Be cognizant of schedule pressures.

5. Recognize the real fabrication world has an entire set of problems not defined in B) above.

D) By the time of the first Individual Report, they should be able to

  1. Give a concise report of accomplishments and set-backs.
  2. Identify next steps to overcome problems.
  3. Update the early schedule.

E) By the time they perform the Project Demonstration, they should be able to

1. Describe engineering accomplishments and failures of the project.

2. Understand the failures and how approaches would be different.

3. Prepare for a hardware review in a timely manner.

4. Demonstrate teamwork through a shared presentation and team knowledge of the project.

F) By the time they perform their Project Presentation, they should be able to

1. Translate the essence of the design project to overheads.

2. Time share a presentation with their partner.

3. Organize so that all elements are presented in a logical order.

4. Develop electronic and oral communication skills.

5. Appear as a professional.

6. Review peers professionally.

7. Identify any ethical concerns with the project and discuss the IEEE Code of Ethics.

G) By the time they present their Final Report, they should be able to

1. Communicate their technical accomplishments with graphics in a logical manner.

2. Write a professional report with publication quality which:

a) Is written correctly for a defined format and

b) Is written with correct English grammar and spelling.

ABET Programs Outcomes and Assessment. ECE 445 addresses the following:

a) An ability to apply knowledge of mathematics, science, and engineering knowledge.

This is an important attribute of successful project engineering in ECE445. Mathematics is used in analysis activities and in calculations of circuit parameter values.

b) An ability to design and conduct experiments, as well as to analyze and interpret data. The whole of ECE445 is to design and implement a successful electrical engineering project with an emphasis on hardware and hands on experience. Test results and interpretation of test results are elements of the demonstration, presentation, and final report. Test tools are provided in the laboratory.

c) An ability to design a system, component, or process to meet desired needs.

The major focus of ECE445 is to exercise this activity. Students design a system that is functionally tested and demonstrated as part of the course grade.

d) An ability to function on a multi-disciplinary teams.

Students work in pairs (with few exceptions). The students divide work elements among the team and exercise teamwork. Students peer-review others design teams and critique their work. Teamwork is a graded element.

e) An ability to identify, formulate, and solve engineering problems.

Students formulate their own problems and solve them as engineering design projects. The project identification and formulation is supported by a staff of advising faculty as well as the Teaching Assistants assigned to the class.

f) An understanding of professional and ethical responsibility.

Team work and professionalism is emphasized throughout the class. Professionalism in presentation of material and is reinforced in the reviews including the design review, weekly team meetings, project demonstration, presentation, as well as the final report. Ethics are emphasized in the laboratory and reporting activities. The students are required to read the IEEE Code of Ethics and discuss how it relates to the project in the Design Review, the Project Presentation, and the Report.

g) An ability to communicate effectively.

Both informal and formal communication skills are exercised and graded. Informal meetings including the design review require shared presentations by all participants on the team. Weekly design meetings by the TA and e-mail are all encouraged and used in the class. A discussion board is a new method which has proven effective for student discussions leading and formulating projects. Individual written reports are required, and graded with feedback for revisions. Formal presentations are required by all students in the final review of the projects, with formal attire and PowerPoint computer presentation of material.

h) The broad education necessary to understand the impact of engineering solutions in a global and societal context.

The student projects convey a wide range of interests on the part of the students regarding these issues. Projects include those which address technologies aimed at medical and helping handicapped people are an example of their awareness and interest in societal issues. They are required to discuss societal impact in the Design Review, Project Presentation, and Report.

i) A recognition of the need for, and an ability to engage in life-long learning.

The students are well aware of the need to keep up with the technology of their field which is ever changing. Many learn this directly as they design circuits which, through research, recent technologies have already solved.

j) A knowledge of contemporary issues.

The projects are derived from real world, current technological problems requiring a solution. The technologies applied are current, with the latest references available.

k) An ability to use the techniques, skills, and modern engineering tools necessary for engineering practice.

ECE445 exercises this in all aspects of the design project and provides the laboratory environment and tools necessary for senior projects.

l) Knowledge of probability and statistics, including applications to electrical /computer engineering practice.

Many of the projects involve sensors with the necessity to distinguish signal from noise, and eliminating noise. Other projects involve probability problems. As such, many of the projects offer the opportunity to apply knowledge of probability and statistics from prior learning.

m) Knowledge of mathematics, and basic and engineering sciences, necessary to carry out analysis and design appropriate to electrical/computer engineering.

Most all projects require simulation of circuitry wherein the knowledge of mathematics and basic and engineering sciences are applied in solving the simulation problems. Plots and graphs of spectra are especially important.

n) Knowledge of advanced mathematics (EE) / discrete mathematics (CompE).

Advanced mathematical skills (EE) are employed by a few projects each semester in complex simulations and control projects.

Last updated: 5/23/2013