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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 433).  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. Photonics
  3. Sensors and Devices
  4. Analog Circuits
  5. Digital VLSI Circuits
  6. Embedded Computing Systems
  7. Electromagnetics
  8. Signal Processing
  9. Communications
  10. Large Scale Power Systems
  11. Sustainable Electric Energy
  12. Power Electronics and Electric Drives
  13. Controls
  14. Synthetic Biology
  15. Student-Designed

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.

Photonics: In this area we investigate physics, material science, devices, and systems involving light, for applications including imaging, sensing, energy, biology, medicine, and next generation information technology. The scientific work in the photonics field ranges from fundamental quantum optics in nanostructures to technological innovations in devices and systems applied to optical communications. The capstone course emphasizes on learning various photonic technologies, where the students will get familiarized with the fundamental and advanced optical components by an optical system design project.

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.

Analog Circuits:  This area emphasizes the design and application of modern semiconductor microelectronics to process continuous signals in continuous time.  Example applications include stereo amplifiers, instrumentation sensors, and radio receivers.

Digital VLSI Circuits: 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.

Large Scale 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.

Sustainable Electric Energy: The scarcity of fossil resources, high fuel cost, and environmental awareness are important drivers behind the strong interest in renewable energy. In the USA the capacity of installed wind power converters has increased by 50 % in only one year. Solar energy conversion and fuel cell technology also receive a lot of attention. This track is centered on the key contributions of electrical engineering to the area of sustainable energy. EE 331 and EE 452 cover the theory of semiconductor switches and their use in the design of power electronic circuits, which enable the interfacing of renewable energy sources and storage. Through a capstone design project, students will learn how to design switch-mode power electronic converters and power supplies. EE 453 covers theory and capstone design of electric drives, which find applications in wind energy converters. Through EE 454 and EE 456 students gain an understanding of power grid analysis and plan a wind farm in the framework of a capstone design project. Apart from the technical skills, students will acquire important project management, communication, and teamworking skills thanks to the design orientation of EE 452, EE 453, and EE 456. With the so-developed set of technical and soft skills, opportunities for employment exist at national research laboratories, technology companies, utilities, and consultancies that deal with renewable energy solutions.

Power Electronics and Electric 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.

Synthetic Biology: This area focuses on the design of synthetic living systems, re-engineered organisms, and engineered genetic parts for existing organisms. Coursework covers genetic engineering, design of genetic circuits and signaling systems, bio-molecular information processing, computer aided design of genomes, laboratory automation, and applications to advanced materials and human health.

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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