Analog is back – how do we help the teachers take it to the students?
Part - II
C.P. Ravikumar, Texas Instruments
In order to show how to teach analog system design at the undergraduate level, Prof. K.R.K. Rao of Texas Instruments has designed a curriculum for an “Analog System Lab” course and a set of experiments that must be included in such a lab. Prof. Rao and I collaborated on writing these experiments as a manual that is published by Wiley India. I consider myself fortunate to have been involved in this endeavor. The experiments in the Analog System Lab can be performed using an “Analog System Lab Starter Kit” from Texas Instruments. Here is a brief preview of the experiments!
- Negative feedback amplifiers in both inverting and non inverting configuration
- Instrumentation amplifiers
- Regenerative feedback (Schmitt Trigger) systems
- Monostable and Astable Multivibrators
- Integrators and differentiators
- Second-order filters
- Self-tuned filters
- Voltage-controlled oscillators (VCO)
- Function generators
- Phase-locked loop (PLL)
- Automatic gain control (AGC)
- DC-DC converter
- Low Drop Out (LDO) regulator
|Analog System Lab Starter Kit||Analog System Lab Manual published by Wiley India|
A five-day faculty development program on “Analog System Design” was held during Nov 15-19, 2010 at Texas Instruments, Bangalore where about 20 engineering teachers from different parts of the country took part. The course was organized by Texas Instruments India University Program in cooperation with IEEE Bangalore Section, IEEE Circuits and Systems Society Bangalore Chapter and VLSI Society of India.
Dr. Venu Gopinathan, Director, Kilby Labs, TI India
Venu Gopinathan, Director Kilby Labs, TI India, who inaugurated the five-day faculty development program on Analog System Design, spoke about the gaps that exist between what is being taught in the universities and what is expected from the graduating students in the industry. “Analog touches all parts of life,” he explained. “Take any electronic product and you will find analog integrated circuits inside it. Yet, there are very few good analog designers.” Some of the tips he gave to the faculty members in the audience were –
- Analog design is intuitive in nature – you must inspire your students to think intuitively.
- Analog design does not make sense without a lab. Use the lab for simulation as well as prototyping.
- A good circuit designer is not just one whose circuit works, but one who knows where his circuit will fail.
- Use the right text books. Sometimes, faculty members use a text book that they are familiar with from their student days.
- Raise the level of abstraction – emphasizing on device physics in an analog design course could kill the spirit of the course.
- Encourage your students to think. In practice, problems are abstract and we need to learn to cast them in the language of electronics. We are good at answering questions such as “Find the HCF of 12, 18, and 24.” But real life may throw up an abstract version of this problem - “A room has the dimensions of 18’ x 24’ x 12’ – what is the length of the longest measuring tape which can be used to measure the dimensions of the room?”
During the workshop, the participants performed all the 10 experiments (simulation as well as hardware). On the final day, each of the participants was asked to talk about one of the experiments and the experience in conducting the experiment. Prof. Rao was available to provide helpful hints and corrections to the teachers. Some of the points that came out during this session were:
- Speak loudly and confidently.
- Ensure that you have conducted the experiment beforehand.
- Do as much side reading as possible to understand all the aspects of the experiment.
The workshop was highly appreciated by the participants, who felt they were now confident of introducing analog system design in their classrooms.