Implementing a signal integrity course in undergraduate education

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Signal integrity has been identified as one of the key areas for scientific education and research at the national level. Nationally, few universities offer courses in signal integrity (SI), and there are none in the immediate area. Therefore, there is a critical need for signal integrity training and support. This is especially important in the Harrisburg metropolitan area given the high concentration of electrical connector companies. In this paper, the authors describe the implementation of a signal integrity course that include up-todate topics, modern laboratory experiences and speakers from industrial settings. The topics include: basics of simulation tools to visualize time and frequency domain signals as well as transmission line modeling using PSPICE; introducing a Time Domain Reflectometer as a fundamental tool in signal integrity; crosstalk, including practical examples of where and how it occurs. The following topic is using a Vector Network Analyzer (VNA): this is another critical instrument used by the signal integrity community. The use of this equipment requires performance of the following tasks: calibration, frequency range setup, average setup, and collection of S-parameter data using a VNA. Another critical topic is understanding digital communication channel behavior by observing an eye diagram, including how to obtain and analyze an eye diagram using a modern Bit Error Rate Tester. In addition, a high frequency structural simulator is used to obtain S-parameters for different communication structures. Finally, the authors invited a guest speaker from an industry nearby to talk about practical applications in the SI field. The expected outcome is to produce graduates with hands-on signal integrity experience, who will transfer to the workplace with competitive skills and who will be positioned to extend their academic goals in graduate school. The authors will also make the course content available to other programs, universities and nearby community colleges. Moreover, the authors intend to align signal integrity course with the extensive electrical connector business in the Harrisburg area.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
StatePublished - Jun 24 2017
Event124th ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition - Columbus, United States
Duration: Jun 25 2017Jun 28 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Engineering


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