Lauren Christopher, School of Engineering and Technology

Principal Investigator: Lauren Christopher, assistant professor, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, School of Engineering and Technology

Project Title: Enhancement and integration of ECE Digital Design Project and Lab Components

Funding Level: $3,000


Real-time hardware designs are used in many imaging tasks, including current exciting research areas such as 3D Medical Imaging, 3D Computer Vision, and 3D Surveillance.  Furthermore, the digital hardware design in industry is now heavily dependent on Hardware Description Languages (HDLs) for implementing complex digital systems.  There are few educational programs that combine the hardware design HDLs together with an image processing focus that is needed for these applications to succeed.  This grant proposal will enhance and integrate the HDL components of Sophomore, Senior and Graduate levels of digital design with coherent labs and project components that contain concrete application in the imaging applications.  The integration of two current undergraduate courses and one new graduate course will involve a coherent flow of hands-on design tasks needed for imaging research; which will then build in design complexity throughout this sequence of courses. 

This grant proposal addresses two key needs for the digital design course track.  First, a new graduate level course with sufficient complexity in the hands-on design components in HDL, FPGA design, and 3D imaging for graduate students is needed.  This need to extend the department’s offering in the HDL and digital VLSI design area has been seen in feedback from graduate students for the past 3 years.  This additional course will expand the offering in this key technology area.  Second, the existing ECE270 and ECE421 both require upgraded hands-on learning modules to achieve better learning outcomes and create a coherent thread with an imaging application in mind.  Some research in digital design education has shown that an application focus area will provide enhanced student learning, improved student retention and build stronger hardware hands-on skills.  The hypothesis is that these outcomes will be gained from providing these three courses an integrated, application-focused, hands-on learning experience.