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Information at a Glance


Prof. Tilman Wolf (
Prof. T. Baird Soules (


Thu 4:00 p.m. - 5:15 p.m.*, Goessman Lab, room 20


Thu 4:00 p.m. - 5:15 p.m.*, Marcus 10/12 (*see schedule)


"Design for Electrical and Computer Engineers" by Ralph Ford & Chris Coulston, McGraw Hill, 2008. (ISBN13: 9780073380353, ISBN10: 0073380350) [optional - one per team required]

Course web sites: [for grades only]

Course Description and Objectives

This syllabus covers a two-course sequence that forms the ECE Senior Design Project:

  • ECE 415: Principles of engineering design process. Small groups of students design computer/electronic systems to specifications. Preliminary paper design is followed by hardware or software prototype. Students must complete project in ECE 416.
    Prerequisites: ECE 313, ECE 323, and ECE 353. For EE and CSE majors only.
  • ECE 416: Continuation of ECE 415. Design of small computer/electronic system built, refined, tested, and demonstrated. Final prototype is shown to meet initial specifications at final design review presentation.
    Prerequisite: ECE 415.

After successfully completing this course, you should be able to:

  1. Apply engineering design principles to formulate problem statement, analyze requirements and produce a system-level block diagram.
  2. Prototype an electronic and/or software system to meet given specifications.
  3. Integrate knowledge from across the core CSE or EE curriculum.
  4. Take a systems approach to problem solving.
  5. Work productively in a team environment.
  6. Effectively communicate technical ideas and concepts.

SDP08 Personnel

Course Coordinators:

  • Tilman Wolf
    Associate Professor
    Knowles Building, room 211C
  • T. Baird Soules
    Senior Lecturer and Undergraduate Program Director
    Marcus Hall, room 8C

SDP Technician:

  • Francis Caron
    Marcus Hall, room 9A
    Hours: Mon – Fri, 8:00 A.M. –– 4:00 P.M.

Course Deliverables

ECE 415 and ECE 416 require the preparation of several deliverables including:

  • Design Documents: requirement specification, block diagram, etc.
  • Reports: draft report, midway report, and final report
  • Project Website: up-to-date information on project and design documents
  • Review Presentations
  • Poster for SDP Day demo
  • System Prototype
  • Team Project CD

More details on each deliverable will be provided in class. See the schedule for dates and deadlines.


The creating of all documents is to be a team effort. You are encouraged to work closely with your advisor on these assignments, but remember that you, not your advisor, are responsible for them.

  • Problem Statement: You are asked to prepare a statement of the problem for the project you have chosen.
  • Requirements Specification: You are asked to prepare a requirements specification for the project you have chosen.
  • System Block Diagram: You are asked to prepare a block diagram of a system that meets the specifications in the requirements specification document. A general description of how the system works should accompany the block diagram.
  • Flow Diagram: You are asked to prepare a flow diagram that illustrates the interactions between system components, the user, etc. A general description of typical interactions should accompany the flow diagram.
  • System Specification / Design: You are aksed to prepare a system specification, which describes the complete design of your system. This is one of the key design documents that defines your system in great detail.
  • Testing Plan: You are asked to prepate a testing plan that oulines the experiemental setup that you use to verify the functional correctness and performance of your prototype.
  • Draft, Midway, and Final Report: One of the main deliverables of your project is a technical report that contains all the information on design, design tradeoffs, analysis results, implementation details, etc. You are required to develop this report over several iterations. Each submission has to adhere to the style and formatting guidelines provided in class.

The statements, reports, and diagrams should be created electronically with appropriate software (e.g., Microsoft Word and Visio).


Design review presentations are the main mechanism for evaluating progress in SDP. The twofold purpose of design reviews is for the team to gain experience in presenting their work and to receive feedback from the Faculty Review Board. Each team member participates in the preparation and delivery of the presentation. There are several review presentations scheduled during the year. Details on the process of each review will be provided in class.

  • Preliminary Design Review (PDR): The PDR presentation in early fall should cover the project’s problem statement, requirement specifications, system-level block diagram and project specifications, as well as the team’s proposed MDR prototype specifications. The advisor and Faculty Review Board may modify the proposed MDR prototype specifications at the PDR.
  • Midway Design Review (MDR): MDR takes place before the Faculty Review Board and the team advisor near the end of fall semester (see schedule). The hardware and/or software prototype presented should demonstrate that the chosen design path is likely to lead to a completed project in April which meets or exceeds the project specifications. The board suggests grade to advisor.
  • Comprehensive Design Review (CDR): At CDR, teams present the final design that has been chosen for prototyping to the review board. It is expected the all design decisions have been completed and can be justified at this point.
  • Final Project Review (FPR): At FDR, teams present their completed system and its functionality. Teams should lay out how the prototyped software/hardware meets project specifications. The board suggests grade to advisor.

Other required presentations are the following:

  • Advisors Demo: To give the advisor an opportunity to get an in-depth demo of the project without the presence of a review board, a separate advisor demo is to be schedule in the week after FDR.
  • Public Demo: The public demo at Senior Design Project Day showcases each project to a broad audience. Teams present their final prototype with posters as presentation aids. Teams are judged for their overall accomplishments and presentation skills.

SDP Process

To ensure a successful completion of Senior Design Project, the following process has been established and is to be followed by all teams.

Team Coordination

In order to facilitate team organization and communication, each team has one member who is designated as the team coordinator. This position can be permanent or rotate amongst the team members. The team coordinator is decided by the team and advisor and communicated to the SDP course coordinators during the third week of September. Responsibilities of the team coordinator include

  • functioning as liaison between the team and the advisor,
  • ensuring that deadlines are met,
  • ensuring that the team is prepared for the weekly advisor meetings,
  • being responsible for assembling weekly team report, and
  • being responsible for logistics and confirmations associated with weekly team meetings, weekly advisor meetings, the PDR, MDR, CDR, FPR, Advisor’s Demo, and SDP Day (this includes room and presentation equipment reservations).

It should be noted that other team members have areas of responsibility defined as the project moves forward. The role of team coordinator is clearly defined early in the process due to the general logistical nature of the role. The team coordinator offers general support of the design effort while the other roles are tailored to project-specific needs.


Weekly Team Meetings

Weekly team meetings are for the team members to meet with each other. This can be either before or after the weekly advisor meetings, but meeting the day before the advisor meeting is encouraged in order to be prepared to make best use of the time with the advisor. It is the team coordinator’s responsibility to set up these meetings.

Weekly Advisor Meetings

Each project team holds a weekly meeting with their project advisor. The purpose of each meeting is to have each team member report on progress that has been made, barriers that have been identified and clarification of short- and long-term goals. It is the team coordinator’s responsibility to set up these meetings with the project advisor.

Course Meetings and Attendance

Course meetings and events are specified in the course calendar. Regular course meetings are held:

  • Thursdays 4:00-5:15 p.m., Lectures: Engineering Lab, room 306, Lab: Marcus 10/12.

Attendance at all course meetings, review presentations, and other events listed in the calendar is required. Attendance is taken and has a direct impact on final grades.


Engineering laboratory notebooks are legal documents that can be used in court to prove ownership of a design. You are to keep notes in a bound or spiral notebook (one for each team member). Before using the notebook, number all the pages. This book is to be taken with you to your meetings with your advisor. It is used to monitor your progress and demonstrate to your advisor the ownership of your design.

Supplies & Equipment

A wide range of supplies and equipment are available in the SDP lab. For parts that are not stocked, each team is assigned a budget for purchasing components and supplies for their project. For each requisition, a Purchase Order Request Form must be filled out, signed by the advisor, and given to Francis Caron. Purchases that do not follow the outlined procedures cannot be reimbursed.


The final grade for ECE 415 and ECE 416 will be a weighted average of the following three grade components:

  • Advisor grade (50%): Given at the discretion of the advisor.
  • Review Board grade (30%): Average of PDR and MDR (for ECE 415) or CDR and FPR (for ECE 416) grades.
  • Course Coordinator grade (20%): Based on attendance and project documents:
    • If all required course documents are of an exemplary quality and the student has no unexcused absences, then the student will receive a grade of “A” from the course coordinators.
    • If all required course documents are of an exemplary quality and the student has one or more unexcused absences, then the grade from the course coordinators will be as follows:
      • A- for one unexcused absence
      • B for two unexcused absences
      • C for three unexcused absences
      • D for four unexcused absences
      • F for five or more unexcused absences
    • If all required course documents are not of an exemplary quality then the above course coordinator grades will be downgraded as appropriate.

Each Team member is graded individually.

Academic Dishonesty

Any form of academic dishonesty (see definition in the Undergraduate Rights and Responsibilities booklet) will not be tolerated. Academic dishonesty will lead to a failure in the assignment in question, failure in the course, and/or further disciplinary action at the university level. Cases of academic dishonesty may be reported to the Department Head, the Assistant Dean, and the University Academic Honesty Board.