EE Depths

EE majors must complete a depth requirement to provide a focus for their studies. This set must include a clear chain of study that depend on the breadth courses.


DEPTH REQUIREMENTS:  20202019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2015 | FA09-SP13


How do I choose a Depth?

You should pick a depth based on your interests and skill sets. We have two recommendations for you in choosing a depth: 

Look at the 101-109 courses and pick from the ones you are the best at (usually they're required as prerequisites). These generally introduce the concepts for the corresponding depth and can help you determine which one you might be most interested in or good at.

             ECE 45 ⇒ Machine Learning & Controls

             ECE 101 + 109 ⇒ SIP/DSP, Communication Systems

             ECE 102 ⇒ Electronics Circuits & Systems

             ECE 103 + 107 ⇒ Electronic Devices & Materials, Photonics


Pick something you like. Even if you are not as strong in that area, if you enjoy the topics presented you'll be more likely to succeed.


ECE Course Prerequisites Guide


Things to remember:

  • Courses that are used to satisfy other major requirements such as ECE 100-109 are excluded and cannot be used towards the depth requirement.
  • ECE 111 cannot be used to satisfy both the design and depth requirements   

What are my options?

You may choose one of the approved depth sequences listed below, or propose another with the approval of the department.

Communication Systems

The transfer of information in digital communications systems typically requires encoding and modulation at the transmitter, and demodulation and decoding at the receiver, of thousands or millions of binary digits each second. This depth sequence covers the theory behind digital communications, including both waveform and receiver optimization, measuring and analyzing system performance, the key concepts from information theory (e.g., entropy, mutual information, and channel capacity), the use of source-encoding techniques for data compression, and the use of error-correcting codes for reliable communications. The study of communications is ideal for students interested in the design of future generations of communications systems. It is also relevant to students interested in the mathematics behind data communications, as well as the use of digital signal processing techniques, and the design of radio-frequency circuits and antennas.

Computer System Design

Computing platforms are pervasive in our everyday life, ranging from mobile phones and laptops that consumers use everyday, to switches and routers that form the backbone of the Internet, to servers and and data center infrastructure equipments that are at the heart of cloud computing, to emerging IoT applications.  This depth provides students with a comprehensive foundation in building such computing platforms, including courses in systems-on-chips design, digital circuits, embedded programming, networked embedded systems, and modern software engineering. The curriculum is structured to provide students with a broad and versatile skill-set to tackle computer systems design challenges across a broad spectrum of applications.

FA18 Computer System Design Depth Workshop Slides

Electronic Circuits and Systems

Circuits are found in nearly any item that you can purchase today. Ranging from communication circuits found in your phones, to low power analog sensors found in bioelectronic systems, to powerful microcontrollers and microprocessors analyzing data, circuits have become faster, smaller, and more power efficient to enable signal acquisition and computation. Combining the other major disciplines within Electrical Engineering and over 100 years of knowledge, this is a very mature field while also exploring new frontiers in high speed communication systems, machine learning dedicated hardware, and ultra-low power applications for biosensing and IoT.

FA18 ECS Depth Workshop Slides
FA18 AEM Depth Workshop Slides

Electronic Devices and Materials

Electronic devices are the building blocks for every computing and telecommunication system and form the ubiquitous interfaces between electronic systems and the world. The classes in this depth are organized to first provide students with a sound materials background to understand how material structure can be tailored to change the physical properties that ultimately determine device performance and system specifications. The physics of semiconductor devices and the generic principles of their design and operation is then covered for diodes, transistors, photodetectors, light emitting diodes, and solar cells. Students then apply the fundamental class knowledge in the laboratory and design, fabricate and characterize diodes, capacitors, field-effect transistors, solar cells and gallium nitride light emitting diodes in one laboratory class, as well as sensors, lab-on-chip, and bio-interface devices in another laboratory class.

Machine Learning and Controls

Computers and robots excel at logical reasoning tasks that take humans many years of specialized training to learn, yet fail to perform simple everyday tasks that humans take for granted, such as object recognition or obstacle avoidance. Machine learning enables software programs and intelligent systems to utilize prior data and experience to approach complex tasks without being explicitly programmed. Control theory investigates the theoretical properties of complex systems and offers guarantees on their stability and performance. Combined together, machine learning and control theory offer powerful tools for designing reliable, efficient, and versatile intelligent systems. This depth covers the theoretical foundations enabling these tools, namely, linear algebra, probability theory, optimization, computer vision, control theory, graphical models, regression, classification, data clustering, algorithms, etc. The curriculum is complemented by practical experience gained from modern programming assignments and sophisticated hands-on projects.

FA18 Machine Learning & Controls Depth Workshop Slides


Much like how the laws and physics of electrons can be manipulated in electronics engineering, light can also be manipulated to dramatic effect. Light, in the form of both photons and electromagnetic radiation, is the star actor in optics and photonics engineering. From lasers and optical modulators to optical Fourier transforms in imaging and holography, each class in this series contains a lab component that allows you to “see” how we can engineer with light. This depth covers the basic physics of light, from ray optics to electromagnetic optics, and covers the application of light in topics ranging in optoelectronics, imaging, holography, lasers, and modulators.

Signal and Image Processing

Signal processing is essential for every application, as any algorithms would not work properly if the input signals are corrupted or too noisy to process. As the gateway between the real world and engineering solutions, signal processing is everywhere from processing radio signals to processing signals from bio-sensors on wearable devices like Fitbit. This depth covers the fundamentals of time and frequency domain analysis and digital filter design, as well as popular topics in sampling, quantization, audio processing, image processing, video processing and communication systems.

Power Engineering



Communication Theory & Systems Tara Javidi tjavidi
Computer System Design Curt Schurgers cschurgers
Electronic Circuits & Systems Gabriel Rebeiz grebeiz
Electronic Devices & Materials Eric Fullerton efullerton
Machine Learning & Controls Dave Sworder dsworder
Photonics Zhaowei Liu z4liu
Signal & Image Processing Florian Meyer flmeyer
Power Engineering Hanh-Phuc Le hanhphuc