Texas A&M University is not only known for its high teaching standards and rich tutoring heritage, but also for its well-equipped laboratories that enable students to understand the practical aspects of the Electrical and Computer Engineering field.
With the fast expansion of the Electrical and Computer Engineering field and its applications along with the increasing demand for experienced professionals, our faculty and staff work very hard to continuously update the curriculum and to develop new courses and labs so that our students are well prepared for these advancements.
At this time, there are five laboratories in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Program where computers play an important role in data acquisition and control, or as simulation engines for experiments. Also, the Central Electric Shop is available for senior students to conceive and develop their capstone design projects.
Electric Circuits and Electronics Laboratory
This laboratory is used for teaching many of the basic concepts of electric circuits and provides students with necessary hands-on experience. The lab has nine stations and an instructional area. Each station has a NI-Elvis kit, oscilloscope, arbitrary waveform generator, digital multi-meter, and multiple DC/AC power supplies. Most of the instrumentation is connected and controlled by a computer interface bus installed via the automatic bench. The lab also has component kits, breadboards, and LCR meters needed to conduct the experiments. During the lab sessions, students are expected to design and test circuits using EWB and real components. This laboratory is also available to students during normal operating hours when there are no scheduled labs.
Laboratory experiments conducted in this lab include: exploring circuit solving techniques such as equivalent networks and superposition, testing non-ideal sources and renewable sources with emphasis on solar panel energy, operational amplifier applications (electronic security system design), RC and RCL circuit analysis and transient response, AC power measurement, circuit simulation using multisim, pspice, nodal and mesh analysis, and Thevenin’s Theorem.
This laboratory is also used for teaching the basic EE principles to non-EE students. In this course, students learn the basic concepts of EE, such as basic circuits and measurements, first order transient response, steady-state AC circuits, frequency response, and basic digital logic circuits to gain some insight in the world of EE.
This laboratory is also used for teaching many of the basic and advanced electronics engineering experiments. Student experiments include network analysis and Bode plots; operational amplifiers; introduction to diodes; and characterization, basic configurations and applications of the BJT and CMOS transistor amplifiers. Students also conduct some design projects with transistors and operational amplifiers. NI Elvis software is also used for virtual instrumentation and power supplies for this lab.
Digital Systems, Computer Architecture and Microprocessor Laboratory
For ECEN 248, the lab complements the course lecture material by offering the students a true practical experience that covers complete digital system design cycle, including specification, design, prototyping, and digital circuit testing and verification. The lab hosts eight workbenches equipped with ALTERA DE2 Boards, digital system prototyping kits, PC workstations for running CAD tools, oscilloscopes, signal generators, power supplies, and digital multimeters. The lab is based on a well-designed set of experiments that aim to enhance student understanding of practical design and testing issues, and the use of state-of-the-art CAD tools for design entry, circuit simulation, and digital system prototyping using hardware description languages and Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGA).
The lab experiments cover fundamental topics in digital system design, including combinational circuit design, sequential circuit design and timing verification, and synthesis of finite-state machines for specific applications such as traffic light control. At the end of the course, the students should be able to apply their knowledge from course lectures and their lab expertise to design real digital systems for various real-life applications using modern CAD-based design entry and synthesis tools.
For ECEN 350, the main purpose of this lab is to enhance student understanding of contemporary computer architecture (ARM v8) design and operation principles through a series of programming, software design, and hardware design experiments. The lab is an integral and important component of the computer architecture course. The lab currently hosts eight workbenches, each completely equipped with FPGA-based system prototyping kits, PC workstations for running assembly language simulators, software design tools, and hardware description language (Verilog HDL) design and synthesis tools. The workbenches are also equipped with oscilloscopes, signal generators, power supplies, and digital multimeters. By the end of the course, students should be able to apply their knowledge and expertise to write, optimize, and run assembly-language programs for typical ARM processors. The students should also be able to write Verilog HDL descriptions for several basic processor components such as register files, arithmetic circuits, control units, and memory interface units, then synthesize and test their designs on the FPGA-based prototyping kits provided in the lab.
For ECEN 449, the basic objective of the microprocessor lab is to acquaint the students with microprocessor systems. This lab serves the microprocessor system design course. This laboratory is well equipped with trainers designed to provide comprehensive hands-on training employing the latest state-of- the-art technology (ARM M-based Microcontrollers) . The students develop their designs and then get the designs onto LPC4088 development platform. This board is a microprocessor training system from Embedded Artists AB. Among other features, this system provides an advanced hardware platform which consists of a high-performance ARM M4 supported by a comprehensive collection of on-chip peripheral components. Peripheral components enable students to build complex systems and to perform several experimental tests on different types of memories and peripherals. In addition to these trainer kits, this laboratory is also equipped with all necessary digital and analog equipment, such as digital oscilloscopes with logic analyzing capabilities, programmable digital multi-meters, power supplies and the like. Hence, students are able to efficiently and conveniently carry out all lab experiments. In this lab, students interface different external components such as switches, LEDs, RGB LEDS, Servo Motors, Audio Codecs, I2C-based sensors and actuators, SPI-based sensors and actuators, and LCDs. They also learn the behavior of the interrupt controller and write firmwares, which are interrupt-based. Students have the opportunity to apply their knowledge into practice by designing and implementing an Internet of Things (IoT) project with strict constraints and requirements.
Digital Signal Processing and Communication Laboratory
These labs offer students a challenging opportunity to excel in research and hands-on experience in medical imaging, digital signal processing and digital and wireless communication. These labs give the students a taste of the industrial applications in addition to supporting research and offering exciting work opportunities for graduates.
The ECEN 455 lab has been developed to enable students to understand basic concepts in digital communication techniques. In particular, students investigate topics in source coding, sampling, quantization, PCM encoding, decoding, BER measurements in noisy channels, PSK, FSK modulation, and block coding. This lab also uses a software component enabling the students to conduct their experiments remotely via Internet. The lab is updated on a continuous basis and currently includes MATLAB-based experiments for simulating digital modulation schemes, fading channels and additive white Gaussian noise wireless channels.
The Wireless Communication (ECEN 478) course takes a unified view on the fundamentals and more recent progresses in wireless communications and explains the concepts underpinning these advances at a level accessible to an audience with a basic background in probability and digital communication. Topics covered include MIMO (multiple input multiple output) communication, space-time coding, OFDM and CDMA. The concepts of the ECEN 478 course are illustrated in ECEN479 lab using many examples from wireless systems such as GSM, CDMA, and OFDM. Particular emphasis is placed on the interplay between concepts and their implementation in practical systems. A set of experiments has been designed for this lab to enable students hands-on experience in wireless communications using NI PXI units and Agilent equipment. Students can experiment with PSK, QAM, FSK, GSM, CDMA and OFDM modulation techniques.
The ECEN 444 lab focuses on designing digital systems and performing operations with digital signals in MATLAB. Students have the opportunity to explore diverse concepts and topics such as impulse response, frequency/transfer function, z-transform, Kaiser window, sampling rate conversion with decimation, expansion and filtering, design of equalizers for removal of signal distortions, echo cancellation filters, and design of finite impulse response filters for hearing aid applications.
Digital and Wireless Communication
The ECEN455 lab has been developed to enable students to understand basic concepts in digital communication techniques. In particular, students will examine topics in source coding, sampling, quantization, PCM Encoding, Decoding, BER measurements in noisy channels, PSK , FSK modulation, and Block Coding. This lab also uses a software component enabling the students to conduct their experiments remotely via Internet.
The Wireless Communication (ECEN 478) course takes a unified view on the fundamentals and more recent progresses in wireless communications and explains the concepts underpinning these advances at a level accessible to an audience with a basic background in probability and digital communication. Topics covered include MIMO (multiple input multiple output) communication, space-time coding, OFDM and CDMA. The concepts of the ECEN478 course are illustrated in this lab using many examples from wireless systems such as GSM, CDMA, and OFDM. Particular emphasis is placed on the interplay between concepts and their implementation in practical systems. A set of experiments has been designed for this lab to enable students hands-on experience in wireless communications using NI PXI units and Agilent equipment. Students can experiment with PSK, QAM, FSK, GSM, CDMA and OFDM modulation techniques.
Machines and Power Systems Laboratory
This laboratory is used for teaching electrical machines, power electronics and power system fault analysis and design. The lab has twenty-two stations and an instructional area. Eight stations are dedicated for teaching electrical machines. They are equipped with multiple electrical machines such as DC motors, synchronous motors and generators, single and three phase induction motors, and power transformers. The stations also have conventional instrumentation and virtual instruments for testing and data acquisition. Espial software is used for feedback and data acquisition. Another six stations are equipped with power electronics equipment and components. The power electronics equipment includes power diodes, MOSFETS, IGBTs, thyristors, chopper/inverter control units, thyristor controllers and switch-mode power supplies. Students use Cadence software in this lab to simulate their power electronic models before operating in real experiments. Cassy Lab 2 software is used for recording and analyzing the measurement data.
This lab supports the lecture material presented as part of ECEN 459, Power System Analysis. The lab introduces students to power system components, component integration into the power system, power system stability, load flow, economic dispatch, and power system faults and protection. The lab includes a mix of computer simulations (using PowerWorld and PSCAD) and hands-on experiments. The laboratory has eight workbench stations. Experiments involve testing with transmission line parameters and models, different types of power system faults, and protection relays.
The lab is also equipped with oscilloscopes, arbitrary waveform generators, digital multi-meters and multiple AC/DC power supplies. The university ensures that safety requirements are fulfilled and periodic investigations of this and other EE labs are being conducted by the Building Operation and HSSE. Students are required to get special safety training before entering the labs.
Senior Design Support Center and Electric Shop
The electrical shop is a common facility for electrical engineering laboratories, created for the repair, construction, and prototyping of electronic items. The shop shares space with the senior design center, where the senior students can consult and seek advice from the full-time technician whose office is located here. The shop mainly consists of two workstations equipped with the necessary measurements and testing devices. It includes a Soldering and De-soldering Station and is equipped with measurement and testing tools. Moreover, the shop includes the latest technology of PCB prototyping machines (Mechanical and Laser) to produce PCB boards that the senior students design for their projects.
Signal and Systems, Computer Programming and Algorithms as well as Power Systems experiments and simulations are conducted in one of the TAMUQ computer labs. Equipment in these labs includes up-to-date workstations and numerous output devices such as printers. A large selection of software and graphics packages is available in these computer labs.
The main purpose of the Signal and Systems Lab is to enable exploration of the theoretical concepts learned in the Signal and Systems course (ECEN 314). More specifically, in this computer laboratory, the students conduct on a weekly basis some computer experiments with the MATLAB and LABVIEW software packages. In addition, a well-designed set of tutorials are offered to the students in order to enable them to learn the basics of MATLAB and LABVIEW programs. The laboratory experiments cover continuous and digital signals and their properties, linear time-invariant systems, Fourier series and Fourier transform, sampling, and filters. In summary, the objective of this laboratory is to give students practical programming skills in MATLAB and LABVIEW that enable them to study and understand the theory behind signals and systems, as well as to validate the theory with real-word examples. Another fundamental aim of these experiments is to foster the technical capabilities of students and lead them to implement the final course project based on simulating a musical score interpretation using sinusoidal waves with finite durations bounded by rectangular functions.
The basic aim of the Computer Programming and Algorithms lab is to apply the theoretical concepts learned in the ECEN 210 course. More specifically, in this programming laboratory, students are exposed to a basic introduction to C language programming and common algorithms; computer systems; simple C programs; basic language constructs; ﬁle I/O; modular programming and functions; arrays and matrices; dynamic memory allocation, pointers and strings; simple data structures; searching, sorting, and numerical algorithms; algorithmic complexity.