A New Graduate Class on Signal Integrity

The Spring 2016 semester is over and I’ve just completed teaching my graduate Signal Integrity class at the University of Colorado, Boulder. This is the third year I’ve taught this class. This time, I recorded all the lectures and posted all the hands on labs. If you are a subscriber to the Signal Integrity Academy, you can take this class from start to finish.

Altogether, there are 13 lectures with hands on labs assigned as the homework each week. I am a strong believer in the most effective way of learning a new field is by doing. If I had a lab in which my students could do measurements, I’d use it. The practical alternative is to use simulation tools as a “virtual” lab. Each homework assignment and all the set up files for the labs are included in the online version of this course, available for subscribers.

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Since I only had 13 lectures, I had to be very selective in the topics covered. Of course, I also used the more than 100 hours of online video recordings posted on the SI Academy as supplemental content. Here are the lecture topics covered in this course:

1.Jan 11:   Welcome and intro
2.Jan 18    holiday (chpt 1, 2, 3)
3.Jan 25:   Transmission lines and signals (chpt 7)
4.Feb 1:   Reflections and circuit simulations (chpt 8)
5.Feb 8:  Discontinuities (chpt 5, 6)
6.Feb 15:   Differential pairs (chpt 11)
7.Feb 22:   S-parameters and the TDR (chpt 2, 12)
8.Feb 29:  Attenuation and loss (chpt 9)
9.Mar 7:   High speed serial links (chpt 9, 11, 12)
10.Mar 14:   (mid term)
11.Mar 21:   spring break
12.Mar 28   Eyes and jitter analysis
13.April 4:   Cross talk (chpt 10)
14.April 11:   Ground bounce (chpt 6)
15.April 18:  The PDN (chpt 4, 6, 13)
16.April 25    last class

May 2:   final exam

To entice students to come on time, I like to start each class with a carrot and a stick. The carrot is, I tell an engineering related joke. You get to hear them all in the recorded lectures, like this one:

An engineer, a priest and a doctor are playing golf one day. But, the group ahead of them is taking way too long. They’re impatient. A club worker drives by and they stop him and ask him why the group ahead of them is so slow.

The guy says, “The group ahead of you are three blind firemen. We had a terrible fire at the club house last year and these firemen lost their sight fighting the fire so the club gave them unlimited access to the course anytime they wanted.”

The priest was so moved, he said he would offer a special prayer for these brave firemen. The doctor said he would ask some of his colleagues if there was something they could do for them. The engineer said, “Why don’t they play at night?”

Okay, so I didn’t say they were great jokes, but many of them offer subtle examples of the engineer’s perspective on the world- finding practical solutions, and that’s the theme of this course.

The stick is I also offer a pop quiz right after the joke. This is worth 3 points and counts for 30% of their grade. I did not record the pop quizzes, nor the midterm and final. I do not want my next semester students to see these.

I am working on the 3rd edition of my text book and will include questions and exercises at the end of each chapter. These quiz questions will definitely appear in the text book.

The new course posted on the Teledyne LeCroy Signal Integrity Academy is the last one posted on the home page, “High Speed Digital Design”, subtitled, “What could possibly go wrong?”

Check it out!

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