The EECS 16 series (Designing Information Devices and Systems) is a pair of freshman-level courses introducing students to EECS, with a particular emphasis on how we deal with systems interacting with the world from an information point of view. Mathematical modeling is an important theme throughout these courses, and students will learn many conceptual tools along the way. Throughout this series, generally applicable concepts and techniques are motivated by, and rooted in, specific exemplary application domains. Students should understand why they are learning something.

EECS 16A focuses on modeling as abstraction – a way to see the important underlying structure in a problem – and introduces the basics of linear modeling, largely from a “static” and deterministic point of view. In EECS 16A, we will use the application domains of imaging and tomography, touchscreens, and GPS and localization to motivate and inspire. Along the way, we will learn the basics of linear algebra and, more importantly, the linear-algebraic way of looking at the world. We will emphasize modeling and using linear structures to solve problems – not on how to do computations per se. We will learn about linear circuits, not merely as a powerful and creative way to help connect the physical world to what we can process computationally, but also as an exemplar of linearity and as a vehicle for learning how to do design. Circuits also provide a concrete setting in which to learn the key concept of “equivalence” – an important aspect of abstraction. Our hope is that the concepts you learn in EECS 16A will help you as you tackle more advanced courses and will help form a solid conceptual framework that will help you learn throughout your career.

I was a 16A Lab/Content TA in Spring 2017. My duties included designing, debugging, and conducting lab sections consisting of roughly 40 students. Also, I had to write homework and exam questions for the circuits portion of the course. My highlight of the course was when I was saw students who just started EE, enthusiastically doing and enjoying the labs.

In the first module – imaging module, the students needed to scan images with a single photodiode using different software masks. Here are a set of cool scans Doreene Kang and Nicholas Te took:

Mask 1 scan Mask 2 scan

These images were taken for the imaging module of the lab. Check the <a href="">course website</a> for details.

Another fun module of the labs was the touchscreen module. There students had to work with resistive and capacitive touchscreens. One of the finished touchscreen labs is shown below. Here an MSP430 launchpad senses touch via capacitive touchscreen, then plays the Super Mario tune using an op amp and a speaker.

Last modified: 2017-12-31