University of Maryland & Texas Instruments Team Up for Innovative First-Year Electrical and Computer Engineering Course

Texas Instruments partners with The Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering to provide hands-on, modular instruction to incoming students

COLLEGE PARK, Md., Sept. 10, 2015 — (PRNewswire) — On September 11, 2015, at 10 a.m. the University of Maryland's (UMD) Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE), in the A. James Clark School of Engineering, will celebrate the opening of the Texas Instruments Discovery Lab, where first-year engineering students are being exposed to basic electrical and computer engineering concepts in a revolutionary, hands-on way. This lab opening at UMD is part of a company-level commitment by Texas Instruments Incorporated (TI) to ensure young engineering students are engineering- and industry-ready by inspiring them at the inception of their academic careers.

The Texas Instruments Discovery Lab is the setting for a unique approach to engineering curriculum. The Lab will house "ENEE 101: What's Cool in ECE." This course, being piloted this semester, is an introductory course meant to anchor students in the A. James Clark School's electrical and computer engineering program. ENEE 101 features hands-on activities that highlight the role of electrical and computer engineering in the real world. Required for all incoming freshman students, it will allow them to understand the relevance of the technical subjects they will study and their relationship to the profession.

"We wanted to provide our freshmen a lab that does not look like what their parents saw in their college years. We also wanted to move away from traditional workbench labs where the students face the walls; therefore, thanks to TI, we are providing a more collaborative space to encourage team building and exchange of ideas," says Professor Rama Chellappa, electrical and computer engineering department chair.

Discovering the fundamentals of electrical and computer engineering

This innovative course is divided into eight diverse yet highly structured modules which are gadget-based. The modules, carefully designed and chosen by our faculty, introduce the foundational concepts in the ECE curriculum. The modules include:

  • Optical Communication
    • Teaches concepts in circuits and optics by using light and various tools to transmit sound; aim to introduce analog circuits, measurement techniques of DC current and time varying electrical quantities 
  • Energy Harvesting
    • Reinforces concepts in power generation through the use of light, heat, and motion
  • Control Systems
    • Imparts the fundamentals of linear control systems through hands-on experience cooking a 65°C egg
  • Brainwaves and Cognition
    • Teaches the fundamentals of signal processing and computation through analysis of electroencephalogram (EEG) brainwaves and relating them to the subject's thoughts
  • Image Processing
    • Illustrates techniques to process images and embed secret messages on them 
  • Model-Based Design of Signal Processing Software
    • Introduces fundamentals of design methods and software techniques for signal processing systems, including deep waveform analysis
  • Android programming and Microcontrollers  
    •  teaches how to program Android OS devices with Bluetooth® and Arduino or TI MSP430 microcontroller boards to build soccer bots controlled by cell phones
  • Ethics
    • Exposes students to case studies of ethical practices in the engineering profession

The course was designed by Professor Mel Gomez, the associate chair for undergraduate studies, and a group of dedicated professors in the ECE department; the lab was built by Mr. Bryan Quinn, technical director of operations, and his team. The lab opening will be followed by demonstrations of technology used in the course and additional applications using TI Analog, Microcontrollers and Wireless Connectivity, including a wireless game controller and an Internet of Things example, which are systems that TI is using to make way for the new experiential approach to educating University of Maryland electrical and computer engineers.

"TI is committed to cultivating young minds and preparing students for their career in engineering," said Ray Upton, vice president and general manager of microcontrollers at TI, and ECE alumnus. "Our hope is that this new hands-on lab will enable students to grasp complex concepts to help them be industry-ready, all while having fun learning."

When & Where:
Friday, September 11, 2015

  • 10:00 a.m.: Texas Instruments Discovery Lab Ribbon Cutting and Dedication, A.V. Williams Building
  • 10:40 am: ENEE 101 and TI technology demonstrations, A.V. Williams Building, Discovery Lab and surrounding areas
  • 11:15 am: Discovery/Maker Culture Roundtable with TI, ECE faculty, and ECE Student Leaders, Undergraduate Student Lounge, A.V. Williams Building


  • Darryll Pines, Ph.D., Dean and Nariman Farvardin Professor of Aerospace Engineering, University of Maryland A. James Clark School of Engineering
  • Rama Chellappa, Ph.D., Chair and Minta Martin Professor of Engineering
  • Mel Gomez, Ph.D., Associate Chair for Undergraduate Studies
  • Ray Upton, Vice President, General Manager, Microcontrollers, Texas Instruments
  • Steve Lyle, Director, Engineering Workforce Development and University Marketing, Texas Instruments

About the A. James Clark School of Engineering

The University of Maryland's A. James Clark School of Engineering is a premier program, ranked among the top 20 in the world. Located just a few miles from Washington, D.C., the Clark School is at the center of a constellation of high-tech companies and federal laboratories, offering students and faculty access to unique professional opportunities.

Our broad spectrum of academic programs, including the world's only accredited undergraduate fire protection engineering program, is complemented by a vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem, early hands-on educational experiences, and participation in national and international competitions.

The Clark School is leading research advancements in aerospace, bioengineering, robotics, nanotechnology, disaster resilience, energy and sustainability, and cybersecurity. From the Universal Product Code to satellite radio, SMS text messaging to the implantable insulin pump, our students, faculty, and alumni are engineering life-changing innovations for millions. Learn more at

About Texas Instruments
Texas Instruments Incorporated (TI) is a global semiconductor design and manufacturing company that develops analog ICs and embedded processors. By employing the world's brightest minds, TI creates innovations that shape the future of technology. TI is helping more than 100,000 customers transform the future today. Learn more at  


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SOURCE University of Maryland A. James Clark School of Engineering

University of Maryland A. James Clark School of Engineering
Texas Instruments Incorporated
University of Maryland, Carrie Hilmer, 301 405 4471
Email Contact Texas Instruments, Allye Foster, 972 341 2560
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