Students Score in EECS 413 Class Design Contest Sponsored by Analog Devices

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Student teams in the course Monolithic Amplifier Circuits (EECS 413), Fall 2008, worked not only for good grades, but competed for prize money thanks to the sponsorship of Analog Devices. The course is an introduction to CMOS analog and mixed signal design, and students complete a major design project through the course of the semester. Two teams of students took first and second prize in the EECS 413 Design Contest.

      
Jeffrey Fredenburg, Eddie Hoskin, Nick Collins

First place and $1,500 went to the team of Nick Collins, Jeffrey Fredenburg, and Eddie Hoskin for their project, "Charge Pump Assisted Class-AB Headphone Amplifier." At the time, all were undergraduate students majoring in electrical engineering. The students designed an audio amplifier for use in portable electronic devices (such as iPods or cell phones) to drive low-impedance earbud-type headphones. Hoskin said the challenge was to deliver significant power to the headphones, yet do so using a relatively low-power source. Their design, pictured to the right, allowed them to quadruple the available  power with very little distortion.
 

           
Zeshan Ahmad, Khaled Al-Ashmouny, Kuo-Ken Huang

Second prize and $500 was awarded to the team of Zeshan Ahmad, Khaled Al-Ashmouny, and Kuo-Ken Huang for their project, "A 1-V, 900-nW Low-Noise Amplifiers for Neural Recording Applications." All three are electrical engineering graduate students studying Circuits and Microsystems. "Neural recording microsystems must operate at very low power in order to prevent tissue heating which damages the brain cells (neurons),” explains Al-Ashmouny. “We designed an energy efficient low-noise nano-power amplifier that will enable the recording of thousands of simultaneous neural activities without heating or damaging brain tissue." Their design will also allow neuroscientists to shrink the size of the probes while multiplying their number, thereby safely increasing the amount of information they can gain. The students are interested in commercializing their work.

"It's amazing what the groups design in a short time,” said Prof. Mike Flynn. Flynn regularly seeks sponsorship from industry to give students added incentive in the course. It also allows industry to see what the students are doing. Fredenburg said "it was exciting to see all of the other excellent presentations and know one would win."

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EECS 413 is a major design experience course for undergraduate students, or can be taken for regular credit by graduate students. All designs are implemented in a commercial 0.25μm CMOS process, and are aided by a full suite of industrial-grade CAD tools from Cadence.