Electrical Engineering at IIT Bombay
This content is prepared by students of IIT Bombay, describing the programmes offered at IIT Bombay based on our experience at IITB. The description of each programme is focused on how it is structured at IIT Bombay and the nature of similar programmes offered at other colleges might be different.
Course Code – B4111
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Electrical Engineering is everywhere around you, be it in the computers you use to check emails or in the mobiles you talk on. Not only is Electrical Engineering one of the oldest departments but it can now boast of being one of the largest in the institute too.
The department offers a four year Bachelor of Technology (BTech) program (comprising of eight semesters).The curriculum is designed to give you exposure to wide spectrum of related fields. Core courses in Telecommunications, Microelectronics and VLSI design, Power Electronics and Power System, Control System and Embedded Systems help give a B.Tech. student an overview of all areas in EE department. Further, by pursuing an Honours (taking extra PG level courses) or in the course of the final year project, B.Tech students have the opportunity to specialise to some extent in the area of their interest. In addition to theory courses, laboratory courses also make sure that the student gets hands on experience with digital and analog electronics, machines, signal processing etc. The undergraduate students can also undertake various research projects either through Undergraduate Research Award (URA) or through BTech project.
The main fields in EE at IIT-B can broadly be categorised as:
Microelectronics and VLSI
This field refers to the design of circuits and devices that power the latest slim smartphones, the i5, i7 driven laptops etc. At EE, IITB work in this area can be categorized into device level and circuit level work. Microelectronics and VLSI is one of the two DD specialisations offered by the EE dept of IIT Bombay.
The courses in the devices area (Microelectronics) cover the following aspects:
Understanding the physics behind electron transport,
Understanding how electronic devices like transistors work
Modelling and simulating newer designs for the next generation devices which would be of the nanometre scale (basically, really really small!)
Fabrication of devices designed in silicon or polymers.
Designing Sensors for a variety of applications
VLSI is an abbreviation for Very Large Scale Integration which refers to the millions of transistors that are put together in the form of digital and analog circuits on a chip to perform some functionality.
The courses in the circuits area cover the following aspects:
Digital Circuit Design and Computer Architecture (Designing processors like i5, i7 etc )
Analog and Mixed Signal VLSI Circuit Design
RF Circuit (High Frequency) circuit design (Circuits that work in the GHz range for GSM, CDMA mobile communication)
VLSI CAD (Computer Aided Design – Developing tools for designing multi million transistor circuits)
IITB has one of the only two nanofabrication facilities in India. You have professors here, who are working on cool projects like making night vision IR goggles for the Indian Army, or sensors to detect TNT (explosives).
Communications and Signal Processing
Communications and Signal Processing is the other DD specialisation offered at IIT-B. In communications, the challenge is to transmit data so that error at the receiver is minimal, and to send as much as possible as fast as possible while limited by a power constraint. This is where you learn how mobile phone networks operate. Courses in Communications deal with aspects like
Antenna design, for receiving and transmitting waves
Coding schemes to transmit data as efficiently and correctly as possible.
Networks of communication like the internet and how different protocols operate
A lot of today’s technology, ranging from CT scans to fingerprint matching to Apple’s Siri, is heavily reliant on some form of signal processing. Plenty of systems in the world today use sensors in some form. Sensors can be microphones or cameras or even MRI machines. The output of these sensors is a signal in some form, which may be a representation of audio or of an image or anything else (seismic activity, ECG). The analysis of signals comprises of many aspects:
How to efficiently sample continuous data for best results
Filtering (i.e. extracting relevant parts of a signal, removing noise and altering the signal to behave in a particular way) and
Techniques to find patterns in data
These signals can be analyzed or modified for a variety of applications. For instance:
Images can be modified to improve quality or give it a certain effect (what Photoshop does), faces in images can be identified, depth of different objects in the image can be found
Songs can be identified (Shazam), voice commands can be recognized (Siri), off-key singing can be corrected (Auto-tune)
Heart ailments can be diagnosed from ECG signals, tumours can be detected in MRI images, OMR answer sheets from a competitive exam can be corrected
Communications and Signal processing utilise many mathematical tools like linear algebra, probability and stochastic processes and optimization theory, as well as some programming. Although traditionally signal processing is considered as EE, there is also considerable overlap with some fields in Computer Science (eg: Machine learning) and Mathematics.
Power Electronics and Power Systems
Future is energy, and that’s what this aspect of EE focuses on. Whatever be the source of energy, it is converted into Electrical energy which is easier to transmit as well as use. This field concentrates on improving the conversion mechanisms and the transmission. What you can expect from courses in this area
Designing Efficient Motors and Electricity generators
How to use Renewable energy – Solar cells, Wind energy
Manage Power Plants and Analyse Power distribution systems (the power grid)
With the advent of smart grids, power has become more ‘intelligent’ in the recent past, and Power Systems has been drifting closer and closer to Communication Systems and Microelectronics to cater to the needs of the world better.
Control and Computing
Control systems are designed to regulate, monitor and precisely control the behaviour of systems in nature or any device. An example of a control system would be the system used to track satellites or a system that automatically closes or opens a dam based on water levels. The Controls and computing group investigates the theoretical and algorithmic principles underlying modern electrical engineering to solve problems. Courses would focus on design of Controls Systems, Matrix computations and Linear Algebra, Network Theory, Discrete Mathematics and Graph Theory.
A blend of concepts from Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, courses in Controls and Computing often see great relevance in many interdisciplinary areas, and many concepts are often drawn upon in a wide variety of fields ranging from aerodynamics to game theory, and beyond. For example, any stable system requires to be based on sound control theory concepts – be it a million node circuit, or a pencil balanced on a ruler. This branch of Electrical Engineering goes hand-in-hand with the others, and is viewed upon as a necessary complement to the rest of Electrical Engineering.
This group deals with application oriented systems with integrated and(or) embedded electronics. The washing machine that’s programmable, or the mobile phone that comes with an inbuilt blood pressure sensor. The group is closely connected with the Microelectronics and Signal processing groups, testing out ideas and making complete products. In the freshman year, this is the group you’ll be encountering most, whether it may be the Department Introductory Course, or the Electrified sessions that you will have in the Wadhwani Electronics Laboratory.
The group also works on making devices that can help hearing impaired people speak, using a blend of Speech processing techniques and Electronic hardware. Another project undertaken by the group includes an ECG sensor which immediately calls for help using a mobile phone if the user has a heart attack. This group also has a really cool haptic tool, that can help you feel virtual textures, as well as program them. This is being used to preserve in virtual space, ancient monuments of importance and thus preserving our cultural heritage.
Honors in Electrical Engineering
A B.Tech. student is said to have “Graduated with Honors in Electrical Engineering” when She/He has done a certain number of courses from the honors course list of the Department over and above the normal credit requirement. The exact details of the programme are clearly specified in the Academic Rule Book of the Institute.
The department has a fairly flexible honors programme allowing the choice of a great number of courses for Honors requirements. All EE Post Graduate level courses, as well as a few allied courses from the Computer Science, Mathematics, Physics, MEMS (Metallurgical Engineering and Materials Science) and IEOR (Industrial Engineering and Operations Research) departments are included in the Honors list too.
Dual Degree Programme
The Dual Degree Programme in EE at IITB is offered in two of the above specialisations :
2) CSP (Communication and Signal Processing).
It involves doing an extra course over and above the normal B.Tech curriculum (without Honours) each semester starting from the 3rd semester. Most of these courses are electives which can be chosen from a large basket of courses pertaining to that specialisation. In addition, the final fifth year is to be devoted almost solely to the Dual Degree Project that is aimed to give the student a flavour of graduate level research in that field.