EE 42: Introduction to Digital Electronics
EE 100: Electronic Techniques for Engineering


Course Overview

Starting in the summer of 2010 at Berkeley, I was a teaching assistant for the two courses named above. While listed as two separate courses, they were actually taught as one, with the former being offered for CS undergraduates and the latter intended for undergraduates in non-electrical engineering fields. These course numbers are now defunct, as both have been combined with EE 40, the same course but originally intended for starting undergraduates in electrical engineering. Hence, students from all the aforementioned fields now take the same course.

When I taught this course, the material served as a broad overview to circuits analysis and simple synthesis. Prerequisites included single-variable calculus and lower-division physics. The course roughly covered five different units.

  1. Basic circuit components and topologies, including circuit equivalents and amplifier models

  2. Time domain transients and analysis, including both first- and second-order circuits

  3. Frequency domain analysis, with an emphasis on understanding transfer functions and filters

  4. Nonlinear circuit elements and models, including diodes and MOSFET transistors

  5. Digital circuits, starting with logic gates and building up to simple multiplexors, latches, counters, etc.

Course evaluation was based on a combination of problem-solving abilities as well as a lab component, for the students taking EE 100. The former was based on a series of weekly or biweekly homework assignments as well as two or three in-class exams; the latter included weekly laboratory assignments and often a final project.

As a TA

I TA'ed this course a total of five times. These include nearly every semester since Summer 2010, with the exception of Fall 2011. The semesters during which I taught, as well as the corresponding instructors, are as follows:

In each of the semesters, I played various roles, usually as some combination of head TA, discussion TA, and lab TA. Here is a summary of some of the work I did.

  • Head TA. I usually interfaced directly with the instructor to relay updates to the rest of the course staff and students at large, the latter of which numbered up to 300 in one semester. I was also in charge of maintaining logistical updates, such as monitoring the course website or Piazza, as well as making sure that all assignments were put together and distributed in a timely manner.

  • Discussion TA. My primary responsibility was to hold weekly (sometimes multiple) sessions for a classroom of 25-40 students. I primarily reviewed content from lectures and emphasized doing examples with the students to aid them in solidifying their learning and applying their knowledge. I was also often expected to assist in creating and compiling homework problems, as well as the solution sets.

  • Lab TA. I oversaw lab sessions of 20-40 students, in which students would often form groups of 2 or 3 to complete a lab assignment, usually related to recent content covered in lecture. My roles included helping students understand their assignments, assisting with debugging their circuits, and providing assessment. During my tenure, the equipment used remained mostly unchanged: digital multimeters and power supplies, oscilloscopes, breadboards, and basic circuit components, both linear and nonlinear. Different applications and assignments were created over the semesters, including soldering, strain gages, audio amplifiers, oscillators, filters, boost converters, and ADCs. Sometimes students were also expected to interface with their circuits through software like Labview or MultiSim. At the end of the semester, students were usually expected to complete a final project, which often consisted of many components and required significantly more time to complete, such as an AM radio (shown below).

Grading exams was usually a global responsibility for all TAs involved.

A schematic of the AM radio project 

As an Instructor

I taught this course as a full-time instructor in Summer 2012, during the lull between graduation and entering grad school. While it was in large part a rather smooth transition, having already taught the course so many times before, taking the instructor's seat for the first time also brought with it challenges and learning opportunities. The course could not have been a success without my four TAs, as well as a small army of lab assistants and homework graders. While I kept the course format largely the same, I was able to cover nearly the union of all topics that were covered in previous semesters, without a noticeable decrease in student performance. I also tried implementing more active learning opportunities despite the large lecture size of the class, mostly by occasionally asking students to hand in answers to questions posed in class.

Here were the syllabus and schedule for the course. In addition to preparing lectures, I also worked with my TAs to prepare homework (mostly from scratch) and lab assignments, essentially combining all of my previous roles from when I TA'ed the course. In terms of assessment, we also had two short in-class quizzes, an in-class midterm, and an in-class final exam.

During this semester I was also able to finally type up some of the hand-scribbled notes that I had been using through the semesters. Some were done in conjunction with my TAs.

My course ratings can be viewed on HKN's website here.