Wednesday, February 15, 2012

MIT 6.002x (Circuits and Electronics)

I'm going to take this new Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) course offering:

6.002x (Circuits and Electronics) is an experimental on-line adaptation of MIT’s first undergraduate analog design course: 6.002. This course will run, free of charge, for students worldwide from March 5, 2012 through June 8, 2012.

I found this course through the BBC article, "MIT launches free online 'fully automated' course", 13 February 2012.
[The course] has been designed for online students, with a virtual laboratory, e-textbooks, online discussions and videos that are the equivalent of a lecture. It is expected to take 10 hours per week and will run until June.
Anant Agarwal, one of the course teachers, says it has been "designed to try to keep it engaging".
I'm particularly interested in how well they can pull off an online course like this, how engaging and/or frustrating it might be. I know a lot of the material that will be covered, but it's not my specialty.

I'm tinkering with an Arduino microcontroller and it will be a good way to increase my design capabilities. It would be nice to replicate and extend some of the labs on the Arduino, to get the full experience of handling real devices and physical problems, instead of idealized simulacrums. Someone should make parallel lab instructions for Arduino. Maybe I'll try putting one together myself.

Course description:

Designed to serve as a first course in an undergraduate electrical engineering (EE), or electrical engineering and computer science (EECS).

Introduces the lumped element model, a standard analytic tool for describing the dynamics of circuits (and similar systems).
(Example representation of a lumped model made up of a voltage source V and a resistor R, with electric current i. This model of an electronic circuit makes the simplifying assumption that the attributes of the circuit, resistance, capacitance, inductance, and gain, are concentrated into idealized electrical components; resistors, capacitors, and inductors, etc. joined by a network of perfectly conducting wires.)
Topics covered include: resistive elements and networks; independent and dependent sources; switches and MOS transistors (MOSFET); digital abstraction; amplifiers; energy storage elements; dynamics of first- and second-order networks; design in the time and frequency domains; and analog and digital circuits and applications. Includes design and lab exercises. Approximately 10 hours per week required.


Foundations of Analog and Digital Electronic Circuits, Agarwal and Lang, 2005. The book is not required: relevant sections will be provided electronically as part of the online course.
A unified treatment of circuits and electronics, establishing a strong connection with digital systems. Introduces a new way of looking at the treatment of circuits and introductory coursework in engineering in general. 
The book attempts to form a bridge between physics and large computer systems. Treats electrical engineering and computer science as the creation and exploitation of abstract models to manage the complexity of building electrical systems.

AP level physics course in electricity and magnetism. Basic calculus, linear algebra, some background in differential equations. The first half of the course will include an optional remedial differential equations component.

Course staff include:
Anant Agarwal
Director of Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL). Parallel computer architectures and cloud software systems, founder of several startups, including Tilera that produces scalable multicore processors. Co-authored the course textbook.

Gerald Jay Sussman
Educator in computer science, author of Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs, the creator of Scheme. Artificial intelligence, physics, chaotic systems, supercomputer design.
Piotr Mitros
Techniques from control systems to optimize the learning process, analog designer at Texas Instruments, Talking Lights. Designed the analog front end for a novel medical imaging modality for Rhythmia Medical.