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Keysight Smart Bench Essentials Used in the University of Toronto’s New Course

In January of 2022, the Edward S. Rogers Sr. Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Toronto launched a brand-new second-year course: ECE295: Hardware Design and Communication. An exciting addition to the curriculum, students work in teams to design, build and test a complete electronic system from scratch. Along the way, students gain skills in a broad range of topics, including PCB design, soldering, test & measurement, project management, teamwork, and oral/written communication. University of Toronto’s New Hardware Design and Communication Course

This year, the project was to design an entire digital radio transceiver operating in the HF frequency band. Each team was tasked with developing a particular subsystem (e.g. receiver mixer, power amplifier, PLL, etc.) and ensuring, through appropriate interface control, that their designs would integrate with other subsystems successfully to yield a functional radio. Aside from successfully designing and assembling their PCBs, an important component of the course was the rigorous unit and system-level testing of their designs, which was made possible through immersive training and usage of modern test equipment. This equipment, featuring Keysight’s Smart Bench Essentials, includes a digital oscilloscope, digital multimeter, triple-output power supply, and arbitrary function generator. The equipment was installed in a state-of-the-art lab in the Myhal Centre for Engineering Innovation & Entrepreneurship, and was procured from Gap Wireless.

The course was an astounding success! Over 50 PCBs were successfully built, and a fully functioning radio picking up HF digital transmissions thousands of kilometres away was realized. To further add to the excitement of the course, prizes were offered to the best teams, which rewarded not only innovative designs, but also teams that exemplified the spirit and virtues we value in engineering. At the end of the course, we had an awards ceremony on the University of Toronto campus, where exciting prizes were given out for first, second, and third place. Prizes included high-end multimeters, SDR dongles (fittingly), and gift certificates.

We are grateful to Gap Wireless for sponsoring one of the prizes. Overall, the addition of prizes upped the ante for many teams and added another dimension to the course’s success and the student experience. We certainly can’t wait for the next edition of the course!

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